Singapore court awards man $3 million after bad reference denies him new job

A Singapore court has awarded a man S million in compensation after an unflattering reference from his former employer. (Representational Image) Top News

A Singapore court has awarded a man S$4 million ($2.96 million) in compensation after an unflattering reference from his former employer, AXA Life Insurance Singapore, cost him an opportunity to work elsewhere. Ramesh Krishnan, who worked with AXA Life Insurance as an adviser and agent from 2005 until 2011, won an appeal in July last year against a 2012 High Court decision, which dismissed his defamation and negligence suit against his former employer.

In a High Court ruling on Monday, Judge George Wei noted the Court of Appeal’s judgment last year that AXA had breached “its duty of care” in providing a reference check for Krishnan to Prudential Assurance Company Singapore, with whom Krishnan was seeking employment, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which regulates the insurance industry.

The Court of Appeal last year deemed the reference “incomplete, misleading and unfair” and noted AXA’s allusion to Krishnan’s low client persistency ratio, a gauge of insurance business retention, did not provide sufficient information on how this ratio was calculated.

It also said letters AXA sent to both MAS and Prudential alluding to potential ethical violations by Krishnan were baseless.

The Court of Appeal ruled this reference had caused Prudential not to employ Krishnan and sent the case to the High Court for damages.

Judge Wei on Monday determined damages worth S$4.03 million based on the loss of earnings Krishnan would have received through a conditional package offered by Prudential.

Krishnan had initially sought S$63 million based on his estimation of lost compensation and aggravated damages, while AXA had asked that a nominal S$1 be awarded. A spokesperson for AXA said the company is currently seeking legal advice about the court decision.

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