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Relief period for events contracts extended

Relief period for events contracts extended

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 01 Jan 2021
Author: Rei Kurohi & Shabana Begum

Individuals and firms will now have till Jan 31 to apply for protection from legal action.

Individuals and companies who have signed contracts for such activities as wedding celebrations, conferences and holiday tours, have been given another month to apply for protection from legal action for failing to fulfil their contractual obligations.

The relief period for these contracts was scheduled to have ended yesterday, but the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has extended the deadline to Jan 31.

It said that, in the light of further easing of restrictions under phase three of Singapore's reopening, "there will be more scope to make alternative arrangements and adjustments to the original contract terms".

"For example, parties to a contract for a large wedding may agree to holding the event on the contracted date but on a smaller scale at an appropriately reduced price.

"This would be a fair result."

The relief provided for these contracts was introduced initially under the Covid-19 Temporary Measures Act on April 7.

In its statement yesterday, the ministry also strongly encouraged the parties involved to negotiate for a solution if the event cannot proceed at all owing to Covid-19.

It said parties should apply for relief only if they are unable to reach an agreement.

Under the Act, one party can serve a notification for relief on the other. It must be done by the last day of the relief period.

Once done, the deposits paid for the event or tour cannot be automatically forfeited, and cancellation fees are payable only if an assessor appointed by MinLaw decides such fees are just and fair.

The ministry also said that even when a notification for relief is served, negotiations between the parties should continue.

"The intention is to prevent any such forfeiture or cancellation charge from happening, so that parties may focus on discussion, understanding each other's positions and trying to reach a mutually agreeable compromise on the conduct of the event or tour."

If no agreement is reached, either party can apply for an assessor to make a decision. This can stretch up to two months from the end of the new relief deadline, or by March 31 at the latest.

In some cases, assessors may require the parties to attend mediation or explain why they cannot make alternative arrangements, such as rescheduling the event or holding it on a smaller scale.

The relief period for other contracts remains unchanged.

Relief for hire-purchase, conditional sales and rental agreements for commercial equipment or commercial vehicles will end, as scheduled, on Jan 31.

As for property, the relief period for option to purchase as well as sale and purchase agreements with developers will end on March 31. It is also the case for construction contracts or supply contracts.

When contacted yesterday, Mrs Cheryl Tan, founder of The Wedding Concepteur wedding planning firm, said the extended deadline will give business owners like her more time to find an ideal solution for their clients.

Couples often book as early as 11/2 years in advance, and her firm is flexible in meeting requests, like letting them tentatively book more than one date or postponing the wedding to the following year.

"Nobody expects or wants this to happen to their wedding. It is a substantial financial loss to us, but planning a wedding should be a joyous occasion.

"Being understanding and accommodating is the least we can do to help our clients."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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