Singapore has become a financial and business center in Asia, which means that a number of foreign companies and individuals have assets there. Until now, the question of whether a Singapore court has the power when a dispute is being litigated in a foreign court to grant a Mareva injunction, a pre-action seizure of assets, had not been clearly answered. The court in China Medical Technologies v. Wu Xiaodong (2018) SHGC 178 has now clarified the question. The answer is a resounding “yes”.
The court held that section 4 (10) of the Civil Law Act gave Singapore courts the power to grant a Mareva injunction in aid of foreign proceedings. The elements to support that application are:
- An accrued cause of action against the defendant that is justiciable in a Singapore court. This element is satisfied if, in theory, a Singapore court could try the substantive dispute and grant the relief sought. The fact that a Singapore court declines to do so in favor of foreign proceedings does not make the cause non-justiciable.
- The Singapore court must have in personam jurisdiction over the defendant in respect of the Singapore action.
Future cases will certainly elaborate on the elements, but litigants can take comfort that Singapore is recognizing creditors’ rights to seize and preserve assets to satisfy wrongdoings that are being pursued in foreign proceedings.