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30 Sing. L. Rev. 147 (2012)
Expecting the Right Thing: The Imperative for Recognising Substantive Legitimate Expectations in Singapore

handle is hein.journals/singlrev30 and id is 147 raw text is: Singapore Law Review
(2012) 30 Sing L Re,
Recognition of a legitimate expectation for a substantive benefit has long been fiaught
with controversy both within jurisdictions that do and do not adopt the doctrine. This ar-
ticle seeks to assess the validity and utility of the doctrine of substantive legitimate expecta-
tions as it has developed in common law4 jurisdictions and extrapolate a conclusion which
would be of guidance as to what the Singapore position on the doctrine ought to be. This ar-
ticle argues that on balance the doctrine of substantive legitimate expectations is a wel-
come addition to the landscape of administrative law4 in Singapore and that the seminal case
of Abdul Nasir bin Amer Hamsah v. Public Prosecutor has paved the way for its applica-
tion even though the dearth of subsequent case law has rendered its manifestation uncertain.
The doctrine of substantive legitimate expectations (SLE) in UK administrative law has been
brought back to the fore in recent times, its once uncertain position having been definitively
affirmed in the seminal case of R. v. North and East Devon Health Authorio; ex parte Coughlan'
(Coughlan). While Singapore has largely adhered to UK developments in administrative law,
the applicability of the doctrine to the local context was recently doubted by Lai Siu Chiu J. in
UDL Marine v. Jurong Town Council (UDL Marine).' Since the Singapore Court of Appeal has
yet to apply its mind squarely to the issue and make a definitive ruling, the applicability of the
doctrine in Singapore administrative law is open to debate.
This paper argues that a critical analysis of the doctrine as it has developed in English common
law will lead to the conclusion that a substantive dimension to legitimate expectations should
be recognised by Singapore courts. Even though the doctrine has been exposed to significant
criticism, it is argued that the problems postulated are surmountable at best and speculative at
worst. Given that the doctrine is in line with core principles of Singapore administrative law,
* The authors are third year LL. B. students at the Singapore Management University School of Law. This
article is based on research papers written forAssistant Professor Jack Tsen-Ta Lee's course on Constitutional
and Administrative Law in Academic Year 2011/2012. Any and all errors and omissions remain ours. We
would like to dedicate this article to our families for their unending support and encouragement. Yi Siong
would like to dedicate this article to his late father.
1  [2001] Q.B. 213 (C.A.).
2   [2011] 3 Sing. L.R. 94 (H.C.) at paras. 65 66.

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