Apex court upholds Jannie Chan's directorship

Her TYC Investment seat was automatically reinstated after bankruptcy set aside, it rules

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the reinstatement of prominent businesswoman Jannie Chan as a director of the family holding company she ran with her former husband.

The three-judge apex court agreed with an earlier High Court ruling that her directorship at TYC Investment, which holds shares in luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass, was automatically reinstated after her bankruptcy was set aside.

The original bankruptcy order is treated as not having been made when it is set aside on appeal, said the court.

During the hearing yesterday, Ms Chan insisted on addressing the judges, despite being told by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon that the court was not going to let her speak as she had not filed the court papers required by procedure.

He warned Ms Chan that he would instruct security to take her out if she did not obey the court. "There is a way we conduct ourselves in court," he told her sternly.

He had earlier told her to keep quiet when she cleared her throat loudly while Senior Counsel Edwin Tong was presenting arguments in TYC's appeal against her reinstatement. When the judges left the courtroom to deliberate, Ms Chan went up to Mr Tong several times and spoke to him tersely, alleging he had "misrepresented" her case.

"Don't expect me to sign your cheques," she said at one point.

After the court gave its decision, Ms Chan apologised to Chief Justice Menon.

TYC was set up in 1979 to hold shares in The Hour Glass and other family assets. Its co-founders, Ms Chan, 72, and Dr Henry Tay, 73, hold 44 per cent and 46 per cent of the voting rights respectively, and their three children share the remaining 10 per cent.

After they divorced in 2010, the couple agreed, among other things, that neither would sign a cheque on TYC's accounts unless the other had signed an approving voucher.

In September 2016, Ms Chan was made a bankrupt by a bank. She appealed against the bankruptcy order but subsequently reached a settlement with the bank. Her appeal was allowed and the bankruptcy order was set aside in December 2016.

TYC notified the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority that she had been disqualified as a director due to her bankruptcy. TYC filed a legal action, asking the court to allow another director to be appointed in light of the vacated directorship. Ms Chan in turn filed a counter-claim, asking the court to declare that she was still a director.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2018, with the headline 'Apex court upholds Jannie Chan's directorship'. Print Edition | Subscribe