Sheila Kazzaz and another v Standard Chartered Bank and others

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtInternational Commercial Court (Singapore)
JudgeAnselmo Reyes IJ
Judgment Date31 August 2020
Neutral Citation[2020] SGHC(I) 19
Citation[2020] SGHC(I) 19
Published date25 September 2020
Defendant CounselTan Xeauwei, Melissa Mak, Daniel Seow and Marrissa Karuna (Allen & Gledhill LLP)
Plaintiff CounselChia Voon Jiet, Koh Choon Min, Sim Bing Wen and Grace Lim Rui Si (Drew & Napier LLC)
Subject MatterCosts,Civil Procedure
Docket NumberSuit No 4 of 2018
Date31 August 2020
Hearing Date18 February 2019,23 February 2019,22 February 2019,20 February 2019,22 April 2019,28 February 2019,19 February 2019,25 February 2019,24 February 2019,01 March 2019,29 March 2019,21 February 2019,26 February 2019,27 February 2019

[2020] SGHC(I) 19

Singapore International Commercial Court

Anselmo Reyes IJ

Suit No 4 of 2018

Sheila Kazzaz and another
and
Standard Chartered Bank and others

Chia Voon Jiet, Koh Choon Min, Sim Bing WenandGrace Lim Rui Si (Drew & Napier LLC) for the plaintiffs;

Tan Xeauwei, Melissa Mak, Daniel SeowandMarrissa Karuna (Allen & Gledhill LLP) for the defendants.

Legislation referred to

Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed) O 110 r 46(1)

Civil Procedure — Costs — Case transferred from High Court to Singapore International Commercial Court — Whether cost guidelines in Appendix G Supreme Court Practice Directions or O 110 r 46(1) Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed) applicable — Appendix G Supreme Court Practice Directions — Order 110 r 46(1) Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed)

Facts

The court had previously dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against the defendants in the substantive matter (see Sheila Kazzaz and another v Standard Chartered Bank and others[2020] 3 SLR 1) but deferred the determination on costs pending the appeal. Subsequently, the Court of Appeal dismissed the plaintiffs' appeal (see Sheila Kazzaz and another v Standard Chartered Bank[2020] SGCA(I) 3). Thereafter, the court restored the assessment of costs and directed that such costs be determined on the basis of the parties' written submissions. As the defendants had prevailed, they were entitled to costs, but the dispute arose as to quantum. The defendants claimed (a) legal fees of S$1.1m; and (b) disbursements of S$113,177.12, £178,672.23, 88,844.73 United Arab Emirates dirham (“AED”), and US$4,336.83. In support of their claim, the defendants relied on an indemnity clause (“Clause 14.1”) contained in the client agreements with the plaintiffs. Under Clause 14.1, the plaintiffs had agreed to compensate the defendants on a “full indemnity basis” for “all Losses which [the defendants] may suffer as a result of or in connection with the operation or provision of the Account(s), Facilities, Transactions and Services whether incurred directly or indirectly”.

On the other hand, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants were entitled to no more than legal fees of S$382,800 (or alternatively S$512,400 if costs were to be ordered on an indemnity basis) and disbursements of S$86,672.57, £90,538.02, AED88,844.73, and US$4,336.83. Among other things, the plaintiffs argued that: (a) Clause 14.1 did not cover the present situation where the defendants were sued in respect of circumstances leading to the taking up of banking services; and (b) Appendix G of the Supreme Court Practice Directions (“Appendix G”) should be accorded significant weight in the court's assessment of costs. When transferring the matter from the High Court to the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”), the registrar (“Registrar”) had directed that Appendix G would continue to be relevant to the assessment of costs.

Held, awarding costs of S$1,100,000 and disbursements of S$113,177.12, £178,672.23, AED88,844.73, and US$4,336.83 to the defendants:

(1) Clause 14.1 covered the situation where the defendants were sued in respect of circumstances leading up to the taking up of services. On its terms, Clause 14.1 did not distinguish between services rendered by the defendants before or after the plaintiffs entered into a particular transaction. It applied where the defendants had incurred legal expenses and disbursements as a result of defending themselves against the plaintiffs' wrongful allegations about the way in which the defendants provided their advice and services: at [6] and [7].

(2) With regard to the $1.1m claimed by the defendants, a departure from the S$512,400 posited by Appendix G was warranted, having regard to the full indemnity granted under Clause 14.1, the complexities of Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) law, and the fact that the plaintiffs' allegations spanned events and issues involving multiple jurisdictions. In addition, the plaintiffs maintained that the defendants were liable for fraudulent misrepresentation and exerting undue influence despite the court's earlier finding that there was no evidence to this end. Given that their reputations were at stake, it was unsurprising that the defendants vigorously defended themselves and thereby incurred much more in legal fees than the standard levels envisaged by Appendix G. Notwithstanding the Registrar's direction during the transfer of the action to the SICC that Appendix G would continue to be relevant to the assessment of costs, this was one situation where applying O 110 r 46(1) of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed) led to a significantly greater award of costs: at [8] to [12].

(3) In respect of disbursements, the defendants' photocopying and printing of 214,524 pages were not excessive given the number of defendants and lawyers involved. There was material requiring translation by the defendants from Arabic into English. The defendants' expert had to not only write a report but also review and comment on the plaintiffs' expert report. Taken in the round, the disbursements claimed were reasonable: at [13] to [16].

(4) The court was not inclined to deprive the defendants of some costs merely because they did not succeed on every sub-issue, since they prevailed in relation to every misrepresentation, breach of duty of care, and breach of DIFC regulatory law alleged by the plaintiffs. Determining the incidence of costs was not a mechanical exercise of adding up the arguments on which a party had succeeded and calculating the proportion that its successful...

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1 cases
  • Cbx v Cbz
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 8 October 2020
    ...[2019] 5 SLR 48 (distd) BYL v BYN [2020] 4 SLR 204 (folld) CBX v CBZ [2020] 5 SLR 184 (refd) Sheila Kazzaz v Standard Chartered Bank [2020] SGHC(I) 19 (refd) Legislation referred to Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed) O 110 r 46(1) (consd) Civil Procedure — Costs — Case transferred f......

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