BDG v BDH

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeAedit Abdullah JC
Judgment Date29 September 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] SGHC 211
Citation[2016] SGHC 211
Date29 September 2016
Subject MatterInjunction to restrain winding up application,Companies,Winding up
Defendant CounselNicholas Lazarus and Elizabeth Toh Guek Li (Justicius Law Corporation)
Plaintiff CounselJainil Bhandari, Aleksandar Anatoliev Georgiev, Raelene Su-Lin Pereira & Han JiaMin (Rajah & Tan Singapore LLP)
Published date04 October 2016
Hearing Date16 September 2016
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 633 of 2016
Aedit Abdullah JC: Introduction

The Plaintiff sought to restrain the presentation of a winding up application against it by the Defendant, arguing that there was a dispute between them that was governed by an arbitration clause. The case turns on the resolution of the conflict between the relevant standards for a stay in favour of arbitration on the one hand, which requires a dispute prima facie, and the standard required for a stay of winding up on the other, requiring a triable issue. I find that an injunction as applied for should be granted.

Background

The Plaintiff, [BDG], contracted with the Defendant, [BDH], for the supply of drilling units for fossil fuel production off Nigeria. There were two separate contracts, the [B] Contract, and the [C] Contract, named after the respective fossil fuel fields. The two contracts were in the same form, with payment milestones specified. The submission of documents was made a condition for payment.

The contracts included a tiered dispute resolution clause, Clause 28.1 which specifies that discussions are to be held between representatives, and eventually the top management, of each company:

28 DISPUTE RESOLUTION

28.1 Any dispute between the [Plaintiff] and the [Defendant] in connection with or arising out of the PURCHASE ORDER or the GOODS shall be resolved by means of the following procedure:

28.1.1. the dispute shall initially be referred to the [representatives of the Plaintiff and Defendant] who shall discuss the matter in dispute and make all reasonable efforts to reach an agreement;

28.1.2 if no agreement is reached under Clause 28.1.1 the dispute shall be referred to the two persons each nominated by the [Plaintiff and Defendant];

28.1.3 if no agreement is reached under Clause 28.1.2 the dispute shall be referred to the Managing Directors of the [Plaintiff and Defendant].

Only if the above dispute resolution mechanisms do not work out does arbitration come in:

28.2 If no agreement is reached under Clause 28.1.3 above, the parties shall refer the dispute to arbitration…

28.3 It shall be a condition precedent to the referral of a dispute to the Arbitration under Clause 283 that the party which intends to commence proceedings in relation to the dispute first uses its reasonable endeavours to follow and complete the procedures set out in Clauses 28.1 …

As things turned out, a number of invoices from the Defendant were not paid by the Plaintiff. The circumstances are in dispute: the Plaintiff claims there was a suspension of work agreed between the parties as well as that some of these invoices were not accompanied by the necessary documents. The Defendant contends that the money was due.

Discussions were held between the two sides. The Defendant says ultimately nothing was agreed. The Plaintiff contends that there was a settlement agreement. It is undisputed that two payments of US$300,000 were made by the Plaintiff: the Plaintiff says this shows that a settlement agreement was made; the Defendant says that the payments were accepted as part-payment of the claims it had made. Further, a third payment of US$300,000 was put by the Plaintiff into escrow. Arbitration notices were also issued by the Plaintiff. The Defendant however took the position that there was no dispute subject to the arbitration clause.

Rather, in April 2016, the Defendant, through its former solicitors, issued a statutory demand for US$8.9 million (the 1st Statutory Demand) as due under various invoices. While there was a change of solicitors representing the Defendant, the new solicitors (who are the present ones), maintained the 1st Statutory Demand and filed a winding up application against the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff in turn filed an application to restrain the commencement of winding up proceedings. Both applications were eventually withdrawn.

Then in June 2016, another statutory demand (the 2nd Statutory Demand) was served by the Defendant: this covered a similar set of invoices, though several were omitted. That led to the present application to restrain the commencement of winding up proceedings.

The Plaintiff’s Case

The Plaintiff argues that an injunction may be granted to restrain the commencement of winding up if the winding up application is not an appropriate means of enforcing a debt; one ground would be that there is a debt that is bona fide disputed. For this proposition, the Plaintiff cited various cases including Metalform Asia Pte Ltd v Holland Leedon Pte Ltd [2007] 2 SLR(R) 268 (“Metalform”) and Re Mechanised Construction and Lai Shit Har v Lau Yu Man [2008] 4 SLR(R) 348. The usual standard is the same as that required to defeat a summary judgment application, ie, triable issues must be raised: Mohd Zain bin Abdullah v Chimbusco International Petroleum (Singapore) Pte Ltd and another appeal [2014] 2 SLR 446 at [16].

However, where an arbitration agreement governs the dispute, the relevant standard is whether prima facie there is an arbitration clause and if so, the dispute is governed by that clause: Salford Estates (No 2) Ltd v Altomart Ltd (No 2) [2015] Ch 589 (“Salford Estates”); Eco Measure Market Exchange Ltd v Quantum Climate Services [2015] BCC 877. The position in England and...

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7 cases
  • VTB Bank (Public Joint Stock Co) v Anan Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 19 November 2018
    ...of Appeal decision of Salford Estates (No 2) Ltd v Altomart Ltd (No 2) [2015] Ch 589 (“Salford”) and the Singapore High Court decision of BDG v BDH [2016] 5 SLR 977 (“BDG”), which I will discuss in greater detail below. After hearing the arguments, Ang SJ dismissed the Defendant’s applicati......
  • BWF v BWG
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 March 2019
    ...there is a bona fide prima facie dispute that is subject to an arbitration agreement.31 This was the standard applied by the High Court in BDG v BDH [2016] 5 SLR 977 (“BDG”). BWG, on its part, contended that notwithstanding the arbitration clause, the correct standard is that of a triable i......
  • AnAn Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd v VTB Bank (Public Joint Stock Company)
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 7 April 2020
    ...by this court’s decision in Metalform, he would have been amenable to apply the standard adopted by Aedit Abdullah JC (as he then was) in BDG v BDH [2016] 5 SLR 977 (“ BDG ”). In BDG , Abdullah JC considered that where a company is seeking to stave off a winding-up application on the b......
  • PRPC UTILITIES AND FACILITIES SDN BHD [No. Pendaftaran: 201301028729 (1058559-W)] vs PBJV GROUP SDN BHD [No.Pendaftaran: 200001021929 (524536-A)]
    • Malaysia
    • High Court (Malaysia)
    • 1 December 2021
    ...what constitutes a bona fide disputed debt, the High Court in Awangsa (supra) referred to the Page 18 of 40 Singapore case of Bdg v. Bdh [2016] 5 SLR 977 which in turn referred to Salford Estates (supra) and held as "[15] In the case of Bdg v. Bdh [2016] 5 SLR 977, the plaintiff entered int......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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