On 4 December 2017, the lawyers of Mr Li Shengwu issued a statement stating that they will be applying to set aside the court order obtained by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to serve “papers” on their client out of the jurisdiction, in the United States.
Why were documents served on Mr Li Shengwu?
The serving of these documents relates to the committal proceedings for contempt of Court arising from Mr Li’s failure to remove his Facebook post of 15 July 2017 and to issue an apology.
Who or What is the AGC do?
The AGC is an organ of state led by the Attorney-General of Singapore. It plays a vital role in providing legal advice and assistance to the Government and protecting the interests of the state and of the people by prosecuting crimes. More significantly, it upholds the rule of law, ensuring accountability and transparency in the legal service and public administration.
Thus in this matter, as Li Shengwu published statements on Facebook may potentially cast doubt on Singapore’s Judiciary, it is for the AGC to litigate the issue and defend its reputation.
Why is this relevant to us?
If you were sued, the Plaintiff in the case would need to ensure that you have sight of the documents, such as the Writ of Summons and the Statement of Claim and ensure that the proper procedures have been followed. But some problems may arise if the Defendant is not in the same country as the Plaintiff or if you as the Defendant believe that the Plaintiff’s claim is baseless.
Thus at I.R.B. Law LLP, we believe that it is essential to know about the process of service of documents to foreign countries and setting aside an order.
What does Serving Documents mean?
Serving legal papers such as a writ or summons to a person gives notice to that person that he or she is being sued for the alleged wrongdoing and also servers to inform the person that legal proceedings have been commenced against him or her. Then the person is given the opportunity to respond to the claim which is to be heard in the court which has jurisdiction over the case.
What does Setting Aside mean?
Setting aside an order occurs when a Judge annuls, overturns or negates a Court order, judgment or direction by another Court. In other words, for example, when a criminal conviction is set aside, the person is taken to have never committed a crime and been convicted in the first place.
How do you Set Aside a Court Order?
Firstly, you will have to consider whether you have sufficient reasons (such as mistake, misconduct, misrepresentation etc.) to apply to set aside the court order.
Then you will need to gather the necessary evidence to support your case and to file an application. The Court will then issue a Notice of Hearing for the parties to attend a hearing of the application at a specific date and time.
It is important to note that if the setting aside is allowed, the Court will proceed to hear the claim and give further directions or instructions.
In Mr Li’s application to set aside the order would mean putting forward his own reasons to why the service of papers by the AGC may be defective or improper. If his application is successful, the contempt case against him will not be able to continue. The AGC will then have to appeal against that decision or re-apply to the Court following the proper procedural rules. If the setting aside application is dismissed, the default order will stand. In this case, Mr Li might need to return to Singapore to face contempt of court proceedings.
Is it important to have a legal paper personally served to you?
Yes. If the papers were never personally served to you, it might become a reason for which the judge sets aside the court order. This is because it is part of the due process of law. As mentioned previously, being served papers allows you to be notified of the lawsuit or legal proceeding filed against you and gives you the opportunity to appear in court to state your claim.
How do you serve Singapore court documents to foreign countries?
When a legal paper needs to be served on someone residing or working in foreign countries, leave must first be obtained by the Court in accordance with Order 11 of the Rules of Court. Service of documents can be carried out through diplomatic channels.
Certain documents such as the Request for Service of Documents out of Singapore and the Order of Court for Service of Documents out of Singapore will need to be filed in Court and will incur a fee. Service out of Singapore through diplomatic channels may take some time and parties using such service are required to keep the Registry updated on the progress of the case so that the Registry can keep relevant authorities informed as to whether service out of Singapore is still necessary. Another method would be to use private process servers, registered post and local agents to transmit and serve documents overseas.
How may we help?
At I.R.B Law LLP, we have a team of experienced lawyers who are able to help you with setting aside your court order and serving of legal documents outside of Singapore We firmly believe that everyone should be entitled to sound and clear legal advice and service.
Should you be in a position where you may need our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or call us at 6589 8913 so that we can advise you on your matter.