Singapore — Lawyers for Workers’ Party (WP) town councillors have described the move by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) to amend its claims in a case that is now under appeal as “prejudicial” and an abuse of the court process.
On Monday (Aug 3), straitstimes.com reported that lawyers for AHTC had applied to add amendments to the claims against WP leader Pritam Singh as well as four other individuals involved in a case that had already been decided in 2019 by the High Court.
Justice Kannan Ramesh heard the application to amend the statement of claim in chambers on Monday and has reserved judgment on the matter.
Last October, the judge had found eight defendants, including Mr Low Thia Khiang, the former Secretary-General of the WP, and Ms Sylvia Lim, the party Chairman, liable for several breaches.
They have filed an appeal against the verdict, which will be heard in the Court of Appeal later this month.
While this move by the AHTC is rare, a plaintiff is allowed to ask the court to allow that statement of claim be amended at any stage, even after a judgement has been handed down from a lower court and before an appeal is heard.
It was reported that AHTC’s lawyers Shook Lin & Bok filed papers seeking amendments to add to the claims against Mr Singh, Mr David Chua Zhi Hon and Mr Kenneth Foo, who were all town councillors during the time of the case, as well as the owners of FM Solutions & Services, the managing agent company, and its sister company FM Solutions and Integrated Services, Ms How Weng Fan, and as the representative of the estate of Mr Danny Loh, her husband, now deceased.
“AHTC avers that Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Chua Zhi Hon and Mr Kenneth Foo breached their duty of care and skill qua fiduciary and/or duty of care and skill in tort to AHTC,” according to the amended statement for which court approval is being sought.
The WP submitted a document, the “1st to 5th Defendant’s Written Submissions for the Plaintiff’s Application to amend its Statement of Claim“, which Mr Singh posted on his Facebook account on Monday afternoon.
The defendants say that the trial has finished and the judgment has been pronounced and that the proposed amendments have been intended to take advantage of the judgment, under which another lawsuit from by the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) was covered.
The AHTC had taken the defendants to court due to S$33 million in improper payments made at the time period covered by the suit.
Justice Ramesh had said that Mr Low and Ms Lim had “acted dishonestly” and were “in breach of their fiduciary duties”. Along with Ms Lim and Mr Low, Mr Singh was also found liable for damages suffered not only by AHTC but also by PRPTC.
The judge added that Ms Lim and Mr Low had placed their own political interests over the interest of their constituents when they awarded contracts to FM Solutions & Services and FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI) without calling a tender.
The WP’s lawyers from Tan Rajah and Cheah, representing the WP town councillors, and Netto and Magin, representing Ms How, have said that the AHTC is trying to “take a second bite of the cherry”.
The lawyers added: “The prejudice suffered is irremediable as the first to fifth defendants would have conducted their defence differently if these claims had been made at the outset.” /TISG
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