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12 October 2020

Burden of Proof and False Statements of Fact under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019 [Case Comment]

Marcus Teo Wei Ren & Kiu Yan Yu

Published on e-First 12 October 2020

Abstract:
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019 (Act 18 of 2019) (“POFMA”) was passed after heated debates in and out of Parliament. Recent instances in which Pt 3 Directions were issued under the Act led to appeals by affected statement-makers, with the first two High Court decisions concerning POFMA taking opposing positions on a crucial question: on whom does the burden of proving the truth or falsity of a subject statement lie in such appeals? This comment examines this issue in light of the two cases, taking the position that both Art 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Reprint) and a purposive interpretation of the statute favour imposing the burden on the Government.