Recent Cases
Ramesh s/o Krishnan v AXA Life Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 197

This High Court case arose from the successful appeal in Ramesh s/o Krishnan v AXA Life Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd [2016] 4 SLR 1124. The High Court judge had to assess a former financial services director’s lost earnings as a result of the defendant-financial institution’s negligent reference check.

 

The High Court judge accepted our legal arguments as to the novel point of what approach the court should take in performing this assessment, especially where the earnings lost are:- (a) dependent on various counterfactual events which may be uncertain (for instance, performance-based commissions); and (b) would have been otherwise certain had the defendant not been negligent and therefore not deprived the plaintiff of his employment. The High Court judge assessed the plaintiff’s lost earnings as SGD 4.026 million plus interest.

Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGCA 44

We have acted for the accused in this case since 2013 as assigned counsel under the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences. In 2014, we had conduct of the accused’s trial, in which the High Court judge acquitted the accused of the charge of drug trafficking (Public Prosecutor v Hamidah Bte Awang and another [2015] SGHC 4). However in 2015, the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court judge’s acquittal and convicted him the accused as charged. The Court of Appeal then remitted the matter to the High Court judge to rule on whether the accused should be sentenced to death, or to life imprisonment (Public Prosecutor v Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi [2015] SGCA 33).

 

In 2017, while the High Court sentencing proceedings were still on-going, we had conduct of the applicant’s application to the Court of Appeal to review its previous decision in 2015. This was on the basis that certain medical evidence which transpired after the Court of Appeal’s 2015 decision showed there was a powerful probability that the Court of Appeal made an error in convicting the accused. For the first time in Singapore’s legal history, the Court of Appeal agreed with us that there was a powerful probability that it had made an error in its 2015 decision. The Court of Appeal accordingly remitted the matter to the High Court judge, to hear further evidence and make findings on issues arising from the new medical evidence. At a subsequent stage, the Court of Appeal will then make a final decision on whether the appellant is guilty or innocent.

Liew Zheng Yang v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGHC 157

We acted for the appellant in this case, successfully arguing that the District Court’s conviction of the appellant for the charge of conspiring with another to traffic drugs to himself was wrong in law. The High Court judge accepted our submission that where an accused orders drugs from another for his own consumption, the accused cannot be liable for a conspiracy to traffic drugs to himself.

 

The High Court judge accordingly quashed the appellant’s wrong conviction. The High Court judge then convicted him with the lesser (and legally correct) charge of attempting to possess drugs for his own consumption.

Hiroshi Morimoto (As Trustee in Bankruptcy of Masahiko Nishiyama pursuant to the Order of the Kyoto District Court) v Masahiko Nishiyama & 4 Ors, Case No HC/OS 210/2017

We acted for a Japanese trustee in bankruptcy, successfully obtaining a court order seizing SGD 124 million of monies parked in various Singapore bank accounts by one Masahiko Nishiyama. A Kyoto court had adjudicated Nishiyama to be bankrupt, as well as convicted Nishiyama of dissipating assets around the world in fraud of Nishiyama’s creditors.

 

In granting the order, the High Court recognised a foreign trustee in bankruptcy of an individual bankrupt. This was the first time this has been done by a Singapore court.

Rohini d/o Balasubramaniam v Yeow Khim Whye Kelvin and another [2017] SGHC 149

We acted for a property agency, successfully defending this SGD 830,000 lawsuit. The plaintiff argued that the property agency should be made legally responsible for the fraud of a rogue agent, who had misappropriated the plaintiff’s bank account monies. The High Court judge dismissed the plaintiff’s claim largely on the basis that it was the plaintiff’s own severe carelessness in giving the agent blank cheques, which had caused her loss. The plaintiff has appealed the judge’s decision to the Court of Appeal.

Attorney-General v Ting Choon Meng and another appeal [2017] 1 SLR 373

We acted for the Singapore current affairs website, The Online Citizen, successfully responding to the Government’s appeal to the Court of Appeal. This case involved a question of statutory interpretation as to whether the Government was a ‘person’ under Section 15 of the Protection of Harassment Act and was therefore entitled to bring the Online Citizen to Court to seek an order that certain statements made by the Online Citizen about MINDEF were false.

 

In a rare 2-1 split decision, the majority of the Court agreed with our argument that the word ‘person’ under the Protection from Harassment Act could not be construed as extending to the Government. There was accordingly no legal basis for the Government to have commenced court proceedings against the Online Citizen under Section 15 of the Protection from Harassment Act.

Masoud Rahimi bin Mehrzad v Public Prosecutor and another appeal [2017] 1 SLR 257

We acted for the 2nd appellant in the Court of Appeal.  In its grounds of decision, the Court of Appeal considered and clarified the law in relation to the presumption of knowledge of drugs under section 18 (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act.  The Court held that the subjective state of knowledge of drugs in an accused person’s possession must be evaluated against the objective circumstances surrounding the offence and that the reasonable man’s perspective is a useful evidential tool in assessing the accused person’s state of knowledge.

Prabagaran a/l Srivijayan v Public Prosecutor and other matters [2017] 1 SLR 173

We had conduct of four applications by persons who had been sentenced to death as a result of:- (a) being convicted with drug offences which attract the death penalty; and (b) not being given a certificate of substantive assistance by the Public Prosecutor. In these applications, we argued that the applicants’ death sentences were unconstitutional. The primary ground of challenge was that Section 33B(2)(b), by vesting in the Public Prosecutor the power to decide whether or not to grant a certificate of substantive assistance to a person who has been convicted of an offence punishable with the death penalty, in substance vests the Public Prosecutor with a judicial power, and is therefore in breach of the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

 

These applications were eventually dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Phosagro Asia Pte Ltd v Piattchanine louri [2016] 5 SLR 1052

The Court of Appeal had in the context of an employment contract to interprete what the phrase ‘serious misconduct’ entailed.  The Court held that as there was no definition of ‘serious misconduct’ in the contract, the most principled approach would be to look to the common law principle relating to discharge by breach (i.e a repudiatory breach) for guidance.

Ramesh s/o Krishnan v AXA Life Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd [2016] 4 SLR 1124

We were successful in arguing a novel point of law in the Court of Appeal in relation to standard of care in tort applicable in the context of a former employer preparing a performance reference for an employee. The Court of Appeal accepted our argument that the defendant-financial institution had breached its duty of care in preparing a reference check for a former financial services director, whom we act for.

 

The Court also found that the defendant’s breach caused the financial services to be deprived of employment in another financial institution. Accordingly, the Court reversed the High Court judge’s decision which had dismissed the financial services director’s claim, and remitted the matter to the High Court judge for assessment of damages.

TDT v TDS and another appeal and another matter [2016] 4 SLR 145

This case dealt with inter alia the novel point of law in relation to the scope of a non-biological parent’s duty under the Women’s Charter to maintain a child. We were successful in arguing for the husband for a reduction in relation to the wife’s share of the matrimonial assets and for his obligation to maintain the child to end at the point of the grant of the interim divorce order.

Chan Siew Lee Jannie v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd [2016] 3 SLR 239

The Court of Appeal considered the issue of whether the existence of third party security (security not provided by the debtor, but held by the Creditor in respect of the debt) affected the right of a creditor to be admitted to the bankruptcy process and to prove the full amount of his debt.

Ting Choon Meng v Attorney-General and another appeal [2016] 1 SLR 1248

We acted for The Online Citizen. We successfully argued before the High Court that the Government was not a ‘person’ within the meaning of Section 15 of the Harassment Act and therefore did not have the right to invoke that section to compel our clients to state that their article contained falsehoods or to take down the article. The case is currently before the Court of Appeal.

Piattchanine, Iouri v Phosagro Asia Pte Ltd [2015] 5 SLR 1072

We were successful in this claim by a former employee of a multi-national company against the company for wrongful dismissal. This case dealt with whether an employee’s alleged misconduct was sufficiently serious enough to cause the employer to summarily terminate his employment contract. The High Court Judge who heard the trial held that the misconduct was not sufficiently serious and allowed our client’s claim for damages.

Chan Siew Lee v TYC Investment Pte Ltd and others and another appeal [2015] 5 SLR 409

This case, which was before the Court of Appeal dealt with the novel and contentious point of law on what (if any) reserve management powers shareholders have when the board of directors is at a deadlock.

Quek Hock Lye v Public Prosecutor [2015] 2015 2 SLR 563

This was a Constitutional Law case heard by the Court of Appeal which dealt with the issue of whether the retroactive amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act (“MDA”) which enable some drug traffickers who were already convicted and sentenced to death to apply to be resentenced to life imprisonment instead, violated Article 12 (1) of the Constitution.

UFM v UFN [2017] SGHCF 22

We represented an Indonesian divorcee in a successful application for permission to commence proceedings for division of Singapore matrimonial property, consequential upon a divorce decreed in the Indonesian courts. This case considered the novel issues of:- (a) the extent to which a divorcee’s decision not to exhaust remedies in the foreign divorce court precludes an application for financial relief in Singapore under Chapter 4A of the Women’s Charter; and (b) the applicability of the doctrine of forum conveniens to the Singapore court’s exercise of its discretion to allow financial relief under Chapter 4A of the Women’s Charter.