Radakrishnan s/o Kannusammy Somalingam v Tan Hock Lay Robin and another

JudgeKevin Kwek
Judgment Date20 July 2020
Neutral Citation[2020] SGDC 161
Citation[2020] SGDC 161
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
Published date14 August 2020
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 65 of 2020, Summons No 2213 of 2020
Plaintiff CounselMolly Lim SC, Lynn Cheng (Wong Tan & Molly Lim LLC) (instructed), Ponnampalam Sivakumar and Tan Ming Quan (BR Law Corporation)
Defendant CounselTan Hock Lay Robin (Robin Tan & Co),Chang Man Ping and Cheronne Lim (WongPartnership LLP)
Subject MatterInjunctions,Interlocutory injunction,Purposes for grant,Protection of contractual rights
Hearing Date17 July 2020
District Judge Kevin Kwek:

This is an ex-parte interim injunction application made by the plaintiff to restrain the second defendant, Singapore Swimming Club (the “Club”) from convening a management committee (“MC”) meeting to decide whether to ratify or revoke a decision to suspend the plaintiff’s membership rights for one month; and from acting on a complaint made by the first defendant against the plaintiff pending the determination of the main action in Originating Summons No 65 of 2020 (“OSS 65”).

OSS 65 is currently scheduled to be heard on 14 August 2020. The MC meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, 21 July 2020.

I should highlight at the outset that this application was made on 15 July 2020 on an ex-parte basis, just six days before the scheduled MC meeting. While the plaintiff was directed on 16 July 2020 by the Duty Deputy Registrar to give the Club notice of the hearing on 17 July 2020, the Club did not have the opportunity to put forth its evidence by way of affidavits. In the circumstances, the hearing proceeded on an ex-parte with notice basis, with only the evidence of the plaintiff before the court.

Having considered parties’ submissions and affidavits of the plaintiff, I grant the interim injunction. My reasons are set out below.


The plaintiff is a member of the Club and was its past president from 1992 to 1998. The plaintiff is an advocate and solicitor. According to the plaintiff, he had made known his intention some time in 2019 to stand as a candidate for the post of president in the Club’s elections in 2020 (“Club Elections”).1 The plaintiff officially notified the MC of his intention to stand as a candidate in the Club Elections by way of a letter dated 30 March 2020.2

The first defendant is a member of the Club. The first defendant is an advocate and solicitor. On 3 March 2020, the first defendant made a written complaint to the Club’s general manager (“GM”) against the plaintiff for an alleged unauthorised circulation of certain documents purportedly made by the plaintiff.3 The contents of the documents are not material to the present application.

The written complaint led to an exchange of correspondence between the plaintiff’s solicitors and the Club’s GM.4

On 18 March 2020,5 the GM informed the plaintiff that that the former had concluded his investigations into the first defendant’s complaint. In his letter to the plaintiff, the GM expressed his view that the plaintiff had breached rule 13(b) of the Club Rules for the alleged unauthorised circulation of documents. The plaintiff was also informed that the GM’s decision was to therefore suspend the plaintiff’s club membership for one month pursuant to rule 13(c) of the Club Rules although this decision would not take effect until it was ratified by the MC under rule 13(d).

In the same letter, the plaintiff was informed to attend a MC meeting on 24 March 2020 to address the MC before a decision was made on whether to ratify or revoke the GM’s decision. The plaintiff was also informed that if he did not to attend the meeting, the MC would make a decision in his absence.6

The plaintiff objected to the GM’s decision to suspend his membership for one month. As mentioned above, letters were sent by the plaintiff’s solicitors to the Club prior to (and after) the 24 March 2020 meeting stating, inter alia, that rule 13(b) had not been made out and that the complaint was made in bad faith.7 As the first defendant is (or was) also a key administration committee member of the Club who deals with the employment issues of the Club, the plaintiff asserted that the GM’s investigations were therefore “not appropriate” given the GM’s “allegiance” to the first defendant.8

The plaintiff did not attend the 24 March 2020 MC meeting and sought an update of the MC’s decision by way of letters to the Club on 26 March 20209 and 31 March 2020.10

On 6 April 2020, the Club informed the plaintiff that the MC had decided to adjourn the 24 March 2020 meeting to a later date to give the plaintiff an opportunity to be heard.11 The subsequent meeting date was not fixed as the Club had to shut down most of its facilities and operations as it was announced by the government that a circuit breaker period was to commence on 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 to reduce the local transmission of the coronavirus disease. The circuit breaker period was subsequently extended to 1 June 2020.

On 17 June 2020, the plaintiff filed OSS 65 to challenge the validity of the suspension and the MC’s right or authority to deal with the suspension. OSS 65 was served on the Club on 18 June 2020. In gist, the plaintiff’s case in OSS 65 is that the GM has no jurisdiction to deal with the first defendant’s complaint under the Club Rules and his purported suspension of the plaintiff was void and that the MC cannot the ratify the said decision.12 The substantive hearing of OSS 65 is fixed for hearing on 14 August 2020.

After OSS 65 was commenced, in a letter dated 9 July 2020, the plaintiff was informed by the Club that the MC would decide on whether to ratify or revoke the GM’s decision to suspend the plaintiff’s membership at a meeting on 21 July 2020.13

Against this backdrop, the plaintiff filed the present application on 15 July 2020, seeking to restrain the Club from convening the MC meeting and acting on the GM’s decision to suspend the plaintiff’s membership until the determination of OSS 65. On 16 July 2020, the Duty Deputy Registrar acceded to the plaintiff’s request to fix the matter for an urgent hearing on 17 July 2020. At that point, the plaintiff had not complied with paragraph 29 of the State Courts Practice Directions and the Duty Registrar directed the plaintiff to notify the defendants of the hearing by no later than 10 a.m. on 17 July 2020.

Submissions were made by counsel for the plaintiff and the Club at the hearing on 17 July 2020. The first defendant conducted a watching brief.

Issues to be determined

It is trite that the law applicable on whether an interim injunction should be granted is set out in American Cyanamid Co v Ethicon Ltd [1975] AC 396, namely, whether there is a serious question to be tried; the adequacy of damages as a remedy; and whether the balance of convenience lies in favour of granting or refusing the interim injunction sought.

Having considered the evidence and counsel’s submissions, I grant the interim injunction. I set out my reasons below.

Issue 1: Serious question to be tried

As part of the enquiry on whether there is a serious question to be tried, this court is not making a determination, at this interlocutory stage, on the plaintiff’s rights or whether there has been a violation of it. This is particularly relevant in this case, given that this application was made on an ex-parte basis and the defendants have not had the opportunity to put forth their evidence.

The bar on the enquiry on whether there is a serious question to be tried is a low one. The plaintiff need only show that his case is not frivolous and vexatious, such that there is no prospect of succeeding and is bound to fail. At this interlocutory stage, it is not the court’s duty to decide difficult questions of law which call for detailed argument and mature considerations: Jardine Lloyd Thompson Pte Ltd v Howden Insurance Brokers (S) Pte Ltd and others [2015] 5 SLR 258 (“Jardine”) at [6].

Having considered parties’ submissions, I am satisfied that there is a serious question to be tried in the main action in OSS 65 on the true and proper construction of rules 13 and 14 of the Club Rules. The relevant excerpts of rules 13 and 14 are set out below:

Rule 13: Conduct of members

Members and Nominees shall observe and shall procure that their children and guests observe the Rules and Bye-Laws of the Club. Members and Nominees shall conduct and shall procure that their children and guests conduct themselves with decorum and propriety at all times within the Club. The Management is empowered to refuse entry/service or to require the member/Nominee/guest/child of a member or Nominee to leave the Club or any part thereof if the member/Nominee/guest/child of a member or Nominee shall fail to conduct himself with proper decorum or comply with the rules of the particular outlet or the Club. Any circulation of letters, notes or documentation whether in hard copy or in electronic medium which pertain to matters relating to, having to do with or otherwise concerning the Club, its members, Nominees or the conduct of its members or Nominees (“the circulation”) by members or Nominees without the prior written approval of the Management Committee or the General Manager may be subject to disciplinary action. Any unauthorised or unapproved circulation, whether signed or unsigned by a member or a Nominee, shall be dealt with strictly by the Management Committee, including the confiscation of all such copies, and members or Nominees who have taken part in the production, issuance, publication and distribution of the circulation may be subject to disciplinary action under Rule 13, Provided Always that this rule shall not be used to prevent any member from circulating a call for an Extra Ordinary General Meeting. Any complaint against the conduct of any member, Nominee or child of any member or Nominee of the Club shall be in writing and lodged with the General Manager, or in his absence the Duty Manager. The General Manager shall then proceed with one of the following courses of action within thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of the complaint, or such period extended by the Management Committee: disregard the complaint and treat the matter closed; give a written warning to the member; suspend the member for a period not exceeding one (1) month; fine the member a sum not exceeding $1,000.00; refer the matter to the...

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