Dominic Chan Wai Kit
I am a Singapore litigation lawyer and a Director at Characterist LLC.
See my professional profile and contact details at www.characterist.com
A part of my professional profile is also set out below.
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
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 as a Vice-President 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.
Education / Qualifications
- 2015 – M.A., Theology, Augustine Institute, summa cum laude
- 2006 – Advocate & Solicitor, Singapore
- 2005 – LLB (Hons), National University of Singapore
- Litigation and Dispute Resolution
What Clients Say about Dominic
- “[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
- “[We] appreciate your outstanding service and professionalism as our legal representative. 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. Your patience and clarity in explaining your thoughts on how to appeal against the adverse judgment by the State Court gave us the assurance that we had put our case in capable hands. We took courage and confidence from your conviction and zeal as you put forth our case in the High Court. Our vindication is a testimonial of your capabilities, experience and dedication to do the utmost for your clients.”– Ng Boo Han and Audrey Koo (successful Appellants)
- “Mr Dominic Chan is very hardworking professional lawyer. He would analyse the facts critically and present all possible options available. He would explain patiently his views and share his opinion throughout the development of the case. 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 provided very good service. He guided me through every step of my case, and explained everything to me. He was persuasive in Court and handled my case very skillfully. He was also humble and kind …” – Jeremy Chang
- “Dominic is a very professional lawyer and advocate with good knowledge and initiative. He believed in me, walked me through the entire proceedings 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
- “I will not hesitate to recommend [Dominic] to all my friends who need legal advice. I am very pleased with his professional advice and his friendly services…” – D.P.
Recent or Notable cases as Lead Counsel include:-
- Chan Lung Kien v Chan Shwe Ching  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  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  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  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.
- Solvadis Commodity Chemicals GmbH v Affert Resources Pte Ltd  1 SLR 174;  SGHC 217 (High Court): Successfully obtained a worldwide Mareva Injunction (for US$5.76 million) in aid of foreign arbitration proceedings. The Defendant’s application to discharge the Mareva Injunction 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 (Cap 143A, 2002 Rev Ed) was applied to grant a worldwide Mareva injunction in aid of foreign arbitration proceedings.
- Ng Boo Han & Koo Oi Lian Audrey-Ann v Teo Boon Hiang Edward  SGHC 267 (High Court): Successfully acted for the Appellants in an appeal to the High Court against the decision of a District Judge who had substantially dismissed their renovation defects claim against the Respondent. This is an important decision which lays down the principles for construing the extent and limitation of a “free-hand rights” clause which appears to grant a contractor extremely wide discretion in a building and construction contract. The High Court held that notwithstanding such a clause, items which were in breach of building regulations, were flawed on a functional level or which were a result of poor workmanship rather than a conscious aesthetic decision would clearly constitute defects which should have been rectified.
- 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 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”). The Court of Appeal held that the AG could not appeal as of right, but only with leave of Court. Having failed to seek leave, the appeal was struck out, and the matter was remitted to the High Court Judge to decide whether leave to appeal should be given.
- Boey Chun Hian (by his guardian and next friend, Boey Ghim Huat) v Singapore Sports Council (Neo Meng Yong, third party)  SGHCR 15 (High Court Assistant Registrar): Acted for the father of the victim in a near-drowning case against the Singapore Sports Council (“SSC”) in a High Court Suit for damages arising from the alleged breach of duty on the part of the SSC and their lifeguards. 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).
- Ling Mang Khong Stanley v Teo Chee Siong and others (Yeo Boon Hwa, third party)  SGHC 58 (High Court): Successfully acted 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. The totality of the circumstances suggested that the third party proceedings were brought for the purpose of dissuading the key witness from testifying for the plaintiff, and were an abuse of process (other party appealed to the Court of Appeal, but the matter was settled amicably).
- MC Suit No. 23543/2011/M; RA No. 219/2012/R (9 April 2013) (State Courts): Successfully acted for an insurer to obtain an Order of Court (on appeal to the District Judge in chambers) that the insurer may be joined as Defendants and be entitled, despite having repudiated liability against their insured, to raise all defences and objections including but not limited to the issue of motor insurance fraud, as well as to set aside the default interlocutory judgments obtained against the formed insured. This novel decision challenges the commonly held view or assumption that an insurer who repudiates liability cannot dispute liability and is only limited to challenging the quantum of damages.
Dominic’s experience (other than the cases mentioned above) includes:
International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration
- Acting as lead counsel for the buyer in an SIAC arbitration involving the US$16 million purchase of farming land overseas with allegedly defective title, and a counterclaim for substantial loss of profits.
- 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  1 SLR(R) 1119;  SGHC 6 (High Court);  4 SLR(R) 565;  SGCA 43 (Court of Appeal);
- Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and Others  3 SLR(R) 198;  SGHC 47 (High Court);  1 SLR(R) 508;  SGCA 44 (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.
- Advised and acted for one of the largest general trading companies in Japan, who were guarantors of bank loans in excess of US$26 million to an Indonesian company, in relation to the recovery from the Indonesian company of monies paid under the guarantee upon the default of the loans.
Commercial Litigation (Singapore)
Company, Contract, Banking and Securities, Insolvency, Fraud
- 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  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  4 SLR 221;  SGHC 156 (High Court): Acted 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
- Chang Mei Wah Selena and Others v Wiener Robert Lorenz and Others and Other Matters  4 SLR(R) 385;  SGHC 97 (High Court); Kok Chong Weng and others v Wiener Robert Lorenz and others (Ankerite Pte Ltd, intervener)  2 SLR(R) 709;  SGCA 7 (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)  1 SLR(R) 172;  SGHC 167 (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)  1 SLR(R) 213;  SGHC 174 (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 for the owners of a HDB flat in a High Court Suit to recovery possession of the flat from the defendants. This matter dealt with the issues of whether the Housing and Development Act prohibited the defendants from holding an interest in more than one HDB flat, and whether it prevented any interest in land to arise in favour of the ineligible persons who relied on the doctrine of proprietary estoppel.
- Successfully acted for the purchasers of a HDB flat in a High Court Suit and obtained final judgment in default of an unless order against the seller who refused to complete the sale of the flat.
- The Teneriffe Development Pte Ltd v Alain Mahendran Arul and another  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.
- Acted 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 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. Successfully resisted a striking out of the particulars of the defence of vulgar abuse.
Administrative and Public Law
- Acted for Faith Community Baptist Church (“FCBC”) and successfully obtained leave 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”).
- The Law Society of Singapore v Nor-ain Bte Abu Bakar and Others  SGDSC 9 (Disciplinary Committee); Law Society of Singapore v Nor’ain bte Abu Bakar and Others  SGHC 169;  1 SLR(R) 753 (Court of 3 Judges): 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
- 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.
- Successfully acted for the plaintiff in a personal injury claim and obtained damages for a subsequent injury on the basis that it was caused by and/or materially contributed to by the original injury, notwithstanding neutral medical evidence.
- Acted for various accused persons charged with offences relating to the Misuse of Drugs Act (trafficking, possession and consumption), illegal moneylending, rioting, unlawful assembly, cheating, theft, voluntarily causing hurt, rash and public nuisance acts, as well as breach of probation orders.
- Successfully acted for a listed company to obtain an Order of Court from the High Court approving and confirming the company’s special resolution to reduce its share capital by S$15.7 million for return to its shareholders.
- Successfully acted for a local company to obtain an Order of Court from the High Court declaring that the issuance of certain shares by means of a directors’ resolution constituted the informal and unanimous consent and approval of all shareholders, and was valid.
- Advised a foreign listed company on a corporate restructuring exercise, including reviewing, and recommending the most suitable transfer mechanism(s) for, the company’s contracts through novation, assignment, as well as a Court Transfer Scheme under foreign law, and other transfer mechanism(s).
Publications / Books / Articles
- “What is Right and What is a Right?: The Claim to Same-Sex Marriage, the Politicization of Rights and the Morality of Law”  24 Sing LR 93-137
- “Oral Sex – A Case of Criminality or Morality?”, Singapore Law Gazette, September 2004
- Dominic Chan, “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  SGHC 267”, Singapore Law Blog (29 January 2015) (http://www.singaporelawblog.sg/blog/article/81)
Memberships / Associations / Volunteer Work
- Member, Law Society of Singapore
- Member, Singapore Academy of Law
- Associate Mediator, Singapore Mediation Centre
- Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS), volunteer lawyer
- Vice-President, Catholic Lawyers’ Guild
- Member, Inquiry Panel of the Law Society
To Sue or Not to Sue: Demystifying Litigation in Singapore @ www.singaporelitigationlawyer.com © Dominic Chan, a Singapore litigation lawyer. All rights reserved.