The Substantial Court docket in Syed Ibrahim & Co v Trans Fame Offshore Sdn Bhd  MLJU 1380 (grounds of judgment dated 16 June 2022) involved the Court docket granting a next judicial administration purchase. In outcome, this permitted for the corporation to be below judicial management even earlier the initial 12-month time period of the initially judicial management order.
Summary of the Decision and Importance
Grounds by: Nadzarin bin Wok Nordin J
The Courtroom granted a judicial administration purchase dated 11 December 2020 around the distressed corporation, Trans Fame Offshore. With the extension to the judicial administration order, the eventual prolonged judicial administration purchase would expire on 9 December 2021.
The collectors of Trans Fame Offshore then voted and permitted the judicial manager’s statement of proposal. The repayment to the creditors was to be designed in three tranches. All through the term of the judicial management, the judicial supervisor only managed to pay back out the initially tranche.
A creditor of Trans Fame Offshore applied to put Trans Fame Offshore back again into judicial administration. With the expiry of the 1st judicial administration purchase soon after 12 months, this would in effect allow for the firm to be in judicial administration longer than the 12 months.
The Judge held that there is very little within the Corporations Act 2016 (CA 2016) to bar a refreshing software for judicial administration. A examining of the CA 2016 displays that it is silent that a judicial administration application is restricted to a a single-time software only.
In essence, the Court docket held that any judicial management programs, such as subsequent judicial administration programs, need to essentially comply with all the requirements of the CA 2016.
Further, such apps will have to be created bona fide and with comprehensive and frank disclosure of all the content details pertaining to the enterprise. It will then be a query of determining just about every case on the merits of the scenario right before the Court docket in the subsequent judicial management application. The Court will also make certain that there has been no abuse of the court course of action in executing so.
On 11 December 2020, Trans Fame Offshore experienced been put into judicial administration in the very first set of judicial management proceedings (1st JM Proceedings). One of its collectors, Neptune Asia Services, had received the judicial management get (1st JM Buy) and with Datuk Mohd Afrizan appointed as the judicial supervisor.
The 1st JM Order was because of to expire on 9 December 2021.
On 31 July 2021, the judicial manager acquired acceptance from the creditors of the judicial manager’s Assertion of Proposal. The Assertion of Proposal proposed a compensation prepare to the lenders in 3 tranches. Two tranches had been predicted to be obtained throughout the phrase of the 1st JM Buy.
The to start with tranche with a 10% repayment was paid out.
The applicant in this situation, the business of Syed Ibrahim & Co, is a creditor of Trans Fame Offshore and with the applicant’s evidence of personal debt admitted in the judicial administration system in the 1st JM Proceedings.
On 19 November 2021, the applicant wrote to the judicial manager on the progress of the pay out-out of the second tranche distribution. The judicial manager in essence replied that there are prospective funds to be recovered but the recovery system would take time. The process would go over and above the expiry of the 1st JM Buy.
On 1 December 2021, the applicant despatched a letter to the judicial manager to seek consent for the applicant to file a fresh new set of judicial administration proceedings from Trans Fame Offshore. On 2 December 2021, the judicial manager’s solicitors replied with the judicial manager’s consent.
On 4 December 2021, the applicant submitted a 2nd set of judicial management proceedings (2nd JM Proceedings) in opposition to Trans Fame Offshore and sought the appointment of Datuk Mohd Afrizan as the judicial supervisor all over again. The applicant also used to have an interim judicial supervisor, Datuk Mohd Afrizan, to be appointed to preserve the position quo of the firm.
In the meantime, in the 1st JM Proceedings, the 1st JM Get was about to lapse on 9 December 2021. The judicial supervisor, Datuk Mohd Afrizan, obtained an Purchase dated 9 December 2021 (Interim Order) in the 1st JM Proceedings for an interim buy underneath part 424(2)(d) of the CA 2016.
The Interim Order in the 1st JM Proceedings was to be in area pending the disposal of the 2nd JM proceedings these that:
- All property, paperwork, guides and accounts of the corporation be preserved and held as stakeholder by the Judicial Supervisor from 10 December 2021.
- The shareholders of the organization are not permitted to assume management regulate of the business.
- All powers conferred on the Judicial Supervisor under segment 414 and Ninth Schedule of the CA 2016 shall go on to use.
Returning to the ongoing 2nd JM Proceedings, on 10 February 2022, the Court docket granted the Order appointing Datuk Mohd Afrizan as interim judicial manager more than the firm.
An additional creditor had also filed an software to nominate an additional proposed judicial supervisor, Andrew Heng, as judicial supervisor of the company.
For the listening to of the 2nd JM Proceedings, the Court docket now considered regardless of whether to grant, in outcome, a 2nd JM Purchase and to take into account the two proposed candidates for judicial manager.
Initially, the Court docket thought of whether a next judicial management software could be manufactured. The Court docket read through sections 404 and 405 of the CA 2016. The provisions are silent as to irrespective of whether Parliament had intended the CA 2016 to restrict any judicial management programs to a one particular-time software only. Had Parliament intended to do so, it would surely have supplied a part to that result.
Next, the Court docket also took into account the purposive statutory interpretation and the underlying legislative intent of judicial administration to rehabilitate the corporation. Even so, any apps, including subsequent judicial administration applications, need to automatically comply with all the prerequisites of the CA 2016.
These kinds of programs will have to be designed bona fide and with comprehensive and frank disclosure of all the content specifics pertaining to the company. It will then be a concern of selecting each scenario on the merits of the case ahead of the Court docket in the subsequent judicial management application. The Court docket will also be certain that there has been no abuse of the court docket approach in performing so.
3rd, the Court docket also regarded the wording of portion 406 of the CA 2016. This provision sets out that a judicial administration purchase shall continue being in force for a period of 6 months from the generating of the purchase. The judicial manager may perhaps apply to extend this period of time for another 6 months. The Courtroom decided that portion 406 does not bar a clean software for judicial administration.
Fourth, on the deserves of the application, the Court did locate a probability of rehabilitating the organization or of preserving all or element of its enterprise as a likely issue. There could be more shell out-out to the creditors, the chance of additional restoration of substantial sums of funds to the business, the company’s PETRONAS licence had been renewed and the firm experienced correctly bid for the PETRONAS Myanmar project.
Fifth, the Courtroom also discovered that Datuk Mohd Afrizan was the superior and a lot more appropriate applicant to go on to be the judicial supervisor.
This scenario highlights one important challenge when there is a judicial management purchase in area. The highest 12-thirty day period lifespan. As I have composed prior to, there is at minimum just one Superior Court docket conclusion that has established aside the extensions of a judicial management purchase immediately after that 12-thirty day period time period.
This scenario is valuable in creating that there is nothing to prohibit the filing of a next judicial administration application in order to put the organization again below the management of the judicial manager. Specifically listed here, getting beneath the similar judicial supervisor.
Nevertheless, there is the concern of the hole in time between the organization owning the to start with judicial administration order expire, the organization then reverting back under the control of the directors, and the eventual granting of a next judicial administration order. The hole could be months or extended.
As a result, the Court authorized the Interim Order to attempt to bridge this gap. However, I do have some considerations no matter if the Interim Buy could be granted and exactly where it, in effect, artificially prolonged the initial judicial management get and the tenure of the very first judicial supervisor.
The Interim Order was granted under segment 424(2)(d) of the CA 2016. This provision states that the Court on the listening to of an software for the discharge of a judicial management buy might “make an interim purchase or any other order that the Court docket thinks match.” My see is that any this kind of interim get can only proceed to subsist inside the lifespan of the judicial management proceedings. But with the 12-thirty day period time restrict and with the judicial manager no for a longer time there, there could not have been the extension of the judicial manager’s powers less than the conditions of any interim purchase.
To overcome the useful complications of the 12-month lifespan of a first judicial management, certain interim alternatives were being showcased. The organization ongoing to be beneath the handle of a judicial manager or insolvency practitioner through the granting of the Interim Purchase and the appointment of an interim judicial manager in a 2nd set of judicial administration proceedings.
As mentioned by the Court, the Courtroom will be acutely aware of any abuse of course of action and that the judicial administration application ought to be produced bona fide. In a condition in which the statutory goal of rehabilitation can be accomplished, the Courtroom will be keen to make a next judicial administration get and make interim orders to preserve the standing quo.
In my watch, the ideal resolution is for an amendment to our CA 2016 to clear away the 12-thirty day period required lifespan. Allow the Courtroom to have the final discretion and for the course of action to be issue to phrases as could be imposed by the Court. This would then follow the initial wording as contained in segment 227B(8) of the prior Singapore Companies Act:
“(8) A judicial management buy shall, except it is in any other case discharged, continue being in power for a time period of 180 days from the date of the producing of the purchase but the Court docket might, on application of a judicial supervisor, maximize this time period topic to these types of phrases as the Courtroom might impose.”