Half-yearly Report of the Consumer Legal Action Fund (1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016)
This is a report about the financial status of the Fund and the progress of assisted cases for the period from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016.
During the reporting period, total income and expenditure of the Fund were $61,940 and $1,331,204 respectively. As at 30 September 2016, total accumulated fund stood at about $10.02 million.
Report on cases
During the reporting period, the Fund has received 6 new applications. 4 applications had been received prior to the reporting period and were under process during the reporting period. Amongst these 10 applications, the Fund granted assistance to 1 application and declined 4 applications. 1 application was solved during application and 4 applications were still under consideration.
Progress of cases
Cases Carried Over From Previous Year
1. Beauty Service – Claims of Fraudulent Misrepresentation and Unconscionable Conduct
This case is concerned with sale of beauty services allegedly promoted under the pretext of a so-called “spokesperson campaign”. During the reporting period, the solicitors appointed by the Fund had been enforcing the judgment obtained in District Court on behalf of the assisted consumer. They had also objected to the intended deregistration of one of the trader’s companies on the ground that there were legal proceedings underway to prevent the company from being dissolved.
2. Headquarters and Professional Staff Costs charged by a Management Company of a Residential Housing Estate
This case is concerned with the justifiability of the Headquarters and Professional Staff Costs charged by a management company to flat owners of a residential housing estate. During the reporting period, the respective legal representatives of the assisted flat owners and the management company were in the course of negotiating on and arranging pre-action disclosure of relevant accounts regarding the management fees in dispute.
3. Dental Services – Failure to Provide or Complete Prepaid Treatment
This is a group of cases involving 6 assisted consumers who had made payments for services to the dental clinic in question, which then ceased its business before providing or completing the services to the consumers. During the reporting period, the solicitors appointed by the Fund for the assisted consumers were in the course of enforcing the judgments previously obtained.
4. Beauty Service – Personal Injuries Claim
The assisted consumer had sustained personal injuries as a result of the beauty treatments allegedly performed by a beauty salon negligently. Legal proceedings had been commenced against the sole proprietor operating the beauty salon. An interlocutory judgment had been obtained based on failure to file notice of intention to defend on the part of the defendant. The case proceeded to assessment of damages to be paid by the defendant. Nevertheless, during the reporting period, the defendant appeared in person at a checklist review hearing indicating her intention to set aside the interlocutory judgment. However, no application for setting aside the judgment was made within the time prescribed by the court. The solicitors appointed by the Fund for the assisted consumer filed various documents according to court directions and were in the course of preparing for the next checklist review hearing.
5. Alleged Misappropriation of Management Fees and Failure to Make Proper Disclosure of Expenses by Management Company of a Residential Housing Estate
The assisted consumer, being a first-hand purchaser of a residential unit of the estate in question, alleged that the estate manager had misappropriated the management fees to pay for expenses incurred in handing over the residential units from the developer to first-hand purchasers. The assisted consumer further alleged that the estate manager failed to make proper disclosure of the estate’s management accounts in respect of other expenses.
During the reporting period, the solicitors appointed by the Fund for the assisted consumer issued a letter before action to the management company. Shortly before the end of the reporting period, the solicitors for the management company issued a letter of reply defending the allegations. The solicitors appointed by the Fund were in the course of preparing for commencing legal proceedings.
Newly Assisted Case
1. Money Lender and Loan Broker – Claims of Misrepresentation and Deceit
The assisted consumer was allegedly misled by various representations made by a money lender and a loan broker into borrowing a mortgage loan.
The Fund considered that this kind of unfair trade practice was not uncommon in the money lending business and assisting the matter would have significance in consumer protection. By the end of the reporting period, the Fund was instructing a solicitors’ firm to pursue the claims for the assisted consumer.
Annexure 1 to this report is a brief statistics of the Fund’s cases.