Telemedia Pacific Group Ltd v Yuanta Asset Management International Ltd

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgePatricia Bergin IJ,Vivian Ramsey IJ
Judgment Date15 March 2018
Docket NumberSuit No 2 of 2015 (Summons No 3 of 2017),Suit No 2 of 2016(Summons No 5 of 2018)
Date15 March 2018

[2017] SGHC(I) 3

Singapore International Commercial Court

Patricia Bergin IJ

Suit No 2 of 2015 (Summons No 3 of 2017)

Telemedia Pacific Group Ltd and another
and
Yuanta Asset Management International Ltd and another

Paul Tan, Yam Wern-Jhien and Josephine Chee (Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP) for the plaintiffs;

Philip Ling and Kam Kai Qi (Wong Tan & Molly Lim LLC) (instructed) and Lim Joo Toon (Joon Toon LLC) for the defendants.

Huang Li v Hady Hartanto [2015] HKCFI 714 (refd)

Lee Sian Hee v Oh Kheng Soon [1991] 2 SLR(R) 869; [1992] 1 SLR 77 (folld)

Lian Soon Construction Pte Ltd v Guan Qian Realty Pte Ltd [1999] 1 SLR(R) 1053; [1999] 2 SLR 233 (folld)

Shen Ming Hong 7, The [2010] SGHC 269 (refd)

Strandore Invest A/S v Soh Kim Wat [2010] SGHC 174 (folld)

Telemedia Pacific Group v Yuanta Asset Management International Ltd [2016] 5 SLR 1, SICC (refd)

Telemedia Pacific Group v Yuanta Asset Management International Ltd [2017] 3 SLR 47, SICC (refd)

Viet Hai Petroleum Corp v Ng Jun Quan [2016] 3 SLR 887 (refd)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 2012 Rev Ed) s 151

Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (Cap 265, 2001 Rev Ed)

Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China) Order (S 93/1999)

Civil Procedure — Stay of proceedings — Stay of execution — Whether fact that plaintiff was not resident in Singapore weighed in favour of stay — Whether fact that plaintiff was implicated in past questionable transactions and in previous litigation weighed in favour of stay — Whether appeal would be rendered nugatory if stay was not granted

After the plaintiffs successfully sued the defendants for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties and conversion in earlier proceedings, the defendants filed an appeal and applied for a stay of execution of the judgment pending appeal.

The defendants contended that if the stay was not granted, there was a genuine risk that if they succeeded on appeal they would not be able to recover the judgment moneys from the plaintiffs. They emphasised that the plaintiffs were not residents of Singapore and claimed that the second plaintiff was implicated in past questionable transactions as well as in previous litigation. The plaintiffs contested the veracity of these claims and contended that the defendants' conduct was a further attempt to circumvent court orders. Prior to the hearing of the application, the plaintiffs had proposed to the defendants that such an order be made by consent to obviate the need for the hearing. However, the defendants did not accept such a proposal.

Held, dismissing the application:

(1) The court would not deprive a successful litigant of the fruits of the litigation to which the litigant was prima facie entitled, pending appeal. A stay would be granted if the evidence established that if the judgment moneys were paid, there was no reasonable probability of getting them back if the appeal succeeded (rendering the appeal nugatory): at [26].

(2) The plaintiffs' non-residence was not a special circumstance that warranted a stay. There was a reciprocal enforcement regime between Singapore and Hong Kong and the defendants could seek recovery of the moneys from the second plaintiff in Hong Kong, if necessary: at [33] and [34].

(3) There was a distinction between being trustworthy enough to comply with a court order and having the funds available to comply with one. The defendants had not called evidence to show that the plaintiffs were impecunious or would not be in a position to repay the moneys if ordered to do so: at [40].

(4) There was only suspicion that the plaintiffs might not comply with a court order requiring them to repay moneys if the defendants were successful on appeal. That suspicion was possibly tempered by the plaintiffs' willingness to consent to a conditional stay pursuant to which the moneys would be paid into court pending the determination of the appeal: at [43].

(5) On all the evidence called by the defendants and in all the circumstances of the case, including assumed reasonably arguable grounds of appeal, the defendants failed to establish that their appeal would be rendered nugatory if the stay was not granted: at [7], [27] to [31] and [44].

[Observation: If parties embraced the jurisdiction of an international court to determine their dispute, there should be little force in a claim that sought to rely upon the international status of one or other of the parties to claim that the court orders should not be enforced: at [32].]

13 March 2017

Patricia Bergin IJ:

Introduction

1 By Summons No 3 of 2017 filed on 4 January 2017 (“the Summons”), Yuanta Asset Management International Limited (“Yuanta”) and Yeh Mao-Yuan (“Mr Yeh”) (collectively, “the Defendants”), seek a stay of execution of parts of the Judgments dated 30 June 2016, Telemedia Pacific Group v Yuanta Asset Management International Ltd [2016] 5 SLR 1 (“the First Judgment”), and 7 December 2016, Telemedia Pacific Group v Yuanta Asset Management International Limited [2017] 3 SLR 47 (“the Second Judgment”) (collectively, “the Judgments”). The stay is sought until the Defendants' appeal from the Judgments in Civil Appeal No 189 of 2016 is determined.

2 The orders in respect of which the stay is sought are as follows:

1. That the Defendants are to pay S$1,848,723.75 into a joint trust account held by the solicitors for the respective parties pending the finalisation of the joint venture accounting exercise between the parties.

2. That the Defendants are to pay the Plaintiffs S$6,464,839.37.

3. That the Defendants are to pay 75% of the Plaintiffs' costs of the proceedings (excluding any costs incurred by the Plaintiffs in respect of the Portfolio Claim).

3 The application was heard on 7 March 2017. The Defendants were represented by Mr Philip Ling and Ms Kam Kai Qi from Wong Tan & Molly Lim LLC (instructed by Mr Lim Joo Toon from Joo Toon LLC) and the Plaintiffs were represented by Mr Paul Tan, Mr Yam Wern-Jhien and Ms Josephine Chee from Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.

4 At the conclusion of the hearing, I made an order dismissing the Summons. These are the reasons for that dismissal. In this judgment, I will also deal with the question of costs which was argued on 7 March 2017.

5 The Defendants relied upon Mr Yeh's affidavits dated 4 January 2017 and 14 February 2017. The Plaintiffs relied upon the affidavit of Hady Hartanto (“Mr Hartanto”) dated 2 February 2017. The parties relied upon their written submissions filed on 21 February 2017 (the Plaintiffs) and 23 February 2017 (the Defendants) and limited oral submissions at the hearing on 7 March 2017.

Parties' contentions

6 The Defendants contend that if the orders are not stayed, there is a genuine risk that if they succeed on appeal they would not be able to recover the moneys from the Plaintiffs. They emphasise that the Plaintiffs are not residents of Singapore and claim that Mr Hartanto is implicated in “past questionable transactions”. They also refer to previous litigation in which Mr Hartanto has been involved and claim that the Plaintiffs cannot be trusted to repay the moneys if the Defendants are successful on appeal. The Defendants also rely on the merits of their grounds of appeal in support of their application.

7 I intend in the circumstances to assume that the Defendants' grounds of appeal are reasonably arguable and to consider the other aspects of their application for a stay in this context. In any event, the fact that there are strong grounds for appeal is not, by itself, a special circumstance that warrants a stay.

8 As they did in the main case, the Plaintiffs complain about the veracity of Mr Yeh's claims and contend that the Defendants' conduct is a further attempt to circumvent the orders of the Court. While not accepting that there are grounds warranting the granting of a stay, the Plaintiffs contend that the concerns expressed by the Defendants in relation to the Plaintiffs' capacity to repay the judgment moneys if ordered to do so, could be addressed by an order that the judgment moneys be paid into Court pending the determination of the appeal. Prior to the hearing of the application, the Plaintiffs proposed to the Defendants that such an order be made by consent to obviate the need for the hearing. However, the Defendants did not accept such a proposal.

The evidence

9 In his first affidavit dated 4 January 2017, Mr Yeh makes five claims in support of the Defendants' contention that there is a genuine risk that if the Defendants succeed on appeal they would not be able to recover the moneys from the Plaintiffs. Those claims are (a) that the Plaintiffs are not resident in Singapore; (b) that Mr Hartanto has been implicated in past questionable transactions in Next Generation Satellite Communications Limited (“NexGen”); (c) that Mr Hartanto breached a contract with a potential investor for the sale of shares in NexGen which he did not own or have authority to sell; (d) that Mr Hartanto had been reprimanded by the Singapore Exchange (“SGX”) for his role in “round-tripping of money” in a listed company, Scorpio East Holdings Limited (“Scorpio East”); and (e) that Mr Hartanto made false statements in an affidavit sworn in the main proceedings concerning the purchase of Scorpio East shares.

10 In his affidavit dated 2 February 2017, Mr Hartanto recounts the history of the correspondence between the respective solicitors in relation to the Plaintiffs' proposal that the judgment moneys be paid into Court or into an escrow account pending the determination of the appeal. He claims that the Defendants' stay application is without merit and is brought in bad faith; and that the Defendants' appeal is unmeritorious. He also claims that if the Defendants are permitted to retain the judgment moneys, it is likely that those funds will be dissipated.

11 In his second affidavit dated 14 February 2017, Mr Yeh responds to Mr...

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