In ST Group Co Ltd and others v Sanum Investments Limited  SGCA 2, the Singapore's Court of Appeal ("COA”) had the chance to deliberate whether it was apt to set aside a judgment which enforced a barred arbitral award and return sums already paid out through garnishee orders.
In this case, an earlier Court of Appeal judgment had set aside an order granting leave to the Respondent to enforce an arbitral award against the Appellants, this was discussed in our earlier update here. Prior to this ruling, the Respondent had obtained a judgment in terms of the arbitral award and garnished sums from the appellants.
However, after the passing of the Court of Appeal’s judgment above, it refused to return the garnished sums to the Appellants. The appellants then applied to set aside the judgment and final garnishee orders, and request for the return of the garnished sums.
The COA in this case highlighted that its inherent power to set aside judgments could only be invoked in certain circumstances, e.g. where the very foundation of a court order has extinguished. Hence, the COA set aside the judgment granting the garnishee order, as it would not be just to uphold a wrong judgment; especially when the continued existence of such order would lead to injustice.
Correspondingly, the Court also held that an appellate court has the inherent power to order the return of sums paid under orders or judgments that have been reversed or otherwise nullified as a result of an appeal. Further, justice will require that the money be returned with interest.