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Historical Sources of Singapore Law: Statutes, Ordinances & Treaties

Historical Treaties and Statutes

This is a chronological list of historical treaties, Acts and ordinances which had or still have the force of law in Singapore.

Materials can be found in the C J Koh Law Library unless otherwise stated.

*indicates subscription database.

Period Title Notes Location
1819
(founding of modern Singapore)
Treaty of friendship and alliance concluded between the Honourable Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles ... and their Highnesses Sultan Hussain Mahummed Shah, Sultan of Johore, and Datoo Tumungong Sri Maharajah Abdul Rahman, chief of Singapore ...
(also known as the Singapore Treaty)

Raffles entered into a treaty with Sultan Hussain and the Temenggong on 6th February 1819 granting the British East India Company (EIC) the right to set up a trading post in Singapore.

More info: Singapore Treaty

Reprinted in:
(i) The Law of the Straits Settlements : a commentary by Roland Braddell (3rd ed, 1982, at 144)
Ref: KE5020 Bra

(ii) Treaties and engagements entered into with, or affecting the Native States of the Malayan Peninsula (1877) 
Lee Kong Chian Reference Library (NLB)
Ref: 341.0264595 MAL

Central Library Microforms
Ref: Stack no. R0030257 

1823

Singapore local laws and institutions, 1823 (also known as Raffles’ Singapore Regulations)

Raffles promulgated a code of law to be administered in Singapore. Although their validity was disputed, the 6 regulations remained as the only body of judicial regulation until 1826.

More info: Raffles' Regulations
 

Online: Book SG

Reprinted in:
(i) (1968) 10 Mal LR 248
Ref: KA1 MALR

(ii) Memoir of the life and public services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles by Lady Sophia Raffles (in Appendix)
Ref: DS646.26 Raf.R (Central Library)

1824 Treaty between His Britannic Majesty and the King of the Netherlands respecting territory and commerce in the East Indies (also known as the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 or Treaty of London (1824))

Treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in London on 17 March 1824 to resolve disputes that had arisen due to the British occupation of Dutch properties. Inter alia, Netherlands relinquished any claim it had on Singapore, and Singapore's status as a British possession was confirmed (Article 12).

More info: Anglo-Dutch Treaty

Available in Lee Kong Chian Reference Library (NLB)
Ref: 342.42041309598 GRE

Online: Reprinted in Edinburgh Annual Register 1824 at 25 (via Google eBook)

1824 An Act for transferring to the East India Company certain possessions newly acquired in the East Indies ... (also known as the Transfer of Singapore to East India Company, etc. Act 1824)
 
Under the Act (5 Geo. IV, c. 108), Singapore, together with Malacca and Penang, became part of the British colony of the Straits Settlements under the rule of the East India Company on 24 June 1824. In Statutes at large (Vol 64)
Ref: K2011 LP
1824 Treaty of friendship and alliance between the Honourable The English East India Company on the one side, and their Highnesses the Sultan and Tumungong of Johore on the other, concluded on the second day of August, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-four (1824) ... by the above Sultan of Johore, His Highness Sultan Hussain Mahomed Shah, and the above Tumungong of Johore, His Highness Datu Tumungong Abdul Rahman Sri Maharajah on their behlaf, and by John Crawfurd, Esquire, British Resident of Singapore... (also known as the Crawfurd Treaty or Final Treaty for the Cession of Singapore)
 

Under the terms of the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, Singapore and its surrounding islands were ceded to the EIC. The treaty was ratified at Fort William, Bengal on 19 November 1824.

More info: 1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

Reprinted in The Law of the Straits Settlements : a commentary by Roland Braddell (3rd ed, 1982, at 153)
Ref: KE5020 Bra

Online: Reprinted in Minutes of evidence taken before the Select Committee on the Affairs of the East India Company at 502 (via Google ebook)

1826 The Letters patent establishing the Court of Judicature at Prince of Wales Island, Singapore, and Malacca in the East Indies (also known as the Second Charter of Justice)

An Act for ... more effectually providing for the administration of justice in Singapore and Malacca ... (6 Geo. IV, c. 85) empowered the British Crown to issue letters patent providing for the administration of justice in the Straits Settlements.

The Crown issued the Second Charter of Justice (dated 27 Nov 1826) which established a legal system for Singapore. It created the Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales' Island, Singapore and Malacca. Singapore, Malacca and Penang collectively became the Straits Settlements under the control of British India. The Charter did not explicitly state that English law was to be applied in Singapore but it was assumed to provide the legal basis for the general reception of English law in Singapore.

More info: Second Charter of Justice and >>

6 Geo. IV, c. 85
in Statutes at large (Vol 65)
Ref: K2011 LP



Ref: K7371 1826

Online:
(i) Book SG
(ii) HathiTrust Digital Library

 

1830 Prince of Wales’ Island Governor’s regulations Prince of Wales' Island was conferred with an extremely limited power to issue regulations relating to duties and taxes. Validity of some of the regulations was disputed.
 
Reprinted in (1971) 13 Mal LR 294 at 297
Ref: KA1 MALR
1831, 1833 Bengal regulations 4 regulations applicable to the Straits Settlements were issued by the Governor-General in Council of India.
 
Reprinted in (1971) 13 Mal LR 294 at 389
Ref: KA1 MALR
1833 An Act for effecting an arrangement with the East India Company, and for the better government of His Majesty's Indian territories ... (also known as Government of India Act 1833 or Charter Act of 1833)

The Charter Act (3 & 4 Will. IV, c. 85) explicitly empowered the Governor General in Council of India to legislate for the Straits Settlements. The passing of the Act by the British Parliament inaugurated the period of Indian Acts which formed the next section of Singapore's historical statute book.

More info: Charter Act of 1833

In Statutes at large (Vol 74)
Ref: K2011 LP
1834-67 Acts of the Legislative Council of India (1834-1861); Legislative Acts of the Governor General of India in Council (1862-1899)

See the Sesquicentennial Chronological Tables of the Written Laws of the Republic of Singapore, 1834-1984 for the list of Indian Acts applicable to Singapore from 1834 to 1867 (Ref: K7574 1984)

Indian Acts that continue to be of relevance:
(i) Indian Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860) - although it came into force in India in 1860, it did not apply to the Straits Settlements until 1871 when the Straits Settlements Legislative Council enacted the Code. The Code forms the basis of Singapore criminal law as it stands today.
(see Internet Archive for 1863 commentary by Morgan and MacPherson)

(ii) Wills Act (Act XXV of 1838) - this remains the sole surviving Indian Act in the Singapore statute book.

Ref: K7162 1861K7162 1861S

After 1858, Indian Acts applicable to Singapore were also published in the Straits government gazette
Ref: J8 S

Online: 
(i) *South Asia Archive
(ii) Internet Archive (Search for Acts of the Legislative Council of India or Legislative Acts of the Governor General of India in Council)

1855

Letters patent for reconstituting the Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales' Island, Singapore, and Malacca ... (also known as the Third Charter of Justice)

Dated 12 Aug 1855, the Third Charter revoked the Second Charter of Justice and created the office of the second Recorder. It was ratified and confirmed by an Act of Parliament (18 & 19 Vict., c. 93).

More info: Third Charter and >>

Ref: K7371 1855

Online:
(i) The acts and ordinances of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements, p1 (via Internet Archive)
(ii) Book SG

18 & 19 Vict., c. 93
in Statutes at large (Vol 96)
Ref: K2011 LP

1866

An Act to provide for the government of the "Straits Settlements" (also known as the Straits Settlements Government Act 1866)

The Act (29 & 30 Vict., c. 115) was passed on 10 August 1866. After it was brought into operation by Order of the Queen in Council on 1 April 1867, the Straits Settlements were detached from India and constituted as a separate colony.

In The law reports: the public general statutes (1866)
Ref: K2011 P

Online: The acts and ordinances of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements, p47 (via Internet Archive)

1867
(Straits Settlements became Crown Colony)

Charter to be passed under the great seal for erecting the Straits Settlements into a separate colony, and for providing for the government thereof (also known as Letters Patent dated 4th February 1867)

Under the Letters Patent, the Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony under the direct jurisdiction of the Colonial Office in London. Powers were concentrated in the hands of the Governor, who was assisted by an Executive Council and a Legislative Council.

Ref: K7371 1867

1867-1935;
1938-40

Ordinances enacted by the governor of the Straits Settlements : with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council thereof during the year ... (also known as Straits Settlements acts and ordinances)

The authoritative text of the ordinances can be found in the Straits Settlements Government Gazette (Ref: J8 S1; Online: *Straits Settlements government gazette, 1867-1942 : CO 276)

                          








--------------------  

Other compilations of Acts and ordinances were also published during this period:

(i) The Acts and Ordinances of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements, from the 1st April 1867 to the 1st June 1886, together with certain acts of Parliament, orders of Her Majesty in Council, letters patent and Indian acts in force in the colony of the Straits Settlements / compiled by John Augustus Harwood.

(ii) The Acts and Ordinances of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements, from the 1st April 1867 to the 7th March 1898 / compiled by Charles Goodricke Garrard.

1867-1935
Ref: K7396 Ord

1938-40
Ref: K7396 Ord

Online: OneSearch​
Select Magazines & Articles. Enter “Straits Settlements Government Gazette” in search box. Refine search by Type to Digitised Periodical (left column)

A selection of Gazettes on BookSG has been captured in this file: SSGG

----------------- 

(i) Ref: K7396 1886
Online: Internet Archive
Vol 1
Vol 2

(ii) Ref: K7396 1898
Online: Internet Archive
Vol 1

1878 An Ordinance to improve the civil law (also known as the Civil Law Ordinance 1878)
 
The Ordinance (No.IV of 1878) regulated the reception of English law into Singapore. Ref: K7396 Ord
 
1889 Indian Acts passed during the period extending from the 22nd day of April 1834 to the 31st day of March 1867 both days inclusive and now in force in the colony of the Straits Settlements, as determined by the commissioners appointed by His Excellency the Governor of the Straits Settlements under the provisions of "The Statute Law Revision Ordinance 1889" (no.VIII of 1889)
 
In order to remove doubts, a commission was set up under the Statute Law Revision Ordinance to publish a volume of Indian Acts which were still applicable to the Straits Settlements as at 1889. Ref: K7396 1890
1919 The laws of the Straits Settlements 1835-1919 : revised up to and including the 31st day of December, 1919; but exclusive of War and Emergency Legislation
(1920 Rev Ed)
 

This first revised edition of the Indian and Straits Settlements Acts and Ordinances is sometimes known as the Braddell Edition. However, even before this edition was brought into force, it was amended by the Statute Laws (Revised Edition) Operation Ordinance 1921. As thus amended, the revised edition was finally brought into force by  GN 1903/1921 on 28 November 1921.

Ref: K7396 1920 (digital archive available)

1926

The laws of the Straits Settlements : revised up to and including the 31st day of December, 1925, but exclusive of war and emergency legislation
(1926 Rev Ed)

Note: Vol 5 contains private ordinances revised up to and including the 31st day of December, 1925

Chief Justice Murison was appointed sole commissioner for the preparation of the second revised edition of the Laws. Hence, this edition is sometimes known as the Murison Edition.

Ref: K7396 1926

Online: BookSG
Vol 1
Vol 2
Vol 3
​Vol 4
Vol 5

1935 The laws of the Straits Settlements : revised up to and including the 31st day of December, 1935
(1936 Rev Ed)
 

This third revised edition of the laws was prepared by the then Attorney General as sole commissioner.

-------------------------

Annual supplements were issued under the Revised Edition of the Laws (Annual Supplements) Ordinance 1936 until 1940.

The 1941 and 1942 supplements were, in addition to the aforementioned ordinance, prepared under the authority of the Defence (Annual Supplements) Ordinance 1941.

Ref: K7396 1936
 

-------------- 

Annual supplements
Ref: K7396 1936S

1942-45 The good citizen's guide : handbook of declarations, orders, rules and regulations, etc. / issued by Gunseikan-bu (Military Administration Department), Syonan Tokubetu-si (Municipality), and Johore Administration between February 2602 and March 2603
 

This volume contains only a selection of the proclamations, decrees and notices issued by the Japanese Military Administration during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.

Other published sources for the proclamations, etc. include the newspapers, like the Syonan Shimbun.

English edition
Ref: K7397 1943

See also: Japanese military administration in Indonesia: selected documents
Ref: 341.320991B432 (Central Library)

The Syonan shimbun
Ref: AN Mal.SYS (Central Library)
Online: NewspaperSG

1945-46

British Military Administration Malaya gazette. Singapore division
(also known as the British Military Administration proclamations)

cf. British Military Administration Malaya. Gazette of the Malay Peninsula

Proclamations, orders and notices were issued by the British Military Administration after WWII but their publication ceased in April 1946 when civilian government in Singapore resumed.
 

Ref: K7402 Sin

Online: *CO 932/1

cf. Ref: K7402 1945

1947-59
(In 1946, Straits Settlements disbanded and Colony of Singapore created)

Colony of Singapore ordinances (published in Colony of Singapore government gazette ordinances supplement)

From no.39 of 1959, the title was changed to the State of Singapore ordinances

On 1 April 1946, the Straits Settlements were disbanded by the Straits Settlements (Repeal) Act (9 & 10 Geo. VI, c. 37)

The new Colony of Singapore was created by the Singapore Colony Order in Council 1946 (SI 464/1946) and the Singapore Legislative Council was constituted with power to legislate for the colony.

Colony of Singapore ordinances were birthed.

Ref: K7399 Ord

Colony of Singapore ordinances of 1959 bound together with State of Singapore ordinances of 1959
Ref: K7399 Ord

                  -------------- 

Annual supplements (1946-55)
Ref: K7399 1936 S

1955 The laws of the Colony of Singapore containing the ordinances and selected imperial legislation in force on the 1st day of May, 1955
(1955 Rev Ed)
 
The fourth revised edition of the laws was published in 8 volumes.

Ref: K7399 1955

                   -------------- 

Annual supplements (1956-63)
Ref: K7399 1955 S

1959-65
(State of Singapore formed in 1959)
State of Singapore ordinances

The 1946 Order was revoked by the Singapore Colony Order in Council 1955 (No. S38 of 1955; SI 187/1955) which was in turn revoked by the Singapore (Constitution) Order in Council 1958 (SI 1956/1958). This was made under powers conferred by the State of Singapore Act 1958 (6 & 7 Eliz. II, c. 59)  under which Singapore was granted full internal self-government. The State of Singapore was formed in 1959.

With the enactment of the Malaysia Act 1963, Singapore, together with the states of North Borneo and Sarawak, merged with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia. The State of Singapore Constitution 1963 can be found in the Third Schedule to the Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (State Constitutions) Order in Council 1963

1959, 1962
Ref: K7399 Ord

1960,1961 available in the Supplement to the laws of the State of Singapore
Ref: K7399 1955 S

No.1-7 of 1965 are bound in Republic of Singapore Acts
Ref: K7399 SA

1965 -
(year of Singapore's independence)
Republic of Singapore Acts (published in the Republic of Singapore Government Gazette Acts Supplement)
 

With the signing of the Independence of Singapore Agreement 1965 between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Singapore, Singapore was granted independence from Malaysia with effect from 9 August 1965. 

Following separation, Parliament adopted a makeshift constitution comprising three separate documents on 22 December 1965: the Constitution of the State of Singapore 1963, the Republic of Singapore Independence Act 1965 and portions of the Malaysian Federal Constitution imported through the Republic of Singapore Independence Act. In 1980, these documents were consolidated into one after the Attorney-General was empowered to issue a Reprint of the Constitution.

The Singapore Act 1966 (1966 c. 29), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, admitted Singapore as a sovereign state into the Commonwealth of Nations with retroactive effect from 9 August 1965.

The independence of Singapore ushered in a new era of Singapore statutes.

Ref: K7399 SA

Online:
(i) *eGazette (1998 -) 
(ii) Singapore Statutes Online (1981, 1985 -)

1966 - Reprints (of Singapore Acts)

Under the Interpretation Act 1965, any reprint of any Act was deemed to be the authentic text of that Act in force on such date as specified in the reprint and was the official printed copy of such Act.

31 reprints were issued in the Republic of Singapore government gazette : reprints supplement (Acts) in 1966.

Subsequent reprints include those of the Criminal Procedure Code (1969) and the Income Tax Ordinance (1966).

In 1980, the Attorney-General issued a Reprint of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, incorporating all amendments to 31 Mar 1980.

Reprints supplement (1966)
Ref: K7399 1955 SR

Reprint of Criminal Procedure Code
Ref: K7424 Cpc.1969

Reprint of Income Tax Ordinance
Ref: K7424 Inc.1966

Reprint of the Constitution
Ref: K7424.Con 1980

1970 The Statutes of the Republic of Singapore : revised edition of the Acts
(1970 Rev Ed)
The fifth revised edition was provided for by the Revised Edition of the Laws Act 1966. However, a large number of Ordinances and Acts were omitted from this revised edition including all private Ordinances. So this edition did not constitute the sole and only proper statute book of Singapore at the time.
 

Ref: K7399 1970

                    -------------- 

Annual supplement (1970-85)
Ref: K7399 1970 S

1985 The Statutes of the Republic of Singapore
(1985 Rev Ed)
This Revised Edition was published as a red, multi-volume "loose-booklet" series and individual Acts were arranged by chapter number (alphabetical order). It only came into force on 30th March 1987 (S93/87)
 

Ref: K7399 1985

Online: Singapore Statutes Online

1986 - The Statutes of the Republic of Singapore
(Revised editions)

After 1985, new Acts would be inserted by chapter number among the existing Acts in the red binders. When Acts were revised, the new booklets containing the revised Acts would replace the old editions in the binders.

The latest revised editions of Singapore Acts are available as individual booklets in the Law Library's RBR section behind the Loans Desk.

Note: The revised edition of an Act is authoritative and is the sole and only proper law in respect of that Act.

Ref: K7399 ...
(refer to LINC for exact location)

Online: Singapore Statutes Online  (selected 1970, 1985-86, 1988 - 2015, 2017)    

1986 - Singapore Acts
(Current versions)

The current or consolidated versions of Singapore Acts are made available by the Attorney-General's Chambers on Singapore Statutes Online (SSO).

In this version, the latest amendments are incorporated into the latest revised version of the Act. However, this is the unofficial version of Singapore legislation - it is not and should not be relied upon as the authoritative text.

Online: Singapore Statutes Online

Latest gazetted Acts
Ref: K7399 SA
Online:
(i) *eGazette
(ii) Singapore Statutes Online

Full Text Databases

*eGazette
The electronic version of the Government Gazette contains the Bills Supplement, Acts Supplement, Subsidiary Legislation Supplement and Treaties Supplement from 1998.

*LawNet (access: Faculty of Law) (access: Other NUS staff & students)
This subscription database contains current and previous revised editions of the Singapore statutes and subsidiary legislation.

The Laws of the Straits Settlements 1835-1919
The C J Koh Law Library has digitised this 5-volume set which contains laws that are an important part of Singapore's legal history.

Singapore Statutes Online (SSO)
Current versions and previous revised editions of Singapore Acts are made available by the Attorney-General's Chambers.

* indicates subscription database.

Indexes

A few of these indexes are accompanied by detailed commentaries on the sources of law.

Resource Librarian

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Lee Su-Lin
Contact:
C J Koh Law Library
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