“The good lawyer is like a sower. He believes in your cause with so much conviction and conveys that belief so compellingly that the tribunal and even opposing counsel begin to share that belief. This shared belief is the seed which, under the right circumstances, would spring up to the fruit of a favorable outcome or settlement.”

Dominic Chan Wai Kit

Director

Dominic has a unique ability to combine conviction and clarity to be an extremely effective litigation lawyer in the field of litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution. With more than a decade of experience, he has developed a broad-based practice in commercial litigation in Singapore as well as international commercial litigation and arbitration. He was with the Commercial Litigation department of Rajah & Tann LLP, where he had spent six years working with and assisting experienced counsel including Senior Counsel, before joining the Characterist team in 2011. He was included in Singapore Business Review’s “Singapore’s 40 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under in 2015“.

Dominic appears regularly as lead counsel in the High Court, and he has successfully argued a number of cases and appeals both at the High Court and at the Court of Appeal involving novel issues. His core belief is that the law cannot remain stagnant, but rather, it should develop or change in order to achieve truth and justice. His other core belief is that disputes, where it is in the best interests of his clients, should be resolved at the earliest possible stage, through the use of mediation or other dispute resolution methods.

He has been described by clients as “very sharp”, “knowledgeable”, with the ability to “analyse the facts critically and present all possible options available”, and to “anticipate the most likely outcome on critical and specific issues.” He has also been described by clients as “meticulous” and dedicated, possessing “conviction” and “clarity”, and being “persuasive in Court”.

Dominic is an Associate Mediator with the Singapore Mediation Centre. He is also a volunteer lawyer with the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS). Dominic is currently serving on the Council of the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild, and is also a member of the Inquiry Panel of the Law Society.

Outside of work, Dominic is married, has two beautiful young children whom he is enamored with, and enjoys spending time with his family. He is active in Church, and plays the acoustic guitar, percussions, and is also a worship leader and speaker. While working full time and raising his young family, Dominic pursued further studies, and received his Master of Arts degree in Theology from the Augustine Institute in December 2015, graduating summa cum laude.

Recent Cases

  • Stephanie Tang Swan Leen and ors v Tan Su San (the personal representative of the deceased Tan Seng Huat) [2018] SGDC 218 (District Court): Acted as lead counsel for the Plaintiffs and successfully established liability against the Defendant driver who suffered a stroke before colliding into the Plaintiffs. The Court adopted a 2015 English Court of Appeal’s objective test requiring “total loss of control”. This is the first Singapore decision on the applicable legal standard to establish a defence of automatism under tort law.
  • Chan Lung Kien v Chan Shwe Ching [2018] SGCA 24 (Court of Appeal): Acted as lead counsel for the Appellant. This decision considered how 2 previous Court of Appeal decisions were to be read (Sivakolunthu and Diaz), and clarified the common law position on severance by unilateral declaration, as well as how the statutory mode of severance is to be applied or implemented.
  • Solvadis Commodity Chemicals Gmbh v Affert Resources Pte Ltd [2018] SGHC 210 (High Court). Acted as lead counsel for the independent creditor. This is the first reported decision in Singapore whereby the Court approved a liquidator’s assignment of the causes of action (and not merely the fruits of the causes of action) of a company undergoing liquidation to a third party litigation funder. The Court accepted (at [56]) the independent creditor’s submission that a counterclaim is merely a procedure to allow an action by way of cross-demand to be brought in the same proceedings, and therefore, the assignment will not expose the company to counterclaims.
  • Chan Lung Kien v Chan Shwe Ching [2017] SGHC 136 (High Court): Acted as lead counsel for the Plaintiff and obtained a court order to set aside a previous decision of another High Court judge in Chan Shwe Ching v Leong Lai Yee [2015] 5 SLR 295 (which had previously departed from Malayan Banking), and in doing so, the Court affirmed the (almost 2-decades old) decision in Malayan Banking as good law. This is an important decision which clarifies that a judgment cannot be enforced by way of a WSS on jointly held property, and it also clarifies when (and on whose application) a Court can set aside its own ex parte decision.
  • Grande Corp Pte Ltd v Cubix International Pte Ltd [2018] SGHC 13 (High Court): Acted as lead counsel for the Plaintiff and successfully obtained a court order to strike out the defences of the 3rd and 4th Defendants on the basis that they had committed intentional, contumelious and inexcusable breaches of an Unless Order, as well as inexcusable breaches of their discovery obligations. Judgment was entered for the Plaintiff against them, with damages to be assessed, as well as costs. As striking out is only given in exceptional circumstances where the breach is inexcusable, this is a rare decision.
  • iHub Solutions Pte Ltd v Freight Links Express Logisticentre Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 06 (High Court): Acted as lead counsel for the Plaintiff company (tenant). The Court held that the Defendant landlord (a wholly owned subsidiary of a listed company) had breached an implied term of expeditious renewal and an implied term of quiet enjoyment, by inter alia committing various acts of hindrances against the tenant to pressurise the tenant to agree to a higher rate for the renewal of the commercial tenancy.
  • Solvadis Commodity Chemicals Gmbh v Affert Resources Pte Ltd in HC/CWU 17/2017 (High Court): Acted as lead counsel for the Plaintiff, an independent substantial creditor, and successfully obtained a court order to convert a creditors’ voluntary winding up into a court-ordered winding up. The Court held that there was a need for an independent inquiry of the Defendant company (which had uncollected receivables of around US$31 million), and substituted the provisional liquidators / liquidators in the creditors’ voluntary winding up (without having to make any finding on their conduct) with the Plaintiff’s nominated liquidators, so that the inquiry will also be seen to be independent.

International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

  • Solvadis Commodity Chemicals GmbH v Affert Resources Pte Ltd [2013] SGHC 217; [2014] 1 SLR 174 (High Court): Successfully obtained, as lead counsel, a worldwide Mareva Injunction in aid of foreign arbitration proceedings. The Defendant’s discharge application was successfully resisted before the High Court and the Court of Appeal. This appears to be the first reported decision in Singapore where Section 12A of the International Arbitration Act was applied to grant a worldwide Mareva injunction in aid of foreign arbitration proceedings.
  • Acting as lead counsel for a large German company to enforce an ICC arbitration award for over US$7 million in Singapore.
  • Acting as lead counsel for the claimant in an SIAC arbitration for the recovery of monies due under an unauthorized settlement. English law applies.
  • Acted as lead counsel in proceedings relating to the enforcement of an LCIA arbitration award for around €100 million.
  • Acted as lead counsel for a Malaysian company in an SIAC arbitration involving claims of overpayment under a long term distribution agreement.
  • Represented a divorced widow and certain beneficiaries in a dispute against the executrix of the estate of her late husband involving allegations of breach of trust and the division and tracing of assets across numerous jurisdictions and assets valued in the region of more than US$50 million. Successfully obtained a cross-Mareva Injunction against the executrix. This case, which also dealt substantially with Indonesian law, raised several novel and complex issues of conflict of laws and has spawned various decisions which contain important pronouncements in the area of conflict of laws.
    • Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and Others [2007] 1 SLR(R) 1119 (High Court); [2007] 4 SLR(R) 565 (Court of Appeal);
    • Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and Others [2008] 3 SLR(R) 198 (High Court); [2009] 1 SLR(R) 508 (Court of Appeal).
  • Advised a large Indian conglomerate on potential grounds to set aside an SIAC award which involved the sale and purchase of shares for a total consideration of over US$1 billion.
  • Advised a large foreign bank in relation to the enforcement and recognition of a foreign non-monetary judgment for approximately US$9.2 million, including the foreign limitation period and its extension, multiplicity of proceedings, appropriate forum, and res judicata.
  • Advised a listed company in relation to the recovery of trade receivables of more than US$11 million against various parties located in several jurisdictions based on fraud, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty and/or negligence.
  • Advised and acted for various parties affected by the sudden collapse and corporate insolvency of one of the world’s largest traders of bunker oil, OW Bunker.

Commercial Litigation (Singapore)

Company, Contract, Banking and Securities, Insolvency, Fraud

  • Ling Mang Khong Stanley v Teo Chee Siong and others (Yeo Boon Hwa, third party) [2013] SGHC 58 (High Court): Successfully acted as lead counsel for the key witness in a High Court Suit and struck out third party proceedings brought by the defendants against the key witness while the Suit was still ongoing.
  • Acting as lead counsel for a major creditor to recover millions of dollars invested by the creditor in an S$60 million Ponzi scheme which had involved over 60 investors.
  • Acted as lead counsel for a formerly SGX-listed Chinese company in an application to the High Court for pre-action discovery in support of a potential claim against auditors for alleged negligence in failing to detect financial fraud in overseas subsidiaries of that company.
  • Acted as lead counsel for a company in a High Court Suit against its former director and an assignee to set aside a self-dealing or unauthorized transaction.
  • Acting as lead counsel for joint venture partners in a High Court Suit against the other joint venture partners and other parties in a claim involving allegations of fraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary and directors’ duties, breach of trust, dishonest assistance, and the lifting of the corporate veil.
  • Acted for an investment bank in a High Court Suit against a former customer to recover outstanding amounts in excess of S$22 million due under the customer’s trading accounts. The Suit dealt with issues of the duty of care when force-selling shares held under the trading accounts, as well as market manipulation.
  • Sin Yong Contractor Pte Ltd (in liquidation) v United Engineers (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2008] SGHC 43 (High Court): Defended the subsidiary of a listed company in a High Court claim brought by its former sub-contractors (in liquidation) to seek payment for work done in a series of sub-contracts, which gave rise to a High Court decision which clarified the effect of illegality on contracts.
  • Tan Hup Yuan Patrick v The Griffin Coal Mining Co Pty Ltd (administrators appointed) and others [2014] 4 SLR 221 (High Court): Acted as lead counsel for a judgment debtor in an appeal to a High Court Judge in chambers to set aside a statutory demand for the sum of AUD3 million.
  • Acted for an investor of valuable art pieces against a local art gallery / dealer in a trust claim in the High Court for the sale proceeds of these art pieces. Successfully obtained a Mareva Injunction against the art gallery / dealer.

Construction and Property Law

  • Ng Boo Han & Koo Oi Lian Audrey-Ann v Teo Boon Hiang Edward [2014] SGHC 267 (High Court): Successfully acted as lead counsel for the Appellants in an appeal to the High Court against the decision of the judge below who had substantially dismissed their renovation defects claim against the Respondent. This decision lays down the principles for construing the extent and limitation of a “free-hand rights” clause in a building and construction contract.
  • Chang Mei Wah Selena and Others v Wiener Robert Lorenz and Others and Other Matters [2008] 4 SLR(R) 385 (High Court); Kok Chong Weng and others v Wiener Robert Lorenz and others (Ankerite Pte Ltd, intervener) [2009] 2 SLR(R) 709 (Court of Appeal): Successfully acted for the purchasers in a dispute arising from their S$550 million en-bloc acquisition of Gillman Heights, which involved the determination of the novel question whether former HUDC Estates were intended to be covered by the en-bloc legislation regime.
  • Successfully acted for certain members of the original sale committee in their appeal against the decision of the Strata Title Board disallowing the S$500 million en-bloc sale of Horizon Towers.
    • Siow Doreen and Others v Lo Pui Sang and Others (Horizon Partners Pte Ltd, first intervener, and Reghenzani Claude Augustus, second intervener) [2008] 1 SLR(R) 172 (High Court);
    • Siow Doreen and Others v Lo Pui Sang and others (Horizon Partners Pte Ltd, first intervener, and Reghenzani Claude Augustus and others, second interveners) [2008] 1 SLR(R) 213 (High Court).
  • Successfully acted for the majority sellers in the en-bloc sale dispute in relation to Dragon View Park.
  • Acted for the main contractor and several sub-contractors to defend a building defects claim in the High Court by the MCST of a condominium.
  • Advised and acted for a Christian Church, and successfully resisted an application by the landlord to strike out the Church’s defence on the basis that the tenancy agreement was entered into by the Christian Church as an unincorporated association.
  • Successfully acted as lead counsel for the owners of a HDB flat in a High Court Suit to recover possession of the flat from the Defendants.
  • The Teneriffe Development Pte Ltd v Alain Mahendran Arul and another [2009] SGDC 107 (District Court): Successfully acted for the developers of a condominium to recover outstanding purchase monies which were withheld by certain purchasers on the basis of alleged defects to their unit.

Defamation

  • Acted as lead counsel for a former executive against a large national bank in relation to alleged defamatory statements made by the bank’s representatives to third parties.
  • Acted as lead counsel for a local company to defend a libel claim in the High Court by a competitor company in relation to certain allegedly defamatory publicity material.
  • Acted for a former Chief Financial Officer to defend a libel claim by her former employers in relation to messages allegedly sent on the internet via MSN.

Administrative and Public Law

  • Attorney General v Faith Community Baptist Church (CA88/2014; Summons 3016/2014) (Court of Appeal): Successfully acted as lead counsel for Faith Community Baptist Church (“FCBC”) in striking out the Attorney-General’s appeal (for which leave of Court was not sought) against the decision of a High Court judge who granted leave to FCBC to commence judicial review against the decision of the Acting Minister for Manpower (who had decided that FCBC had dismissed their former employee without “sufficient cause”).
  • Law Society of Singapore v Nor-ain Bte Abu Bakar and Others [2007] SGDSC 9; [2009] 1 SLR(R) 753: Assisted in the prosecution, on behalf of the Law Society of Singapore against certain lawyers who had fraudulently caused the Supreme Court to wrongfully pay out about S$4.3 million in respect of the administration and distribution of a Muslim estate which was embroiled in a series of competing claims.
  • Acted as lead counsel for a TCM practitioner in an inquiry hearing before the investigation committee.

Insurance, Personal Injury and Criminal Law

  • Boey Chun Hian (by his guardian and next friend, Boey Ghim Huat) v Singapore Sports Council (Neo Meng Yong, third party) [2013] SGHCR 15 (High Court): Acted for the father of the victim in a near-drowning case against the Singapore Sports Council (“SSC”) and their lifeguards in a High Court Suit. Successfully obtained, as lead counsel, a Court Order for the production of the Committee of Inquiry Report (“COI Report”) on the incident. This is the first reported decision in Singapore where the dominant purpose test was applied to determine (and limit) the scope of legal advice privilege (which was raised to resist production).
  • Advised and acted as lead counsel for an insurance company on substantive and procedural matters relating to widespread motor insurance fraud, including obtaining novel Court Order(s) to join the insurers as defendants, to set aside default judgments against the former insured, and to raise fraud as a defence (despite the insurers having repudiated liability), as well as to adjourn suspected fraudulent cases sine die pending the completion of police investigations.
  • Acted for various accused persons charged with offences relating to the Misuse of Drugs Act (trafficking, possession and consumption), illegal money lending, rioting, unlawful assembly, cheating, theft, voluntarily causing hurt, rash and public nuisance acts, as well as breach of probation orders.

Publications / Books

  • “What is Right and What is a Right?: The Claim to Same-Sex Marriage, the Politicization of Rights and the Morality of Law” (2004) 24 Sing LR 93-137
  • “Oral Sex – A Case of Criminality or Morality?”, Singapore Law Gazette (September 2004)
  • “Extent and Limitation of a ‘Free-Hand Rights’ Clause in Building and Construction Contracts where there are Defects: Ng Boo Han & Koo Oi Lian Audrey-Ann v Teo Boon Hiang Edward [2014] SGHC 267” Singapore Law Blog (29 January 2015), online: http://www.singaporelawblog.sg/blog/article/8

Blog

Client Testimonials

In our business, compliance, regulations and trust are paramount. With Characterist LLC, we have found a perfect partner to strengthen our fundamental values. Our experience with the professional team at Characterist LLC is more than a Client-Vendor relationship. The team, especially Daniel Goh, Adrian Wee, Bernard Tan and Dominic Chan, have been excellent. We always feel extremely comfortable to approach them in any situation without hesitation. They will asses every situation painstakingly, over and above their professional capacity. Our problem is their problem! We used to think of legal matters as a costly expense. But with Characterist LLC, their undivided attention, dedication and professionalism put you at complete ease. Probably the most assured feeling I get as CEO of my firm is that whenever we face a difficult situation, my staff's response instead of being stressed out is the quiet confidence - "we will speak to Characterist". I am confident that Characterist LLC will continue to be our legal advisers and valued partner for a long time!

Tay Huai Eng, CEO of IPP Financial Advisers Pte Ltd

Dominic and his team went above and beyond and exceeded all of my expectations in every way. Dealing internationally, he made a positive impact on my case as the knowledge he used along with the professionalism was instrumental. Being on different international time zone he worked on hours that were not expected and always did so with positivity and service. He uses common sense as well as legal knowledge equally and his work was very thorough in everything he did. He treated our case as if it was his own with passion and conviction and approaches the toughest problems with only solutions. I am very grateful that I found Dominic and the Characterist firm and could not recommend anyone as highly as I do with him.

Benjamin M. Sturner, Founder & CEO, Leverage Agency

Despite taking over the case from our previous lawyers in short notice of just two days to our [deadline] for our appeal, you were able to grasp the difficulties and intricacies we faced… We took courage and confidence from your conviction and zeal as you put forth our case in the High Court… We felt that [Dominic] put his whole heart and soul in representing us in our litigation. That inspired hope for us in what seemed like an unsurmountable obstacle… Our vindication is a testimonial of your capabilities, experience and dedication to do the utmost for your clients.

Ng Boo Han and Audrey Koo

[Dominic] would analyse the facts critically and present all possible options available… He would anticipate the most likely outcome on critical and specific issues. He is very resourceful, knowledgeable and meticulous in presenting his case. Most of all, he is very sharp. I would not hesitate to recommend him for any legal proceeding for the future.

Boey Ghim Huat

Dominic is a very professional lawyer and advocate with good knowledge and initiative. He believed in me...and went all out for me without giving up. I really appreciate the tremendous hard work and unceasing effort he put into my case, which eventually paid off with an excellent result. Thank you.

Jeremiah Tay

Dominic...was persuasive in Court and handled my case very skillfully. He was also humble and kind…

Jeremy Chang

[Dominic is] uncompromising in wanting only the truth so that the Court could make a fair judgement… Singapore needs more lawyers like you to safeguard the integrity of its core institutions… The end result (judgement) has borne the fruits of the root of truth. David has prevailed over Goliath.

Koh San Joo, Managing Director of iHub Solutions Pte Ltd