Negligent Reference Check Cost SGD 3.2 million in Damages

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


1. Introduction

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.


2. Approach Taken in Performing the Assessment

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.


3. Conclusion

The opposing party appealed the High Court judge’s assessment of damages to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal largely upheld the High Court judge’s decision, reducing the award to approximately SGD 3.2 million.