Can a claimant obtain an injunction without an actual or threatened cause of action? The Singapore High Court says no.

What is a freestanding injunction? A recent judgment of the Singapore General Division of the High Court held that there is no such thing.

In the case of Gazelle Ventures Pte Ltd v Lim Yong Sim and others (“Gazelle Ventures”), Justice Philip Jeyaretnam disagreed with dicta in two recent judgments of the Singapore High Court to hold that the Singapore Courts would not exercise its jurisdiction to issue injunctions to granting injunctive relief unrelated to substantive legal rights.

In Gazelle Ventures, the claimant primarily sought a “precautionary injunction” to restrain the defendants from taking steps to pass shareholder resolutions which had been requisitioned by the majority shareholders of the Company, No Signboard Holdings Ltd. The resolutions sought to replace the incumbent directors of the Company.

The court dismissed the application on the grounds that the claimant would have no cause of action against the Company even if the requisitioned resolutions were passed. The claimant failed to demonstrate that irreparable harm was likely to result if the Court did not grant the precautionary injunction.

As an alternative argument, the claimant sought a “freestanding” injunction to restrain the defendants from taking steps to pass the requisitioned resolutions in the event that the facts did not disclose an actual or threatened cause of action. The claimant sought to argue that the Singapore High Court’s jurisdiction was broad enough for it to grant a “freestanding” injunction to prevent injustice, in the exercise of the court’s equitable jurisdiction.

Justice Jeyeretnam held that, while broad, the Singapore High Court would not grant an injunction that was not based on a recognised cause of action, and that its power to grant injunctions should only be exercised “incidental to and dependent on the enforcement of a substantive legal right”.

The full citation of the case is: Gazelle Ventures Pte Ltd v Lim Yong Sim and others [2023] SGHC 328

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