Case Studies

Reported Cases In Which Lawyers
From Our Firm Acted As Counsels

NETTO & MAGIN LLC is a law firm, practising in Singapore.
We represent individuals and business clients in a variety of areas, including:

Chan Hiang Leng Colin & Ors v Minister for Information and Arts [1996] 1 SLR 609.

This case is a very important decision of Singapore’s Court of Appeal. The case concerned the Constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association. The case concerned the challenge of the Minster’s decision/power to restrict the use of religious materials of the Jehovah Witnesses. The ban on publication of certain materials by their publisher was challenged by the Plaintiffs. The crucial legal issues concerned:

  1. Can the Minister arbitrarily pass subordinate legislation restricting access to religious materials?
  2. Can the Minister’s powers/decisions be challenged on the grounds that they are ultra vires the constitution for being irrational and unreasonable in law?
  3. Did the Minister act beyond his powers and contravene the Constitution of Singapore and should his decision be set aside by the Court?

Chan Hiang Leng Colin & Ors v Public Prosecutor (1994) 3 SLR 662

After a trial in the State Courts, the Plaintiffs were convicted of possession of publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses (“Watchtower”) which was banned by order of minister. Plaintiffs’ appeal against the conviction was dismissed by the Chief Justice. This was a case that raised many questions on constitutional law, including the issue of whether there can be a defence raised in a criminal trial on the non-constitutionality of the law under which the person was charged. Whether an appellate court can conduct judicial review of a minister’s discretion in a criminal appeal.

Citations of more Constitutional & Adminstrative Law cases

  • Chan Hiang Leng Colin & Ors v Public Prosecutor(1995) 1 SLR 687;
  • Chan Hiang Leng Colin & Ors v Minister for Information and Arts(1995) 3 SLR 644;
  • Kok Hoong Tan Dennis & Ors v Public Prosecutor[1997] 1 SLR 123

The case of Chan Hiang Leng Colin & Ors v Minister for Information and Arts, cited under constitutional & adminstrative law above, started as a criminal case in the District Court. The trial lasted for about 10 days at the end of which the Colin Chan and others were convicted. They appealed.

RE How William Glen [1994] 3 SLR 474

This case involved ad hoc admission of a prominent Queen’s Counsel from Canada to argue a case on freedom of religion. Whether admission of QCs under Section 21 of the Legal Profession Act was limited to QCs from the United Kingdom and whether such admissions were restricted to banking and commercial matters. Another consideration was whether the appeal, to be argued by Mr. How, involved complex issues of law and fact. The case also considered methods of statutory interpretation. Mr. How was admitted and this case has become one of the authorities on admission of QCs.

Quah Poh Hoe Peter v Probo Pacific Leasing Pte Ltd [1993] 1 SLR 14

This was an important commercial case decided by the Singapore Court of Appeal involving the law of contract, guarantee & suretyship and misrepresentation. The case involved, inter alia, the following aspects of the law:

  1. Whether a guarantor is liable on a guarantee when there is no primary liability?
  2. Was there misrepresentation and if so by whom?
  3. The duty of banking institutions to make the necessary searches to ascertain the existence of the debtor.
  4. What amounts to an estoppel by convention and in what circumstances they are applicable?

Citations of more Contract & Commercial Law cases

  • Track-Truss Technologies Pte Ltd v Uti Worldwide (Singapore) Pte Ltd[2004] SGDC 151;
  • Empresswood Enterprise Pte Ltd v Kao Shin Ping[2005] SGDC 120;
  • C & P Holidngs Pte Ltd v Witco Industries Pte Ltd [2006] SGHC 8;
  • Karuppanngounder Parmasivam t/a Sri Maharaja Industries v Kearns Pte Ltd (2003) SGHC 267

Joseph Mathew & Anor v Singh Chiranjeev & Anor [2010] 1 SLR 338

A decision of the Court of Appeal; Vendors who were overseas did not sign an option to sell that was sent to them by courier. The main issue was whether there was a binding contract to sell a house based on exchange of emails coupled with the fact that the option money was banked into the Vendors’ account by the property agent of the Vendors. Whether S6 (d) of the Civil Law Act was satisfied and whether the contract was enforceable on grounds of part performance.

Citations of more Property & Trust Law cases

  • See Bee Hoon v Quah Poh Hoe[1989] 3 MLJ 65;
  • Gold Pine Land Development Pte Ltd V Lee Poi Sam[1993] 2 SLR 366;
  • Scan Electronics v (S) Pte Ltd v Syed Ali Redha Alsagoff & Others [1997] 3 SLR 13;
  • Top Ten Entertainment Pte Ltd v Lucky Red Investment Pte Ltd[2004] 2 SLR 199;
  • Yun Ai Chin & Anor v Tai Joon Lan[1992] SGHC  273

Re G (guardianship of an Infant) [2004] 1 SLR 229

This important High Court decision is hailed as a “landmark in Singapore family law” (See Debbie SL Ong – Insisting on a Custody Order? A Year After Re G – Singapore Law Society Law Gazette, Jan 2005 issue). The decision sets out for the first time the principle of “joint responsibility” as being in the best interest of the child and sets to discourage “sole custody” orders. It sets out the following important principles in child custody cases:

  • That the best interest of the child is of paramount importance in the eyes of the law.
  • That the best interest is in general served in making an order which requires “joint responsibility” of the parents instead of a sole custody order.
  • That in appropriate cases the court should consider making “no custody orders” to preserve the best interest of the child and to promote “joint responsibility”

Note: Re G  was approved and affirmed by the Singapore Court of Appeal in CX v CY (minor: custody and access) [ 2005] 3 SLR 690 – The Court of Appeal affirmed that the best interest of the child is best served with “joint responsibility” and the courts should grant “joint custody” orders and sole custody orders should only be made in “exceptional cases”.

Citations of more Family Law cases

  • TE v TF [2007] SGDC 100;
  • QA V QB [2006] SGDC 178;
  • Cheong Tack Wai v Wan Sook Yin [2003] SGHC29;
  • Lim Ling Ling Jessie v Cheong Mun Choy[2003] SGDC 190.

Public Prosecutor v Ng Ai Tiong [2001] 1 SLR 454

This important criminal case sets out the essential elements required in an offence of instigation of another to give false evidence in judicial proceedings. The High Court laid down the principle that there was no need for the “instigator” to have told the person instigated to commit the offence. It was held to be sufficient under the Penal Code that the “instigator” intended to use the information obtained from the person instigated in judicial proceedings.

Citations of more criminal cases

  • Public Prosecutor v Seah Soon Keong[1993] 3 SLR 442;
  • Phua Mong Seng @ Pan Mao Sheng Richard v Public Prosecutor[2001] SGDC 382;
  • Public Prosecutor v Tan How Kiang[2005] SGDC 151;
  • Public Prosecutor v Mukhantan S/o Perumal [2005] SGDC 94;
  • Public Prosecutor v Magenderan S/o Marimuthu[2005] SGDC 61;
  • Public Prosecutor v R Sekhar [2003] SGMC 4.

The law on Succession & Wills is well settled. Therefore, it is rare to find a case that sets a precedent or reinforces one in this area of law. Such a case involving counsels from our firm came up before the High Court.

Tan Pwee Eng v Tan Pwee Hwa [2011] 1 SLR 113

The important legal issue in this appeal was whether a nuncupative or o ral will is valid under the Wills Act (Cap 352, 1996 Rev Ed). On 16 July 2009 the deceased gave instructions for a will. An associate of a company engaged to draw up wills, visited the deceased, and took instructions on the will to be drawn up. The associate made notes of the deceased’s instructions and returned to his office and prepared a draft will. However the draft will was not executed.

The High Court held that the draft will did not come within the exception of a nuncupative will, and therefore could not be a valid will under the Wills Act.

The law in this area well settled. Moreover, most cases are settled either through court mediation or by the initiative of counsels of the parties. In industrial accident cases, where the injury is severe, the compensation offered under the Work Injury Compensation Act (Cap. 354) may be insufficient. In such instances, if the matter does not get settled, the victim has to rely on Common Law and resort to court action. Such a case involved Counsels from our firm.

Chua Ah Beng v C & P Holdings Pte Ltd [2001] 3 SLR 106

This High Court case involved a workman’s claim for damages for serious personal injuries suffered as the result of an industrial accident in the course of employment. The legal issues involved, among others, were:

  • What is the scope of an employer’s duty of care to his employees under the common law and under the Factory Act?
  • When is there a breach of the duty of care?

Does an employer owe a duty of care to an experienced workman who carries out his duty negligently?

Purwadi v Ung Hooi Leng [2003] 4 SLR 229

This High Court case dealt with the important principles involved in an application to set aside a judgment obtained in default of appearance. The important issues raised in this case (which went on appeal to the Singapore Court of Appeal) are as follows:

  1. What are the principles in setting aside a judgment obtained in default of appearance?
  2. When will a default judgment against a foreigner and non-resident inSingaporebe set aside and on what grounds?
  3. What are the requirements for actual service on a foreigner of a Writ of Summons in and outside Singapore?

Citations of more cases involving Civil Procedure

  • Banner Investment Pte Ltd v Hoe Seng Metal Fabrication & Engineering Pte Ltd[1997] 1 SLR 461;
  • Lim Meng Chai v Heng Chok Keng [2001] SGHC 33;
  • Tan Soo Giem v Yeo Ching Chua [2004] 1 SLR 408.