“…Ultimately, good commercial sense dictates that most of the time it is “all about the money”. It does not make sense to throw good money at something that will cost more than the potential returns. However, there are sometimes “strategic” reasons for commencing a suit for a relatively small sum of money or defending a suit which may not be the strongest legally. I am sensitive to these strategic interests while balancing my client’s commerciality…”
2. Here, I wish to share 2 matters that I handled where the money itself did not justify the claim.
2.1 Case 1: (a) My client (“C”) was an ex-employee of a company (“X”). C was owed about slightly less than S$5,000.00 in unpaid claims. He had followed up with X for a good 1 year before seeking my help. X simply ignored C.
(b) On the surface, it did not make sense commencing a suit for the low claim. However, upon being advised of the costs and the potential obstacles, C decided to proceed. He explained 2 points: (i) that his industry was small and if he did not show he was serious, other unscrupulous employers would take advantage of him too; and (ii) because the industry is small, X would also want to avoid negative publicity as the pool of employees with C’s skills was equally small.
(c) We reached mediation. After enduring harsh scolding from the Judge (as the claim was small) and holding my ground, X’s lawyer realized that C was serious and I was equally serious about advancing C’s interests. X settled and C was paid most of what he claimed. While he was out of pocket by a bit, C was satisfied that his objectives were met. C was confident that he sent a clear message not to mess with him (and hopefully other employees too). On my part, I was transparent with my fees from the start and C seemed appreciative of my transparency.
2.2 Case 2: (a) My client (“C”) was in a relationship with (“X”). She ended the relationship when she found out that X had used monies borrowed from her, to sustain his affairs with other girls. X had borrowed monies from C on the pretext of “financial difficulties”. X was quite frankly a loser (*Note: I would prefer to use a combination of various other expletives to describe X but will maintain some decorum).
(b) The amount in question was significant, but not enough to cause real financial hardship to C. Upon me explaining the costs and potential obstacles, C decided that she would sue X and make him a bankrupt, even if she did not get her money back. To her, it was about closure and restoring confidence in herself. She had put her all into the relationship with X, only to have her trust betrayed so cruelly. She was devastated to say the least, but I admire how she decided to stand up for herself.
(c) I tried numerous ways to recover at least a partial payment, but X plainly refused to pay C, even though he admitted liability and fault in writing to both C and me. At 1 point, X seemed worried about becoming a bankrupt as this would affect his employment, but he doubted C’s resolve see bankruptcy proceedings to the end. In his desperation to manipulate the outcome, he asked me to send a message to C that he cares. I told him in no uncertain terms what a loser he was to still be playing such games, and he should pay C back if he was sincere.
(d) Eventually, X was made a bankrupt. I took little consolation at achieving our legal objective. But C’s gradual boost in confidence throughout proceedings, that was priceless. When C first approached me, she had left her previous job and was taking time off as she was too emotionallyshaken to work. Near the end of proceedings, she said that was looking forward to starting a new job and moving on with life. My parting advice (which was repeated numerous times), was for C to put this in the rear-view mirror and to pursue the happiness that she deserved.
3. At JinHuang Legal LLC, we believe that justice does not magically fall on one’s lap, nor does it come without any effort or at no cost. However, with the right approach and objectives, you would be surprised at how justice takes shape. As the saying goes “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men (*and women) to do nothing”.