Zim ordered to pay defamation damages.
ISRAELI box line, Zim Integrated Shipping Services has been ordered to pay S$70,000 ($49,920) in compensatory and aggravated damages after defaming two shipping company bosses.
In a reserved 34-page judgment, Singapore High Court Judge Lai Siu Chiu awarded S$25,000 in compensatory and $10,000 in aggravated damages to both Benedict Ng and Rajathurai Suppiah.
This followed claims by Zim, in a three paragraph emailed statement to an Asian shipping media group in January 2008, that both men had been charged in Singapore"s Supreme Court, together with former Zim Asia president Igal Dafni.
Zim said that according to court documents Mr Ng and Mr Suppiah were alleged to have made secret payment of salary and benefits to Capt Dafni and the secret payments induced Capt Dafni to breach his duties as Asia president. Capt Dafni left Zim in May 2006 and later joined Taiwan's CNC Line.
Zim added in the statement that Capt Dafni was managing director of CNC Line, while Mr Ng and Mr Suppiah were directors and shareholders in Malaysia"s Starship Agencies, which was the CNC Line agent in Malaysia.
Judge Lai said the use of the word ?charged? in the Zim statement conveyed ?to the ordinary reasonable reader, the meaning that there were reasonable grounds to suspect? that Mr Ng and Mr Suppiah ?had bribed Capt Dafni to corruptly procure favours?.
The judge added that Zim"s linking of Starship Agencies and CNC Lines immediately after the bribery allegations meant ?there were reasonable grounds to suspect that this agency relationship had been procured through bribes? given by the two men to Capt Dafni.
Judge Lai said that given the meanings conveyed in the Zim statement it could not be disputed the statement was defamatory.
Zim had made ?very serious allegations that there were reasonable grounds to suspect? Mr Ng and Mr Suppiah ?were involved in acts of corruption and bribery and it is difficult to see how the statement would not have adversely affected? their reputation.
As a result, she said both men had ?succeeded in proving that the statement was defamatory?.
A separate court hearing will be held to determine who should pay the costs of the court case. Mr Ng and Mr Suppiah are still deciding whether to appeal to increase the amount of damages that Zim should pay.
This was the second court case Zim has lost involving its former head of the Asia operation.
Judge Lai had already exonerated Capt Dafni, Mr Ng and Mr Suppiah of any wrongdoing in a judgment on January 11 after Zim and associated companies, including Gold Star Line and Seth Shipping, alleged Capt Dafni breached his contract and fiduciary duties.