Civil Procedure

Date01 December 2007
AuthorCavinder BULL SC MA (Oxford), LLM (Harvard); Barrister (Gray’s Inn), Attorney-at-Law (New York State); Advocate and Solicitor (Singapore). Jeffrey PINSLER SC LLB (Liverpool), LLM (Cambridge), LLD (Liverpool); Barrister (Middle Temple), Advocate and Solicitor (Singapore); Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.
Citation(2007) 8 SAL Ann Rev 99
Published date01 December 2007

7.1 Where a party renders accounts in compliance with the terms of a judgment, it is not appropriate for the opposing party (who contests the accounting period relied upon) to make an application by summons for the purpose of determining the correct accounting period. This is a matter which must be left to the determination of the registrar at the inquiry into those accounts. Such an application was made pursuant to a consent judgment in Seiko Epson Corp v Sepoms Technology Pte Ltd[2007] 3 SLR 225. The High Court considered O 43 r 3 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2006 Rev Ed) in conjunction with O 38 r 8 and concluded that an application for an interlocutory hearing by summons was misconceived (at [14]—[15]).

Court”s discretion to waive security deposit

7.2 In Lee Hsien Loong v Singapore Democratic Party[2008] 1 SLR 757, the Court of Appeal held that the provision for security deposit stipulated in O 57 r 3(3) is mandatory and therefore cannot be waived by the court.

7.3 Waiving the provision for security deposit, even for a bankrupt, would effectively allow the applicant a right of appeal free from any need to compensate the plaintiffs if his appeal fails.

Decision to hear notice of appeal

7.4 In Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG v Go Dante Yap[2007] 4 SLR 667, the Court of Appeal said that, for practical reasons, courts are generally reluctant to entertain appeals against interlocutory orders

made in the course of the trial. Chan Sek Keong CJ said that this court retains the inherent jurisdiction to strike out appeals which are not appropriate for hearing before an appellate court.

7.5 However, the Court of Appeal held that the case was appropriate for the exercise of powers under O 57 r 13(3) of the Rules of Court to remit the matter back to the trial judge for him to reconsider the interlocutory orders. While the interlocutory orders did not finally dispose of the rights of the parties, they did dispose of an evidentiary issue which may prejudice the rights of the appellants if the decisions were not overruled.

Extension of time to file appeals

7.6 In Lee Hsien Loong v Singapore Democratic Party[2008] 1 SLR 757, the Court of Appeal, referring to its decision in Lai Swee Lin Linda v AG[2006] 2 SLR 565, held (at [18]) that the four factors to be considered in determining whether to allow an extension to file a notice of appeal are the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, the chances of the appeal succeeding and the prejudice caused to the would- be respondent if the extension were granted.

7.7 Andrew Phang JA held that all the four factors are of equal importance and must be balanced amongst one another, having regard to all facts and circumstances of the case concerned. His Honour noted that the principles apply equally to applications for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal, as well as to applications for an extension of time to serve the notice of appeal. The Court of Appeal also said that courts will adopt a far stricter approach towards applications for extension of time for the filing and/or serving of a notice of appeal relative to other situations. This is so because of the overriding concern of finality in the context of appeals.

Introduction of new issue

7.8 In Townsing Henry George v Jenton Overseas Investment Pte Ltd[2007] 2 SLR 597, the Court of Appeal agreed with the respondent that it would be unfair for the appellate court to introduce the principle of reflective loss on its own initiative (at [85]—[89]).

7.9 Chan Sek Keong CJ referred to the principle stated in the English cases of The Tasmania(1890) 15 App Cas 223 and Connecticut Fire Insurance Co v Kavanagh[1982] AC 473 which has been followed by the Court of Appeal in Panwah Steel Pte Ltd v Koh Brother Building & Civil Engineering Contractor (Pte) Ltd[2006] 4 SLR 472.

7.10 The principle is based on two tests. First, the court must be satisfied beyond doubt that it has all the facts bearing upon the new contention as completely as would have been the case if the controversy had arisen at trial; and secondly, there must be no satisfactory explanation that can be offered by those whose conduct has been impugned if an opportunity for explanation had been afforded them when in the witness box.

7.11 In applying this principle to the case where the new issue is sought to be introduced by the court, Chan Sek Keong CJ said that the principles which inhibit the parties from raising new points on appeal, particularly where the facts have not been investigated at trial, apply equally where it is the court, rather than the parties, which seek to introduce the new legal issue.

Introduction of new evidence

7.12 In Su Sh-Hsyu v Wee Yue Chew[2007] 3 SLR 673, the Court of Appeal allowed the appellant, under O 57 r 13(2) of the Rules of Court, despite not satisfying the first of three conditions stated in Ladd v Marshall[1954] 1 WLR 1489, to admit fresh evidence uncovering fraud or deception of the other party.

7.13 The three conditions in Ladd v Marshall are: (a) the evidence could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence for use in the trial; (b) the evidence must be such that, if given, would probably have an important influence on the result of the case, though it need not be decisive; and (c) the evidence must be such as is presumably to be believed or apparently credible.

7.14 V K Rajah JA held (Su Sh-Hsyu v Wee Yue Chew[2007] 3 SLR 673 at [36]) that usually, all three conditions need to be applied strictly. However, finis litium could not invariably or rigidly be imposed such that it would allow a miscarriage of justice to go uncorrected. In particular, where the new evidence uncovered fraud or deception of the other party, and such fraud struck at the root of the litigation, then so long as the second and third conditions in Ladd v Marshall are met, the court would, in exceptional circumstances be prepared to exercise measured flexibility in relation to the application of the first condition. In order for the alleged fraud to strike at the very root of litigation, the fresh evidence has to be crucial to or determinative of the final outcome to be ultimately reached by the court.

7.15 Fresh evidence will only be allowed in light of all the facts and circumstances. Even if perturbing circumstances existed, the court would be most reluctant to allow an application when either the applicant had not acted promptly in making the application or where

the applicant was not acting in good faith, eg, was aware of but suppressed evidence of fraud in earlier proceedings.

Leave to appeal

7.16 In Koh Toi Choi v Lim Geok Hong[2007] 3 SLR 340, the High Court held that the basis that the trial judge had erred in law is one of the three guidelines for granting leave of appeal. Referring to the Court of Appeal in IW v IX[2006] 1 SLR 135, Belinda Ang Saw Ean J said (at [11]) that ‘prima facie error’ related to errors of law, not fact. A judge is said to have erred in law if his discretion was exercised in a way that was plainly wrong.

Notice to admit documents

7.17 In Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG v Go Dante Yap[2007] 4 SLR 667, the Court of Appeal had the opportunity to consider the High Court”s conclusion that the authenticity of certain documents had not been deemed to be admitted pursuant to O 27 r 4. The case is considered under ‘Appeals’.

Notice to admit facts: costs

7.18 The costs of proving facts not admitted in a notice to admit facts are normally assessed on a standard basis. See Colliers International (S) Pte Ltd v Senkee Logistics Pte Ltd[2007] 2 SLR 230 at [127].

Assessment of damages
Position when percentage of liability agreed upon

7.19 When a party”s liability has been fixed at a certain percentage (by agreement or by the court), and damages are ordered to be assessed, the percentage applies to the amount of the damages assessed and not the pecuniary limit of the court involved. In Ng Chan Teng v Keppel Singmarine Dockyard Pte Ltd[2007] 4 SLR 633, the plaintiff, who had brought his action in the District Court, obtained interlocutory judgment based on 70% liability on the part of the defendant with damages to be assessed. The District Judge had ruled that the percentage applied to the District Court pecuniary limit of $250,000 so that the plaintiff was entitled to $175,000. The High Court disagreed. Choo Han Teck J pointed out that when a defendant consents to interlocutory

judgment at 70% liability with damages to be assessed, ‘he is taken to have accepted responsibility and [becomes] bound to pay 70% of the damages that he would have to pay had he been found entirely liable. It is only after damages have been assessed that the court needs to know whether there are any other rules that prevent the plaintiff from fully recovering the amount assessed’ (at [3]). For example, if the plaintiff”s damages are assessed at $250,000, he would be entitled to $175,000. If they are assessed at $400,000, he would prima facie be entitled to $280,000. However, in this latter scenario, he would only be awarded $250,000 because this is the pecuniary limit of the District Court (see s 20 of the Subordinate Courts Act (Cap 321, 2007 Rev Ed)).

New evidence

7.20 In Tan Sia Boo v Ong Chiang Kwong[2007] 4 SLR 298, the High Court considered whether it had the discretion to admit new evidence of the plaintiff”s physical condition which contradicted the evidence given by the plaintiff in the course of the hearing of the assessment of damages. After the hearing, the defendant employed a private investigator to keep surveillance on the plaintiff. The defendant also changed solicitors. The plaintiff appealed against the award of damages and the defendant cross-appealed. The defendant applied to introduce new evidence consisting of video recordings of the plaintiff by the investigator and the affidavits of the defendant”s medical experts concerning the new...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT