Unknown to many, the Singapore Housing & Development Board (HDB) decision to hire two law firms in the USA to represent it in a lawsuit filed against it in the US District Court for Northern District of Ohio, in the United States, has raised many questions.
One of the question is how can HDB hire two law firms in USA to defend itself when it posts annual deficits? Why isn’t HDB using its own panel of lawyers?
HDB incurred a deficit of $1.639 billion in the financial year of 2015/2016, according to its annual report released in Oct last year.
The report indicated the deficit from home ownership alone – which comprises gross loss on the sale of flats, CPF housing grants disbursed and the expected loss for flats currently under development – amounted to $1.179 billion.
HDB has hired the law firms to defend itself against the lawsuit alleging unlawful acquisition of an HDB apartment in Bukit Batok.
One of the law firm, Chaffetz Lindsey LLP, is based in New York City and the other law firm, Tucker Ellis is based in Cleveland/Ohio.
This lawsuit allows a US District Court to review the wide discretionary powers held by HDB in Singapore.
The lawsuit will also allow the District Court to review the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
In an anti-free trade environment climate in the USA, it will be interesting to wait for the judgment, said Azaadjeet Singh, who sent an email to The Independent.
This case will also allow an appeal to made all the way to the US Supreme Court. With a conservative US Supreme Court, it will be interesting to hear its judgment;
Another avenue opens up for addressing wrongs done in Singapore after appeals to the Privy Council were terminated, Azaadjeet Singh wrote.