Radakrishnan s/o Kannusammy Somalingam v Tan Hock Lay Robin and another
|20 July 2020
| SGDC 161
| SGDC 161
|District Court (Singapore)
|14 August 2020
|Originating Summons No 65 of 2020, Summons No 2213 of 2020
|Molly Lim SC, Lynn Cheng (Wong Tan & Molly Lim LLC) (instructed), Ponnampalam Sivakumar and Tan Ming Quan (BR Law Corporation)
|Tan Hock Lay Robin (Robin Tan & Co),Chang Man Ping and Cheronne Lim (WongPartnership LLP)
|Injunctions,Interlocutory injunction,Purposes for grant,Protection of contractual rights
|17 July 2020
This is an
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
Having considered parties’ submissions and affidavits of the plaintiff, I grant the interim injunction. My reasons are set out below.Background
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,
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
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
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:
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
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