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Oral judgment passed on AHTC trial, new claims disallowed for Pritam Singh and two others

The AHTC had applied to amend its claims in May 2020, after the verdict was passed, increasing the amount of damages filed

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Singapore – The High Court released an oral judgment on the case of Workers’ Party (WP) leader Pritam Singh and four other individuals against the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) disallowing new claims against some of the defendants.

Mr Pritam took to Facebook on Thursday (Aug 27) to inform the public of the recent updates on the multi-million-dollar civil suit by the AHTC regarding their management of the town council. The defendants had been keeping transparency on case matters through a blog In Good Faith.

AHTC trial proceedings

Justice Kannan Ramesh dismissed parts of an application made by AHTC, noting the request for amendments were made after he had delivered his verdict in October 2019.

One of the rejected claims was a statement that Mr Pritam and then-AHTC councillors Chua Zhi Hon and Kenneth Foo Seck Guan had breached their duty of care and skill as fiduciaries and or duties of care and skill to AHTC.

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Another was a claim stating that the defendants “had the means and knowledge of and knew or ought to have known” about certain facts under their position as elected or appointed members of AHTC, which would “have awakened suspicion and put a prudent man on his guard”.

The other defendants in the case are Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, former WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang, managing agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and its director How Weng Fan, who acts on behalf of and in the capacity of her late husband, Mr Danny Loh.

The verdict in October 2019 found the defendants liable for breaching various types of duties indebted to AHTC and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) between 2011 and 2015.

Among the critical issues in the civil suit were a “flawed” approval process of payments for services FMSS provided to AHTC, four contracts awarded to FMSS without calling for a tender, and FMSS leaders being found with conflicts of interests due to the dual roles they maintained in AHTC and FMSS.

Oral Judgment passed on amendments

The AHTC applied to amend its claims in May 2020, after the verdict was passed, increasing the amount of damages filed.

Justice Ramesh noted that the AHTC chose to separate its claims from PRPTC when they should be consolidated. The plaintiff requested for their amendments be granted highlighting “the ends of justice” and that their statements were aligned with PRPTC’s.

“Notably, AHTC has not offered an explanation, either in the supporting affidavit or in its submissions, as to why it did not at the outset align its pleadings with PRPTC’s, and why the application has been brought so late in the day,” said Justice Ramesh. “Accordingly, insofar as the proposed amendments seek to introduce new causes of action in (AHTC’s suit), they ought not to be allowed.”

Furthermore, the recent oral judgment passed disallowed new claims against Mr Pritam, Mr Chua and Mr Foo. In respect to the amendments allowed for Ms Lim and Mr Low, “the court has since clarified that no findings of breach had been made in relation to the claims that were part of the amendments allowed”.

Although adjourned several times this year, the defendants are scheduled to appeal against the October verdict at a later date.

The High Court last week released its Oral Judgment on AHTC’s application to introduce new heads of claim and to amend…

Posted by Pritam Singh on Thursday, 27 August 2020

Read related:

AHTC’s attempt to amend claim “prejudicial”: WP lawyers

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