Abdul Rahman bin Shariff v Abdul Salim bin Syed

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date30 Aug 1999
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 7006 of

[1999] SGHC 222

High Court

Tay Yong Kwang JC

Originating Summons No 7006 of 1999

Abdul Rahman bin Shariff
Plaintiff
and
Abdul Salim bin Syed
Defendant

J B Jeyaretnam and Ganesan Krishnan (G Krishnan & Co) for the plaintiff

Ranald Or (Ling Das & Partners) for the defendant.

Anthony s/o Savarimiuthu v Soh Chuan Tin [1989] 1 SLR (R) 588; [1989] SLR 607 (folld)

Augustine Zacharia Norman v Goh Siam Yong [1992] 1 SLR (R) 746; [1992] 1 SLR 767 (refd)

Sethuraman Arumugam v Star Furniture Industries Pte Ltd [1999] SGHC 144 (refd)

Rules of the Subordinate Courts 1986 O 55 r 1 (5)

Subordinate Courts Act (Cap 321, 1999 Rev Ed) s 20 (1)

Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1985 Rev Ed) ss 21, 21 (3)

Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed) s 21 (1) (consd);s 21

Civil Procedure–Appeals–Leave–Defendant applying for leave to appeal against decision of District Court–Whether appeal available as of right–Principles governing discretion to grant leave to appeal–Section 21 (1) Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed)–Words and Phrases–“Amount in dispute or the value of the subject matter”–Section 21 (1) Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed)

At the trial, the district judge gave judgment for the plaintiff (the respondent in this summons) for $50,000, interest and costs. The applicant applied to the district judge for leave to appeal against the decision but was denied. He then filed this summons arguing that as the respondent's claim was for $50,000, damages, interest and costs, the total value of which exceeded $50,000, he was entitled to appeal as of right pursuant to s 21 (1) of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed). In the alternative, he argued that leave to appeal should be granted as a matter of discretion as the case involved an important question of law.

Held, dismissing the summons:

(1) The words “amount in dispute or the value of the subject matter” in s 21 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act did not encompass the non-contractual interest and costs elements of a claim for a contractual amount or for damages. To do so would introduce uncertainty and confusion in determining the courts' monetary jurisdiction: at [24] and [25].

(2) In the present case, the applicant's appeal was against an award of $50,000, hence the “amount in dispute” did not exceed the minimum prescribed by s 21 and the applicant was not entitled to appeal as of right: at [26].

(3) To obtain leave to appeal, it was necessary to show that a serious and important issue of law was involved. As the applicant's appeal was a factual appeal, leave to appeal was not granted: at [27] to [29].

[Observation: If the respondent's action had been dismissed in toto or if he had been additionally awarded further damages, the aggrieved party could have appealed as of right against the whole decision as the “amount in dispute” would have exceeded $50,000: at [26].

Leave of court to appeal might be granted where the applicant was able (a) to demonstrate a prima facie case of error of law that had a bearing on the decision of the trial court, (b) to show that there was a question of law decided for the first time or a question of law of importance upon which a decision of a higher tribunal would have been to the public advantage or (c) to show a question of law on which there was conflict of judicial authority and a pronouncement from a higher court was desirable. Leave of court should not be granted where there were mere questions of fact to be considered: at [30] and [31].]

Tay Yong Kwang JC

The originating summons

1 This originating summons seeks the following two orders:

  1. 1 the defendant do have leave to file the notice of appeal in this matter and that the decision of the district judge Ms Yap Siew Yong on 26 May 1999 dismissing the defendant's application in this regard be set aside.

  2. 2 pending the application herein and the appeal should leave be given there be a stay of execution on the judgment in DC Suit No 3517/1997 given on 27 March 1999 until the outcome of the appeal.

Background

2 The applicant in this originating summons was the defendant in DC Suit No 3517/1997. After a two-and-a-half-day trial in the District Court, the learned district judge gave judgment on 27 March 1999 for the plaintiff there for $50,000, interest at 6% per annum on the said amount till judgment and costs to be agreed or taxed. The plaintiff had claimed further damages but none was awarded. I shall refer to the parties before me in their capabilities as the plaintiff and the defendant in the District Court proceedings.

The defendant's application before the district judge

3 In support of his application before the learned district judge for leave to appeal against her Honour's decision and for a stay of execution pending appeal, the defendant stated in his affidavit as follows:

  1. 5 Iam dissatisfied with the decision of the learned District Judge in that it was the plaintiff who had approached me to invest his $50,000 in a company called Farwill Trading Pte Ltd run by one Mohd Al Faisal (which I did), that the plaintiff was aware that no receipts were issued in respect of this investment and that the plaintiff had received a return of $10,000 on this investment sometime in June, 1992.

  2. 6 In fact, the plaintiff's statement of claim makes it clear that he was investing through me. It is my case therefore that the plaintiff is simply trying to recover from me moneys that he had lost like many others, including myself, through investments in Farwill Trading Pte Ltd run by the said Mohd Al Faisal and that therefore the claim against me is totally misconceived.

  3. 7 At the trial, evidence was adduced showing through an officer of the Commercial Affairs Department that Mohd Al Faisal was indeed running the company Farwill Trading Pte Ltd and who had since absconded.

  4. 8 I had filed my notice of appeal on 7 April 1999 but have been informed that leave of this court must be obtained. I am advised that as the plaintiff's claim is for $50,000 damages, interest and costs, the total value of the claim against me in my appeal herein...

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