Inno Pacific Holdings Ltd v Koh Kay Yew

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeWarren Khoo L H J
Judgment Date20 November 1996
Neutral Citation[1996] SGHC 271
Citation[1996] SGHC 271
Published date30 January 2013
Plaintiff CounselMohan Pillay with Tay Peng Cheng
Defendant CounselG Raman


Grounds of Decision

1. The plaintiffs (Inno Pacific), who were the employers of the defendant, applied by this originating summons for a declaration that Singapore was the natural and proper forum for the resolution of a dispute between them and the defendant (Mr Koh) arising from an employment contract, and for an injunction restraining Mr Koh from carrying on an action pending in a Californian court (the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Mateo) arising from that dispute. I heard the summons on 18 September, and granted the application in terms. I now give my reasons.

2. By the employment contract, dated 3 January 1990, Mr Koh undertook to provide business development services for Inno Pacific in the United States and Canada. The contract provided for the payment of a salary of $10,000 per month (Singapore currency), reviewable annually at the discretion of Inno Pacific, and bonuses. It also provided for the payment of Central Provident Fund contributions in accordance with prevailing CPF regulations.

3. The employment contract provided that it would not be terminated so long as Mr Koh continued to be in the employment of Shakey's Inc. It further provided that should Inno Pacific terminate Mr Koh's appointment other than for reason of wilful neglect of duty, malfeasance or misfeasance on his part, where no further compensation was payable, Inno Pacific would pay him an amount equivalent to 24 months' basic salary.

4. Mr Koh alleges in the Californian suit, which was commenced on or about 19 September 1995, that in breach of these provisions of the contract Inno Pacific terminated the employment contract during the subsistence of his employment with Shakey's Inc. He also alleges that Inno Pacific were in breach of these provisions of the contract by failing to pay the 24 months' basic salary upon such termination. Mr Koh therefore claims damages, interest and costs.

5. On or about 5 January 1996, Inno Pacific applied to the Californian court to stay or dismiss the action on the ground that it was not the convenient forum to try the dispute, and that the convenient forum was Singapore. Mr Koh resisted the motion on the ground, principally, that he and his family have been residents of California since 1985, and that although not a citizen of the United States, he owns property and pays taxes in California.

6. In December 1995, as Mr Koh stated in these Californian motion proceedings, he was offered an employment in Singapore, and he moved here and took up the employment, as he had been unable to find a job as an executive in California. He was not certain how long he would be in Singapore. He said that he intended to return to California in the future as his home and family were in California.

7. The employment contract, according to him, came about in this way. He had been living in California for four years when he was contacted by phone by Gopinath Pillay, the then executive director of Inno Pacific in 1989. He was subsequently interviewed by Mr Pillay in California. The employment contract, in...

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1 cases
  • Koh Kay Yew v Inno-Pacific Holdings Ltd
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 2 June 1997
    ...CJ 1 This was an appeal arising out of the decision of Warren L H Khoo J in OS No 638/96 [see Koh Kay Yew v Inno-Pacific Holdings Ltd [1996] SGHC 271]. Essentially, it involved the question of whether the learned Judge in the court below was correct when he made an order granting an injunct......

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