Case Summaries

Beyonics Asia Pacific Limited and others v Goh Chan Peng and another (Case Summary)

30 September 2020

Case summary

SIC/S 10/2018 (SIC/SUM 56/2020)

Beyonics Asia Pacific Limited and others v Goh Chan Peng and another [2020] SGHC(I) 20

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Decision of the Singapore International Commercial Court (delivered by Simon Thorley IJ):

Outcome: SICC grants plaintiffs leave to appeal against decision on costs for the trial in so far as it is necessary

Pertinent and significant points of the judgment

  • Where there is a substantive appeal and a notice of appeal is filed before a costs order is made in respect of the trial costs, if the appellant wishes only to challenge the costs order should the appeal succeed in part, no separate notice of appeal is required

Background

1. In an earlier judgment, the court found in favour of the defendants and struck out the plaintiffs’ claims. It also held that if those claims had not been struck out, the plaintiffs’ claims would have been successful only in part. The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal against that decision. The parties were unable to agree on the appropriate order for the costs of the trial and the court ordered the plaintiffs to pay part of the costs of the trial.

2. The plaintiffs indicated that in the event their appeal succeeded, wholly or in part, they intended to challenge the order for costs of the trial but did not intend to do so if the appeal was dismissed. They submitted that in those circumstances, leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was not required as the Court of Appeal would have the power to make such order as to costs as it sees fit after its decision in the appeal. The defendants took the position that where an order for costs was made in a separate order from that on the substantive judgment which was on appeal, leave to appeal was required. The plaintiffs therefore applied for leave to appeal against the order on costs and, since the application was made out of time, an extension of time in which to file the notice of appeal.

The court’s decision

3. The Court of Appeal has control over its own proceedings and, once it has reached a conclusion different to that of the trial judge, it has the power to do that which is right in the light of its decision so far as costs are concerned wherever those costs have been incurred (at [18]).

4. Where there is a substantive appeal and a notice of appeal is filed before a costs order is made in respect of the trial costs, if the appellant wishes only to challenge the costs order should the appeal succeed in part, no separate notice of appeal is required. If the Court of Appeal is entitled and empowered to deal with the costs of the proceedings below, it would follow that an express request that the court exercise that power is an unnecessary requirement, but appellants would be well advised as a matter of caution to seek to amend any substantive notice of appeal until the Court of Appeal clarifies that this is unnecessary (at [25] to [27]).

5. The plaintiffs would be left in a somewhat invidious position if the Court of Appeal were to consider that the law mandated the filing of a separate notice of appeal for which leave has been given. They should not be left in the position where a successful appeal might result in the Court of Appeal holding that it does not have the power to alter the costs award in the court below even if it felt this to be just owing to a failure in serving the necessary documents. The court therefore granted the plaintiffs leave to appeal against the judgment on costs in so far as this was necessary (at [28] to [30]).

 This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s grounds of decision. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s grounds of decision.