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Justice George Wei leaves Supreme Court Bench

President Halimah Yacob has accepted the resignation of Justice George Wei (韦 思 舜) from the Supreme Court Bench, effective 1 August 2018.

2. Justice Wei joined the Supreme Court as a Judicial Commissioner on 1 August 2013 and was appointed a Judge in 2015. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore (1992 – 2005) and the Singapore Management University (2005 - 2013).

3. As the lead judge for Intellectual Property (IP), Justice Wei has contributed immensely to the jurisprudence of IP law in Singapore. He chaired the IP Dispute Resolution Framework Committee which made recommendations to the Government on how to enhance access to the IP dispute resolution system, especially for less resourced parties.

4. Justice Wei is known for a number of landmark decisions covering all the key areas of IP law on copyright, patents and trademarks. His decision in Global Yellow Pages Ltd v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd [2016] 2 SLR 165 elucidated the law on the key question of copyright in compilations such as telephone directories, while in Warner-Lambert Company LLC v Novartis (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2016] 4 SLR 252, the law on post-grant amendments to patents was also clarified. On the law of trade marks, Justice Wei’s decision in the related cases brought by brand names Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, Hermes and Sanrio against Megastar Shipping dealt with the novel issue of whether a freight forwarder could be held liable for trade mark infringements for its involvement in the transshipment of counterfeit goods through Singapore. In addition, Justice Wei also sat as a member of the Court of Appeal which decided the major trade mark case brought by Nestle to enforce its mark in the form of the shape of its well-known chocolate wafer bars, Kit Kat: Societe Des Produits Nestlé SA and another v Petra Foods Limited and another [2017] 1 SLR 35.

5. Justice Wei has also contributed significantly to several other areas of jurisprudence outside of IP law. His decision in Abani Trading Pte Ltd v BNP Paribas and another [2014] 3 SLR 909, which concerned the scope of a bank’s duty to examine bills of lading and other documents presented under a letter of credit, was reported in the Lloyd’s Law Reports (at [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 617). He has delivered several important decisions on labour law, such as Hasan Shofiqul v China Civil (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2018] SGHC 128, in which he held that workmen who held supervisory roles were not to be automatically regarded as executives under the Act and therefore could still be entitled to statutory overtime wages.

6. In appreciation of Justice Wei’s contributions to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said, “I would like to express my sincere thanks to George for his invaluable contributions to the Supreme Court Bench. He has been a valued colleague who has worked tirelessly. His judgments have always been learned and within a relatively short span of time, he has had a considerable impact in the development of our law, especially in the field of intellectual property law. He has also worked hard on the Legal Heritage Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law and under his chairmanship, several key projects were implemented to promote awareness of Singapore’s legal history. We are much indebted to him and will miss him very much. On behalf of the Judiciary, we wish George the very best in all his future endeavours.”

7. In leaving the Supreme Court, Justice Wei said, “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore. The chance to play a small part in upholding the Rule of Law is a privilege for which I am and will always be very grateful.”

8. Aside from Justice Wei, the Supreme Court has a total of 20 Judges (including four Judges of Appeal and the Chief Justice), six Judicial Commissioners (including Mr Dedar Gill whose appointment as judicial commissioner takes effect on 1 Aug 2018), four Senior Judges and 15 International Judges.


17 JULY 2018


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