Parol Evidence Rule
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About the project

The Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee examined the parol evidence rule, which provides that when a transaction is recorded in a document, it is generally not permissible to adduce extrinsic evidence of the transaction, that is, evidence of (1) the terms of the transaction, (2) terms not included in the document expressly or by reference, or (3) a party’s intended meaning. These distinct rules are reflected in sections 93 to 102 of the Evidence Act (Chapter 97, 1997 Revised Edition).

Although abolition of the rule had been recommended by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Law Reform Commission in British Columbia, the Committee felt that the rule continues to serve a useful function and should be retained. It recommended that aspects of the rule in the Evidence Act should be refined, including clarifying the rule’s scope of application, the relationship between sections 93 and 94, the applicability of common law exceptions to the rule, and the relationship between provisions dealing with the construction of documents (section 94(f) and sections 95 to 100). It was also of the view that extrinsic proof of collateral contracts should be allowed, even where this is inconsistent with a written agreement.

Project status: Completed

  • The report was published in November 2006.
  • The Court of Appeal cited the report in Zurich Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd v B-Gold Interior Design & Construction Pte Ltd [2008] SGCA 27, [2008] 3 Singapore Law Reports (Reissue) [SLR(R)] 1029 at paragraph 99 when examining section 94(f) of the Evidence Act.
  • The report has also been referred to in the following works:
    • Goh Yihan, “The Case for Departing from the Exclusionary Rule against Prior Negotiations in the Interpretation of Contracts in Singapore(2013) 25 Singapore Academy of Law Journal [Sing Acad LJ] 182 at page 193, paragraph 19, footnotes 64–67.
    • Goh Yihan, “The New Contractual Interpretation in Singapore: From Zurich Insurance to Sembcorp Marine” [2013] Singapore Journal of Legal Studies [Sing J Legal Studies] 301 at pages 306–307, footnotes 33 and 35–38; and at page 312, footnote 92.

Areas of law

Evidence law


Report of the Law Reform Committee on the Review of the Parol Evidence Rule

Click on the image above to view the report

Last updated 7 June 2019