Case Update: China Medical Technologies, Inc (in liquidation) v Wu Xiaodong [2018] SGHC 178 – Mareva Injunction in aid of foreign proceedings granted

Significance: Singapore High Court held that the Court is empowered under s 4(10) of the Civil Law Act (“CLA“) to grant a Mareva injunction (injunction to freeze assets) in aid of foreign court proceedings, subject to certain prerequisites. Notably, prior to this, there are 2 conflicting High Court decisions, and a Court of Appeal decision which did not definitively decide, on this issue. The High Court granted such a Mareva injunction in aid of Hong Kong court proceedings on the facts.

Court can grant Mareva injunction in aid of foreign court proceedings

[43]-[44]: The court is empowered under s 4(10) of the CLA to grant a Mareva injunction in aid of foreign court proceedings, subject to the prerequisites set out in Multi-Code Electronics Industries (M) Bhd and another v Toh Chun Toh Gordon and others [2009] 1 SLR(R) 1000 (“Multi-Code“) (at [116]):

(a) The plaintiff must have a reasonable accrued cause of action against the defendant that is recognised or justiciable in a Singapore court.

(b) The defendant must be subject to the in personam jurisdiction of the Singapore court.

(c) There must be assets within the territorial jurisdiction of Singapore which could be the subject of a Mareva injunction.

(d) Substantive proceedings must be brought in Singapore against the defendant, although those proceedings might be stayed by the Singapore court in favour of proceedings elsewhere.

A factor to be taken into consideration is whether the foreign court proceedings are capable of giving rise to a judgment which may be enforced in Singapore.

[45]: If the foreign judgment is not capable of being enforced in Singapore, it is likely that the interim Mareva relief (granted by the Singapore court) would not be able to facilitate the process of enforcement or execution (against the assets frozen) in satisfaction of the foreign court judgment, given that the judgment would not be enforceable here. In such a case, it would not be in the interest of justice, or “just or convenient”, to grant such relief in the first place.

[30]: a claim is justiciable if it is one for a substantive relief which the court has jurisdiction to grant and is a claim that can be tried by that court. That the court (seized of jurisdiction and able to try the claim) subsequently declines to do so in favour of proceedings elsewhere, does not make the cause of action non-justiciable in that court.

[34]: It is irrelevant who applies for the stay of the Singapore proceedings.

On the facts, the Court found that there was a good arguable case on the merits and a real risk of asset dissipation to frustrate the enforcement of an anticipated judgment. The Court thus granted the Mareva Injunction.

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