Explainer: Why some wrongdoing is probed by the police however different situations can result in a civil declare

Just lately, a police report was filed towards Kwon Do Hyeong, the co-founder of Terraform Labs, in relation to the crash of cryptocurrencies TerraUSD and Luna. Nonetheless, it seems that the police aren’t investigating the matter.

This could be as a result of there isn’t any offence disclosed. Not all types of wrongdoing are essentially legal.

There’s a distinction in Singapore’s authorized system between civil and legal legislation: Civil circumstances are disputes between non-public events, whereas legal circumstances typically relate to wrongs towards society which are enforced by the state.

For instance, breach of contract is a typical type of civil fallacious and the right authorized process is to sue the particular person in breach.

This was what occurred to blogger Ang Chiew Ting, often called Bong Qiu Qiu, who was sued in 2016 by social media promoting community ChurpChurp for allegedly breaching her contract and denying it of charges from what it mentioned have been business offers with greater than 30 manufacturers together with beauty manufacturers reminiscent of Laneige, Yves Saint Laurent and Etude Home.

In distinction, for instance, dishonest is an offence — a legal fallacious — and the right authorized treatment is to prosecute the offender.

That is what occurred to dentist Andy Joshua Warren, who in 2015 tried to avoid Medisave declare limits by authorising the submission of false claims, dishonest the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board into disbursing S$11,250.

He was prosecuted and just lately fined S$45,000 after pleading responsible to dishonest fees.

Legal circumstances are typically extra critical. In contrast to civil circumstances, if convicted, the offender will be disadvantaged of his liberty or, for sure offences reminiscent of homicide, even his life.

Parliament decides what constitutes legal conduct. Offences are normally outlined in Acts of Parliament, also called statutes, such because the Penal Code.


The police are given particular powers to research offences by legislation, for instance, by the Legal Process Code, which is a statute. These powers embody, for instance, the power to compel the manufacturing of proof, confiscate proof, and take statements from any particular person essential to the investigation.
Nonetheless, the police should train these powers in keeping with legislation. That is to forestall abuse of energy and to protect the civil rights of bizarre residents. Powers of investigation are intrusive and will subsequently be exercised solely when strictly mandatory.

The police exist to forestall and examine crime. They’re a public power devoted to serving the general public, and don’t serve non-public pursuits.

Due to this fact, they’re typically not concerned within the investigation of civil wrongs – that might be an unjustified use of taxpayers’ cash.

In such circumstances, if no legal fallacious is disclosed in a report, the police is not going to train their powers of investigation.


First, whether it is apparent that no offence has been dedicated, the police might merely decline to research.

In Singapore, individuals are typically overzealous with reporting to the police: Something from misplaced gadgets to annoyance with neighbours’ conduct to breach of enterprise agreements.

The police have to prioritise scarce sources and never waste time on issues which are simply not legal.

Second, the matter could also be thought-about by the Lawyer-Basic’s Chambers (AGC).

The Lawyer-Basic is the Public Prosecutor and, beneath the Structure, has the ability to begin or cease any legal proceedings.

If AGC determines that no offence has been disclosed, it could direct the police or every other investigating company to take no additional motion.

For instance, after reviewing the proof, AGC directed that no additional motion be taken by the Ministry of Manpower towards the household of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong after it was alleged by his former home employee Parti Liyani that that they had illegally deployed her at his son’s house and workplace.

Third, any particular person might make a Justice of the Peace’s Criticism to the State Courts. A Justice of the Peace is a judicial officer — a decide — and, if there’s adequate trigger, might look into the criticism or direct the police to hold out investigations.


Not all wrongs are civil wrongs. Civil wrongs require a legally recognised foundation for starting authorized proceedings, often called a “explanation for motion”, for instance, breach of contract or negligence.

Usually, the complainant (often called the plaintiff) should collect his personal proof and begin the case. In contrast to the police, plaintiffs do not need any particular powers of investigation, so typically it’s tough to take action.

Nonetheless, the usual of proof in civil circumstances is decrease. To win, the plaintiff must show his case solely on the steadiness of chances, which means extra doubtless true than not.

In legal circumstances, in distinction, the prosecution must show the case past cheap doubt to acquire a conviction.

For easy circumstances, it’s doable for a plaintiff to conduct the authorized proceedings by himself. For instance, the Small Claims Tribunal is designed particularly for easy civil circumstances by which attorneys aren’t required.

Nonetheless, for extra advanced circumstances, normally a civil lawyer will likely be engaged to advise on an applicable explanation for motion and symbolize the plaintiff within the authorized proceedings.

Circumstances are both civil or legal, by no means each. The legislation governing civil and legal circumstances differs and it’s subsequently necessary to maintain them distinct.

Nonetheless, the identical set of information might give rise to 2 separate circumstances, one legal and one civil, that proceed in parallel.

For instance, a site visitors accident may end result within the offender being each prosecuted by the state for reckless driving and being individually sued by the sufferer for private harm and property harm.


Within the current cryptocurrency crash, first, it’s not clear whether or not any offence has been dedicated. The truth that Luna and TerraUSD collapsed just isn’t, with out extra, proof of legal exercise.

Cryptocurrencies are inherently dangerous investments.

For the police to research, there must be some indication of legal conduct reminiscent of dishonest.

Nonetheless, dishonest requires dishonesty and deception, reminiscent of within the case of serial fraudster Kalimahton Samsuri who, between 2012 and 2015, intentionally deceived her victims into believing that she had varied funding alternatives for them, which didn’t the truth is exist.

In distinction, a real enterprise that collapses out of unhealthy luck or unhealthy enterprise situations just isn’t a legal matter.

Second, it is usually not clear that any civil fallacious has been dedicated. There isn’t a such factor as a totally risk-free funding and the truth that cash has been misplaced just isn’t essentially purpose for the legislation to intervene.

Affected traders would in all probability have to have interaction attorneys to find out whether or not they have any explanation for motion and whether or not they have adequate proof to show it in court docket.

The legislation protects folks from wrongdoing, not from danger or loss. If somebody suffers loss due to their very own selections, misunderstandings, or plain unhealthy luck, then typically, there’s merely nothing the legislation can do.


Alexander Woon is a lecturer at Singapore College of Social Sciences’ College of Legislation and practises legislation as an of counsel at RHTLaw Asia. He was previously a deputy public prosecutor on the Lawyer-Basic’s Chambers.