A court in Singapore has awarded a former insurance agent Singapore $4m ($2.96m) in compensation after a scathing letter of reference from his former employer cost him the chance to be employed in other companies.

The High Court on Monday (14 August) awarded Ramesh Krishnan the compensation for loss of earning due to the action by AXA Life Insurance, with whom he was working from 2005 to 2011.

Krishnan was reportedly seeking new employment with Prudential Assurance Company Singapore but was denied a job after the reference letter allegedly defamed him in 2012.

The 47-year-old filed a defamation suit against AXA but he lost the case in the High Court in 2015.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled last year that AXA had breached "its duty of care" when providing a reference letter on Krishnan's work performance, which led Prudential to not to hire Krishnan. It had deemed the reference "incomplete, misleading and unfair", Reuters reported.

AXA reportedly told Prudential that Krishnan showed poor client persistency ratio, meaning that many of his clients did not stick with their policies. AXA had also mentioned that the company was concerned whether Krishnan provided proper advice to his clients.

But the Court of Appeal said the reference given by AXA would have given the wrong impression to Prudential that Krishnan was not competent in his job.

It also noted that the company did not provide enough information on how it calculated the client persistency ratio and that its negative remarks on the employee contradicted the company's earlier award given to Krishnan as one of AXA's best financial services directors.

AXA had apparently once persuaded Krishnan not to resign, media reports said.

The Court of Appeal had referred the case to the Singapore High Court to determine the damages.
Judge George Wei on Monday (14 August) agreed with the Court of Appeal's judgment and awarded the $2.96m damages.

Krishnan is reported to have initially sought Singaporean $63m as compensation while AXA said he should be awarded only Singaporean $1m.

According to Reuters, AXA said it was seeking legal advice on the High Court's decision.