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Hin Leong, Ocean Tankers judicial management applications adjourned

INSOLVENT oil trader Hin Leong Trading and its sister firm Ocean Tankers were supposed to have their judicial management applications heard on Monday. But a "pure inadvertence" to publish the applications caused the hearing to be adjourned - to the dismay of lawyers for several creditors.

Advocatus Law, the lawyers for Hin Leong, and Damodara Ong, the counsel for Ocean Tankers, realised during the hearing on Monday that they had not published as required by law in the newspapers and government gazette the applications to place the two firms under judicial management.

While they would like to proceed - including the lawyers for many creditors who joined the hearing via video-conferencing platform Zoom- High Court Justice Kannan Ramesh was reluctant to hear the applications, with the statutory requirement for the applications not being complied with.

The publication requirement is to make sure that creditors are informed about the applications and take any necessary actions to safeguard their interests.

Lawyers for several of the creditors voiced their "strong disappointment" that the hearing had to be adjourned, with one of them, Senior Counsel Stanley Lai, calling the slip-ups by both law firms "highly unsatisfactory". 

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The creditors have been given undertaking upon their insistence that Hin Leong and Ocean Tankers would not withdraw their judicial management applications at the adjourned hearing, which has now been fixed to be heard on Aug 7.

These counsel have asked as well that they be paid the legal costs for Monday's hearing, given that they had intended and were prepared for the hearing to go on, but for the omission that the hearing couldn't proceed. The judge reserved his decision on this.

Meanwhile, the interim judicial management orders for both firms continue to be in force.

Both Hin Leong and Ocean Tankers have applied to be placed under judicial management, with the condition to restrain law firm Rajah & Tann Singapore from continuing to act for these two judicial managers on the grounds of conflict of interest. Their lawyers argued that Rajah & Tann has been given privileged or confidential information by the Lim family who owned the firms before Rajah & Tann became the lawyer for the interim judicial managers.

Rajah & Tann will oppose the restraint application, The Business Times understands.

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