Case Update: The Interim Judicial Manager to Protect Assets in Jeopardy

Lee Shih and Huey Lynn write about the Singapore decision on the appointment of interim judicial managers.

The Singapore High Court in Re KS Energy Ltd and another matter [2020] SGHC 198 granted an order for the appointment of interim judicial managers (IJM) over two companies upon the application by a creditor.

This decision is useful in setting out the principles for the appointment of interim judicial managers. This decision is also persuasive for Malaysian law as Malaysia’s judicial management provisions are modelled after Singapore. Continue reading

Case Update: Singapore Court of Appeal Rules on the Riddick Undertaking for Disclosed Documents

Lee Shih and Nicole Phung write about a Singapore Court of Appeal case on the Riddick undertaking and on the proposed guidelines for the breadth of Anton Piller search orders.

The Singapore Court of Appeal in the recent case of Lim Suk Ling Priscilla and another v Amber Compounding Pharmacy Pte Ltd and another [2020] SGCA 76 dealt with the prospective and retrospective release of the Riddick undertaking for disclosed documents. The Courts will undertake a multifactorial balancing exercise.

The Riddick Undertaking

The Riddick undertaking draws its name from the English case of Riddick v Thames Board Mills [1977] QB 881. Where a party to litigation is ordered to produce documents, the discovering party is under an implied undertaking to not use the produced documents other than for pursuing the action. Therefore, the party who has been provided access to the documents cannot use the documents for any collateral or ulterior purpose.

The rationale for the Riddick undertaking is that public interest requires full and complete disclosure in the interest of justice. But, the production of documents by court order is an intrusion of privacy. This principle strikes a balance between these two interests. The court can release the Riddick undertaking if there are cogent and persuasive reasons. Continue reading

Company Law Case Update: Oppression Remedy in Quasi-Partnerships

Joyce Lim writes on a recent High Court decision on the oppression remedy in quasi-partnerships. Further, the decision confirms that oppression can arise from breaches of a shareholders’ agreement.

The High Court in the recent case of ISM Sendirian Berhad v Queensway Nominees (Asing) Sdn Bhd & Ors and other suits [2020] MLJU 388 dealt with an oppression claim by a minority shareholder in quasi-partnerships (also known as Ebrahimi-type companies).

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Case Update: Fraudulent Trading Rebooted

The High Court in the Sulaiman & Taye decision (see the grounds of judgment dated 8 July 2020 of Ong Chee Kwan JC) deals with very significant issues in relation to fraudulent trading. Fraudulent trading is where directors of a company have to bear personal liability for the debts of a company in winding up. This is because the directors carried on the business of the company with the intent to defraud its creditors. In particular, whether the delinquent directors bearing personal liability then has to pay directly to the aggrieved applicant or to pay into the wound up company’s assets for the general benefit of all the creditors. Continue reading

Case Update: Federal Court Decides Sums due to Management Corporation are Unsecured Debts

The Federal Court in its grounds of judgment dated 21 May 2020 Dubon Berhad (in liquidation) v Wisma Cosway Management Corporation held that fees due to a management corporation or a joint management body under the Strata Management Act is not a secured debt. Such fees are a pure unsecured debt within the insolvency regime. This will bring clarity for a liquidator of a company which is an owner of a strata property.

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Retrenchments in Malaysia — some recent cases

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on jobs around the world. Almost every country has experienced an economic downturn, and as businesses struggle to steady the ship and stay afloat, many employers have been doing their best to retain their employees where possible. It has been a very busy 2020 for employment lawyers and HR professionals.

Unfortunately, for employers in many industries, COVID-19 has negatively affected their revenues too significantly, and cutting jobs has become the only solution to keep the businesses going. This has also been the case in Malaysia, where the Movement Control Order crippled many businesses, and the government has been unable to provide meaningful assistance to employers. For example, the aid provided under the Prihatin wage subsidy program is very low and short-term compared to other countries, and comes with conditions attached that make it impractical for many employers.

As a result, there have already been many retrenchments carried out in Malaysia, with even more to come. Indicative of the times, in the past couple of months, we have suddenly seen a significant amount of traffic on an old article I published here in January 2016 — “What you need to know about the law on retrenchment of employees”.

But retrenchments can be tricky. Over the years I’ve seen many employers make mistakes that result in unfair dismissal claims, a messy and costly court process, and sometimes very big court awards to be paid to former employees. Often, these mistakes are made even by employers who have done their research on the law, and sometimes even by those who have obtained legal advice (which ultimately turned out to be incomplete or flawed).

Knowing how to properly carry out a retrenchment exercise — and knowing what practical mistakes and missteps to avoid — comes with experience. It also helps greatly to analyse how other businesses have implemented retrenchments (both properly and improperly), and so in this article I set out very brief summaries of a selection of retrenchment-related decisions by the Industrial Court in the past year.

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