Would a technical compliance of a court order suffice to discharge one’s obligations under the order?
We represented the plaintiff In 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐡𝐚𝐢 𝐀𝐟𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐁𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐂𝐨 𝐋𝐭𝐝 𝐯 𝐓𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐰𝐞𝐞 𝐌𝐞𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫  𝐒𝐆𝐇𝐂 𝟏𝟒𝟗, where the Singapore High Court answered the question in the negative. In the case, the plaintiff and the defendants were in the food and beverage business. We successfully assisted the plaintiff to obtain an order of contempt against the defendants for the latter’s failure to comply with the substance / spirit of several court orders. The court orders required, among other things, the defendants to cease using the plaintiff’s drink recipes and confidential information, such as product standards and design, branding, store get-up and design, staff training, and store operations.
In an attempt to comply with the court orders, the defendants made minor changes to their drink recipes but the main ingredients of the beverages were substantially the same as the plaintiff’s drink recipes. In finding that the defendants failed to comply with the court orders, the Singapore High Court noted that it would undermine “the spirit of the [court orders] to allow the defendants to use the substance of the recipes but make only minor changes to ‘technically’ comply with the [court orders]”.
This case shows that the Singapore courts would adopt a substance over form approach when determining whether a party has complied with court orders. You can read the case at https://www.elitigation.sg/gd/s/2021_SGHC_149.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, please feel free to contact our team at Coleman Street Chambers LLC to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options.