On 20 August, the High Court ruled to partially allow the amendments to the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council’s Statement of Claim (SOC) in their case against Workers’ Party (WP) then-Aljunied GRC Members of Parliament (MPs) Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim, Low Thia Khiang, and appointed town councillors Chua Zhi Hon and Kenneth Foo and three others.
The application to amend its SOC came seven months after the Court delivered its judgement on the case back in October 2019.
In essence, the Court has allowed for the amendments made relating to allegations against Mr Singh and Ms Lim, though it also clarified that it found no breach of duties in relation to those new allegations which were allowed. The allegations are that Mr Singh and Ms Lim breached their equitable duty of care and skill by causing AHTC to award the 1st EMSU (Essential Maintenance Service Unit) Contract without calling for a tender.
In the judgement, Justice Kannan Ramesh noted that this amendment related to issues that were already before the court, meaning that the original judgement would not need to be amended.
As for the allegations against Mr Low, Mr Chua, and Mr Foo, the Court did not allow new claims to be made against them.
These claims are twofold. First, AHTC alleged that the three men breached their equitable duty of care and skill in awarding the 1st EMSU contract, and 1st and 2nd MA contract without calling tender.
The amendment, Justice Ramesh says, introduces a new cause of action in AHTC’s suit, noting that “such claims were never originally brought against the 3rd to 5th defendants (Mr Low, Mr Chua, and Mr Foo) in Suit 668 (AHTC’s suit).” In fact, the original claim was made against Mr Singh and Ms Lim only.
Next, the Court also ruled the same way for the amendment which claimed that the three men breached their equitable duty of care and skill in relation to the Payment System as it also introduces a new cause of action.
Justice Ramesh said, “It is clear what has not been pleaded in Suit 668 is that the 3rd to 5th defendants had “approved” and/or “authorised” the Payment System and the payments that were made thereunder. The allegations in this regard are levelled against the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th defendants only.”
“There is no allegation that the 3rd to the 5th defendants were involved in setting up the Payment System and processing payments thereunder,” he added.
In his judgement, Justice Ramesh also repeatedly highlighted the fact that AHTC’s case is separate from the one brought against the same defendants by the Pasir-Ris Punggol Town Council (AHTC), despite the fact that they were heard by the Court together.
He stressed, “I reiterate that PRPTC’s claim is framed wider and is against all the defendants. Again, AHTC must have known this; yet, they failed to bring a timeous application to make the necessary amendments. AHTC has also not furnished any explanation for failing to do so.”
He explained that since AHTC’s and PRPTC’s cases were not consolidated, and the fact that the former’s case different from the latter’s, allowing the amendments will also require the original judgement to be amended in order to address these new claims made.