Judge chides contractor for repeated appeals

Mr Ho Soo Fong tried three times to get the Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court decision in a construction dispute.
Mr Ho Soo Fong tried three times to get the Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court decision in a construction dispute.

Apex court referring matter to AG for possible action against vexatious legal proceedings

The Court of Appeal minced no words in telling a contractor yesterday that it was fed up with his repeated attempts to have the court relook his case despite having exhausted his avenues of appeal.

"You lose a case, you move on, you cannot keep hounding the court to no end," Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin told 59-year-old Ho Soo Fong.

Mr Ho was trying, for the third time, to ask the three-judge court to change the decision of the High Court in a construction dispute that was against his favour.

At the same hearing, Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang likened him to a "broken tape recorder" while Justice Quentin Loh said Mr Ho has had his day in court and was "abusing the process" when he kept coming back.

Justice Chao told Mr Ho the court would be referring the matter to the Attorney-General (AG) to ask him to consider invoking a provision that deals with vexatious litigants. Under this provision, if the AG is satisfied that someone persistently and without reason launches vexatious legal proceedings, he can apply for a court order to restrain the person from taking any more legal action without the court's permission.

Approached for comment after the hearing, Mr Ho insisted: "The law allows me to apply for variation of court orders." He pointed out that his court filings were approved and he had paid the filing fees. He did not accept that he was vexatious, adding that his filings should be rejected if he was.

Mr Ho was representing his company, Ho Pak Kim Realty, in a near decade-long court fight with developer Revitech over a condominium project in Kovan that started in 2006.

In 2010, the High Court allowed Ho Pak Kim to claim for outstanding progress payments but dismissed its claims for under-valuation of the works and wrongful termination of the contract.

The court also allowed the counterclaim by Revitech for delay in completion and defective works.

Mr Ho appealed but his bid was dismissed.

That would ordinarily have been the end of it but Mr Ho filed three applications to the Court of Appeal to change the judgment.

Justice Chao told Mr Ho: "You cannot keep on coming back, the matter has to come to a close. You have to accept the decision."

He added that Mr Ho may feel aggrieved but, in every civil litigation, there will always be someone unhappy with the court's decision.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'Judge chides contractor for repeated appeals'. Print Edition | Subscribe