Tanglin Club fails in bid to quash $50k payout

PHOTO: Tanglin Club fails in bid to quash $50k payout

SINGAPORE - A woman who suffered "humiliation" when she was dropped from her post at the Tanglin Club will get to keep her $50,000 damages payout after a bid to quash it in the High Court failed.

Ms Angela Loke, 63, was left distressed and embarrassed after she was removed from her position as magazine and website convenor.

She was awarded the damages after going for arbitration, a legal process for settling disputes out of court.

But her opponents launched a High Court bid to overturn the decision. They claimed that the arbitrator was biased because he had once joined the club but had his membership terminated.

Now, Justice Chan Seng Onn has dismissed the club's application and ordered it to pay the costs of the hearing.

The dispute began in 2008 when Ms Loke got into a number of disputes with then-club president Philip Beng.

Despite serving on its committee, she claimed she was not given a portfolio. And only three months after she took the post, she was dropped following a reorganisation.

She asked for an explanation from Mr Beng but her request was refused.

Her name was then omitted from two issues of the organisation's magazine.

Ms Loke started arbitration proceedings, instead of legal action.

The arbitrator awarded her the $50,000 in damages.

This triggered a heated special general meeting at the club earlier this year.

Tempers frayed as members agonised over whether to go to court to try and have the payout overturned.

In the end, 164 of them voted for and 123 against.

By that time, the club was reported to have spent more than $281,000 on the case.

At the High Court hearing on Wednesday, the club claimed that the arbitrator was biased and had breached the rules of natural justice.

He had failed to disclose his previous association with the club and that his membership was terminated, said lawyer Wong Siew Hong.

But Ms Loke's lawyer S.H. Almenoar argued that the club's application was misconceived, pointing out that the award is final and binding.

He added that it could have raised the issue about the arbitrator's past membership well before the payout was granted.

Justice Chan ordered the club to pay $15,000 in hearing costs.

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