The Singapore courts are empowered to support arbitration proceedings in a number of ways, including through the granting of orders to aid in the enforcement of arbitral awards. However, what happens if the judicial decision to enforce the arbitral award is reversed on appeal to a higher court? Can the orders granted to aid enforcement be set aside? Can sums already paid be ordered to be returned?

These were the issues faced by the Singapore Court of Appeal in ST Group Co Ltd and others v Sanum Investments Limited[2022] SGCA 2, a dispute involving commercial arrangements in and parties from Laos. Here, an earlier Singapore Court of Appeal had previously set aside an order granting leave to the Respondent to enforce an arbitral award against the Appellants. Prior to the Court of Appeal's decision, and pursuant to the leave order, the Respondent had obtained a judgment in terms of the arbitral award and three garnishee orders, and had garnished sums from the Appellants.

After the Court of Appeal's decision, the Respondent refused to return the garnished sums to the Appellants. The Appellants thus applied to set aside the judgment and final garnishee orders, and for the return of the garnished sums.

The Singapore Court of Appeal here considered the existence and exercise of a Singapore court's inherent power to set aside a judgment and garnishee orders, and to order the return of sums paid pursuant to those garnishee orders in circumstances where the earlier order giving rise to the judgment and garnishee orders was reversed.

The Appellants were successfully represented by Francis Xavier, SC, Edwin Tan, Kristin Ng and Alvin Tay from Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.

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