It is official. Singaporeans have Pokemon Go fever. Public spaces are more crowded than ever and players are congregating towards Pokestops and Gyms.
With this increase in public interaction, here are some laws that you might know you could be breaking.
1. In your search to catch ‘em all, you could end up committing trespass
If you enter someone’s land without their permission, you can be found guilty of the offence of trespass. There are multiple areas in Singapore which you should not enter.
The most obvious places are government controlled areas such as military bases or prisons. According to section 21 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (CHAPTER 184), individuals who enter such areas can be found guilty of willful trespass on property.
But what is not as well known is that places of worship, burial places and areas set apart for performance of funeral rites are also areas protected by the law. According to Section 297 of the Penal Code, if you enter such an area with the knowledge that your actions will insult the religion of others, you can be found guilty of trespass.
For example, if there is a wake or funeral proceedings at the void deck of your HDB block, you can be found guilty of trespass if you interfere with the proceedings in your quest to catch a Dratini. The punishment for this offence is a jail term of 3 years and/or a fine.
2. Your constant Pokemon training activities must be a nuisance to others
Even if you don’t walk onto another person’s land, your presence might be a legal wrong. The tort of private nuisance allows home owners to sue other individuals whose activities interfere with their enjoyment and use of the land.
For example, if Pokemon trainers congregate in public areas outside your house and create a lot of noise late into the night, this could be a form of nuisance.
But it’s important to point out that if such interference is temporary, it will be hard for home owners to sue a particular player or players. Only if home owners can prove that the same players persistently create noise and interference will they be able to sue the other party for nuisance.
3. If you own a business or run an organization, you might be responsible for any injuries suffered by Pokemon Trainers when they visit your premises
In response to Pokemon go, some businesses and organizations have opened up their doors to welcome Pokemon trainers. One example is the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, who recently posted a nice welcome message on Facebook.
However, it’s important to note that the owner of the premises might be responsible for any injuries suffered by the Pokemon Trainers who entered “lawfully”. Under the tort of Negligence, an owner of the premises who is in control of the premises must take due care and attention to prevent visitors from suffering harm.
If visitors fall through a pothole or fall on a slippery floor, the owners of the premises might be found guilty of negligence and will have to compensate their visitors for the harm they have suffered.
4. Meeting others at a Pokestop could be an illegal gathering
Under section 141 of the Penal Code, a gathering of 5 or more persons might be the crime of “unlawful assembly” if their common intention is to commit any offence or if the group resist the execution of any legal process by the Police.
This means that if there is gathering underneath a void deck and the individuals there resist the police or show criminal force to the residents there, it might be possible that these Pokemon Trainers will be found guilty of the crime of Unlawful Assembly.
Pokemon Go is here to stay
Pokemon Go is hugely popular and this craze is likely to be here for a while longer. Although many Singaporeans are caught up in the Pokemon Go craze, it is important to be aware of the unintended consequences of your actions.