Singapore Law On Automotive Emissions Standards And Automobile Product Liability

With the continuing development of the Volkswagen scandal, Ian Roberts and Marcus Yip* explain the country's law with which motor vehicles' purchasers can bring action against motor manufacturers and trade dealers.

On 18 September this year, US regulators announced that Volkswagen ("VW") had installed a so-called "defeat device" in many VW diesel vehicles sold in America. The device is a software that was designed to detect when the vehicle was undergoing official pollution testing, and to limit the production of harmful levels of nitrogen oxide during such testing.

In Singapore, in a statement released by VW Singapore on 12 October 2015, VW confirmed that there were 662 VW diesel vehicles registered in Singapore that have "software that could cause discrepancies in nitrogen oxide values during dynamometer runs".

Given the relatively small number of vehicles involved, the impact of the crisis in Singapore would appear to be fairly limited. In this article, we consider some of the legal issues under Singapore law relating to automotive emissions standards and product liability laws applicable to vehicle manufacturers and dealers in general.

Regulatory issues

Emissions standards for vehicles are prescribed by the National Environment Agency of Singapore (the "NEA") in the Environment Protection and Management (Vehicular Emissions) Regulations (the "VER"). Singapore law on automotive emissions standards and automobile product liability.

The VER presently prescribes minimum emissions standards for vehicles in Singapore by reference to certain standards that have been issued in the European Community and Japan. In order for a motor vehicle to be imported and registered in Singapore by the Land Transport Authority, the vehicle must comply with NEA's emissions standards requirements.

A person or entity that imports a vehicle in Singapore in contravention of applicable emission standards by falsely representing to the authorities that it complies with such standards is potentially liable for a criminal offence.

The VER also gives the Director-General of Environmental Protection (appointed under the Environmental Protection and Management Act) the power, with the approval of the Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, to prohibit or restrict the use of motor vehicles of any specified class or description on any roads in Singapore if the Director-General is satisfied that the prohibition or restriction is necessary to safeguard public...

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