SINGAPORE - The son of the founder of the famed Eng's wonton noodles is back again in court, in the latest chapter of a soured relationship with a business partner.
This time, Mr Desmond Ng is being sued by the business partner, Ms Pauline New, over an alleged conspiracy to "injure" their company, Eng's Noodles House, and cause it to suffer losses.
Joining Mr Ng in defending against the lawsuit are his two sisters - Ms Ng Mui Hong and Ms Ng Mei Ling - and Mr Bill Teng, who owns 5 per cent of the shares in Eng's Noodles House.
Ms New is also accusing Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee, a company owned by the Ng sisters, of being involved in the conspiracy.
Mr Desmond Ng is the son of Mr Ng Ba Eng, who ran a stall at Dunman Road Food Centre selling wonton noodles for decades. The elder Mr Ng died in 2013.
In 2012, the eatery relocated to 287 Tanjong Katong Road, where it was named Eng's Noodles House. Mr Jason Sim, who is Ms New's husband, helped with financing the move.
A company with the same name was also registered at that time, with Mr Desmond Ng and Ms New as directors and shareholders.
Shares in the company were later allotted to Mr Teng, who was handling the accounts of the company, in 2015.
In 2018, The Straits Times reported that a new lease for 287 Tanjong Katong Road had been signed by Mr Thomas Hong, the chief executive officer of soup chain Lao Huo Tang. The shop is now known as Eng's Wantan Noodle.
In the same year, Mr Ng applied to the High Court to wind up Eng's Noodles House, saying that the directors can no longer work with each other and were not on speaking terms.
The court subsequently rejected his application, and ordered him to pay $4,000 in legal costs to Ms New.
The trial for the current case began in the High Court on Monday (July 20), and is expected to end on Aug 7.
In her suit, Ms New, who is represented by lawyers Mr Leslie Yeo and Ms Jolene Tan, claims that she is acting "in a representative capacity" and "on behalf of and for the benefit of" Eng's Noodles House.
She asserts that Mr Ng, his sisters and Mr Teng conspired to carry out a series of acts that caused Eng's Noodles House to suffer losses.
She claims that the acts culminated in the setting up of Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee, which runs a "competing wantan noodle business" at 248/250 Tanjong Katong Road - doors away from where the original eatery was located.
Such acts include attempting to usurp the assets of Eng's Noodles House, including its intellectual property assets, and deliberately shutting down the business in 2018 even though it was profitable, Ms New claims.
Ms New also claims that Mr Ng and Mr Teng misled her in 2015 into signing documents to dilute her shareholding in Eng's Noodles House, thereby allowing them to become majority shareholders of the company.
This eventually paved the way for her removal as director in June 2018 and to stifle any potential legal action by the company against both men, she claims.
She further accuses Mr Ng and Mr Teng of breaching their duties as directors of the company, among other things.
Casting doubts on Ms New's motives in commencing the lawsuit, Mr Teng - who is represented by lawyers Mr Suresh Damodara, Mr Clement Ong and Ms Joni Khoo - contends that she has not made any allegations against Eng's Wantan Noodle, the current shop at 287 Tanjong Katong Road.
The shop has been using the "Eng's" brand since it began operations in April 2018, he asserts.
The Ng sisters and their company, represented by lawyers Mr Leo Cheng Suan and Ms Denise Tay, are countersuing Ms New over her alleged involvement in Eng's Wantan Noodle.
Among other things, they claim that Ms New and her husband are involved in deceiving the former customers of Eng's Noodles House that Eng's Wantan Noodle is the same business started by the Ng family.
The trial resumes on Monday.