Connect with us

Court Cases

Court orders town councils in AHTC case to pay S$388,800 in costs and disbursements to Workers’ Party leaders and defendants

The lengthy civil suits alleging public fund misuse at Aljunied-Hougang town councils have come to an end with town council directed to pay S$388,800 in appeal costs to the defendants.

Eight defendants, including Workers’ Party leaders and former town officials, were part of these suits.

Published

on

SINGAPORE: The recent development in the prolonged civil suits involving alleged misuse of public funds saw the two town councils, Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Sengkang Town Council (SKTC), ordered to pay a total of about S$388,800 (US$292,000) in costs and disbursements for the appeals.

These suits targeted eight defendants, including Workers’ Party (WP) leaders Ms Sylvia Lim, Mr Low Thia Khiang, and Mr Pritam Singh, along with their former managing agent FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), and four other former town councillors or employees.

The breakdown of the S$388,800 in costs and disbursements reveals that AHTC is required to pay S$176,241.11 for two appeals, while SKTC has to pay S$212,543.52 for three appeals to the town councillors, employees, and executives of FMSS.

On Wednesday (29 Nov), the Court of Appeal released a comprehensive 38-page judgment, elucidating the reasons behind mandating the payment of costs by the two councils.

The Apex court clarified that costs are typically granted to the prevailing party.

In this instance, the town councillors and employees achieved substantial success in their appeals, effectively overturning multiple findings by the trial judge, leading to their entitlement to costs.

Moreover, the five-judge panel, including Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Justice Judith Prakash, Justice Tay Yong Kwang, Judge of the Appellate Division Woo Bih Li, and Senior Judge Andrew Phang, noted that between AHTC and SKTC, SKTC experienced greater success in the appeals.

The judges emphasized that the victorious party in legal proceedings holds the entitlement to recover the costs incurred from the unsuccessful party.

Acknowledging that SKTC conceded that the town councillors, employees, and FMSS prevailed on more crucial matters, AHTC contended that it should receive the costs, asserting that the defendants hadn’t substantially succeeded in their appeals.

However, the court dismissed AHTC’s claim of being the prevailing party in the appeals and therefore eligible for costs.

Contrary to AHTC’s argument, the court highlighted that most of the issues raised in the appeals did not favour AHTC.

While AHTC did achieve some success against the town councillors and employees, establishing liability for certain serious breaches, it was evident that the defendants successfully overturned the trial court’s rulings, as clarified by the Apex Court.

The orders for costs have been issued approximately four months subsequent to the Court of Appeal’s decision regarding the parties’ accountability concerning the management of town council funds.

The expenses pertaining to the actual trial have not been finalized yet. These costs will only be determined once the assessment of damages has been completed.

Court of Appeal holds Workers’ Party leaders Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang liable for negligence; Pritam Singh cleared

The Court of Appeal has earlier ruled that the former town councillors and its employees of AHTC had acted in good faith when they awarded the contracts to their managing agent without an open tender.

On 7 July this year, the apex court determined that Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Chua Zhi Hon, and Mr Kenneth Foo Seck Guan were not liable to AHTC for the control failures in the System.

However, it found WP leader Sylvia Lim and former party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang liable for negligence in the AHTC payments process.

This judgement has provided vindication for the Workers’ Party (WP) and its senior members from the various allegations thrown upon them since a suit was filed by an independent panel on behalf of the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) in 2017 to claim damages from them for breaching their fiduciary duties to the town council.

An earlier judgement concluded that neither the Town Councillors nor the Employees owed fiduciary duties to AHTC or Sengkang Town Council after the Court of Appeal ruled that the former town councillors and its employees of AHTC, had acted in good faith when they awarded the contracts to their managing agent without an open tender.

Breaking down the roles and responsibilities of the defendants, the Court extensively scrutinized their involvement in the case.

“The amendments in respect of Mr Singh, Mr Chua, and Mr Foo were disallowed by the Judge because AHTC’s Statement of Claim did not allude to their roles in relation to the control failures in the System,” the judgement explained.

The Court agreed with the trial judge’s decision, which led to the conclusion that AHTC did not provide sufficient evidence that these individuals had approved or authorized the System.

Former AHTC Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, was found liable to STC in negligence for causing AHTC to award a contract to Red-Power Electrical Engineering Pte Ltd, having failed to discharge her burden of proof that she had acted in good faith when she chose not to renew the contracts with two other companies which offered the same services at significantly cheaper rates.

On the same note, Mr Low and Ms Lim were found liable to AHTC for negligence in allowing control failures in the System to occur.

The judgement also found Ms How Weng Fan, the managing agent director, and her late husband, Danny Low, liable for the same negligence.

The Court of Appeal, in making these determinations, underscored its agreement with the Judge in rejecting attempts by AHTC to amend its pleadings after trial and before the Appeals were heard on the grounds that AHTC’s Statement of Claim did not adequately detail these individuals’ roles in relation to the control failures in the System.

The judgement brought a complete reversal for FMSS, the company initially found by the lower court to be liable for dishonest assistance and knowing receipt in regard to the First Managing Agent (MA) Contract and the first Essential Maintenance Service Unit (EMSU) Contract.

However, the Court of Appeal concluded, “In so far as the Judge found FMSS liable for dishonest assistance and knowing receipt with regard to the First MA Contract and the First EMSU Contract…those claims against FMSS must necessarily fail.”

Significantly, the court resolved that FMSS is not liable to either AHTC or STC in any respect, contradicting the lower court’s judgment.

The Court explained, “We have reversed the Judge’s conclusions on these points in their entirety, and FMSS is hence not liable to either AHTC or STC in any respect.”

When it came to addressing the question of apportionment, the judgement was clear.

It stated, “There is no need to ‘apportion’ liability owed to the plaintiffs, and this court only needs to find, at this stage, which defendant(s) are liable to which plaintiff(s) for which claim(s). Any issue of apportionment of damages should be dealt with at the assessment of damages stage.”

The court in July this year determined that the costs of the trial should be decided by the trial judge after damages have been assessed, considering the trial judge is better placed to assess the costs in light of the decision in the Appeals and the actual damages that may be assessed in due course.

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
30 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
30 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Don’t celebrate yet as the outcome on the amounts payable by Low and SL has not been revealed

I remember there was a Jeyeretnam junior in this pane!?

Manipulate the Judicial System to win elections when democratic ABILITY fails.

That it required the islands most eminent judges, to include the Chief himself, … to produce a 38 page of “gobbledygook” on a case that began in 2017, … all because the ruling party had a “bee in its bonnet” and wanted to “fix” the opposition, right and proper.

An indictment of the, strictly, “in name only” kind of judiciary on the island, … that’s meant to be the pillar of law, order and justice in a civilised democracy.

The red dot, … could not have fallen further from its professed and perceived principles !!!

This may be another reason why Ah loong is so eager to hand over to LawlanWong for next elections – they likely know from their sources of the court’s decision for some time beforehand. Stupid political stunts like this only makes Singaporeans wonder wtf is he doing every day. We want actions on COL, employability, fair practices, making SG great again, Swiss standards, our TFR, etc… not his nor his ministers’ fuxking reputation. Honestly, sure they should fight to win back the lost GRCs, regain the people’s trust, show the world that SG still has fire in its belly, get… Read more »

This is by far the biggest joke of all the many jokes Pappy has displayed to all SG voters so far.Whoever help initiate this absurd case must unconditionally reimburse the town councils period.Let’s see how many more GRCs the incumbent will loose in the coming GE.So sad to witness such stupid thing can really happen in our once smart nation.

I followed many reports, news info, commentaries of, and from, all people and angles of Trumps court cases news – the 🇺🇸 Constitution is SO SOLID, SO FAIR, SO JUST, relatively, comparatively, JUXTAPOSED the SG Justice system REEKING of corruptible leanings, corruptible partisan-ships that favours so obviously things that has almost nothing to do with ACCEPTABLE JUSICIARY principles AND concepts.

SG Govt service can be seen as a BIG FAKE unit itself controlled politically, manipulated, which apparently IS NOT a public service per se at all times based on neutrality fit for purposes. What does the Constitution says?

Last edited 6 months ago by 80twenty

I suggest AHTC and SKTC after paying the fees awarded then engage their lawyer to sue that invisible party or parties that brought this case up to recover fully the $388k and further ask for damages to the tune of no less than $200k from these invisible party or parties that instigated the case

In sg, many feel that every policy of every political thingie by the powers is Boh Bian one. To prove this easily, ask any stranger singaporean on the streets these: 1. What’s your view on the COE at record prices. Their answers are typically ” Boh Bian”. 2. What’s your view on the GST , water and electricity many many hikes? Their typical answer is “Boh Bian”. Boh bian is literally No Solution. But the real meaning is I surrender to the powers as I have to reluctantly accept all these policies as I fear them and do not believe… Read more »

Given AHTC and SKTC are now to pay cost to the defendants, these entities to which residents pay their S&C fees will now have to use these funds to make the payments. Would it not be reasonable to say that the people instigating both AHTC and SKTC to file the suits, to be also liable to fund the payment?

The suit was filed by the town council as an entity under the instruction of the independent panel, which was forced to be formed by the Ministry of National Development against the AHTC town councillors and FMSS staff.So in this case, the cost is taken from the town council funds to pay defendants of the suits filed by the town council.The suit alleged that the town councillors had acted in bad faith to approve the management contract to FMSS and the projects which was disproven by the court.Just the town council as an entity. The people has no claim over… Read more »

Yes, but WHO FORCED the AHTC town council to sue the defendants? THAT person or party is ultimately responsible for the town councils loss and SHOULD bear the costs.

As for the defendants, I think they should subtract their personal costs from the awarded damages and donate the remainder back to the town council.

Appears the Administration of justice is TECHNICALLY VISIBLE as corrupted – in people’s minds, one, why the PAP Administration’s $2.00 AIM Co deception was NOT ACCOUNTED in full to SG public, and, two, PAP TCs were NOT TAKEN to task for LOOSING RESDIENTS money to POOR investments.
Balls are squeaky clean.

Mai so happy yet, the Town council AHTC would have damages to be awarded to them later to the tune of MILLIONS and this Low, Sylvia and one ah Seng or is it ah Singh, would have to pay until pants drop or sued to pay up till pants drop or their pants would literally drop after hearing the amount these 3 clown need to cough out! This is the usual game PAP like to play with oppo fxxks. Give them some chicken wings and later ask these 3 clowns for 100 whole chickens back! Hmmm….sounds familiar trick or treat… Read more »

The MP payees should return the awards to AHTC as monies paid out to the payees are from my maintenance fund!

This is wrong and incorrect both in practice and in ethics. How can residents’ monies be used for paying court fines.

Maintenance fees and sinking funds are strictly for use in the maintenance of AHTC exterior facade of our homes.

The judges erred in such awards by not disclosing that maintenance funds not be used to pay court fees and fines.

Just in, among days, true colours of Sheegapore’s judiciary’s DARK BEHAVIOUR is demonstrated so clearly. Guilty parties at political high places are NOT ONLY NOT apprehended for CRIMES AGAINST people of SG Society, YET has the cheek to TURN AROUND and BITE, and potrayed as INNOCENT.

The laughable courts, are called ‘Courts’, courts of justice, to dispense justice? More like courts of balls, ball games played in courts.

What about the PAP Administration run TC investment of Millions of Dollars belonged to residents in FAILED DBS Mini bonds?

Again, no ONE WAS ACCOUNTABLE and CHARGED?

What about the $2.00 AIM Company set up, ran by PAP Administration linked people, to cheat Singapreans? No legal basis to charge the Political Culprits?

So who is bearing the cost of all these legal suits? Who actually initiated these proceedings?

Trending