All-Trade Construction Pte Ltd v Lo Geok Kwee

JudgeJudith Prakash J
Judgment Date29 June 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGHC 120
Docket NumberSuit No 1322 of 1999 (SIC Nos 601480/2000 and 601482/2000)
Date29 June 2000
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselR Manoj and Syn Kok Kay (Patrick Chin Syn & Co)
Citation[2000] SGHC 120
Defendant CounselLouis Lim (Chee & Teo)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterOwner not paying amount due under certificates to main contractor,Architect's certificate,Conditional leave to defend,Defendant requesting reduction in security required,Whether defendant discharge burden of showing why security should be reduced,Building contract,Security,Defendant requesting extension of time to furnish security,Singapore Institute of Architects' (SIA) Articles and Conditions of Building Contract (Lump Sum Contract),Contract,Summary judgment,Civil Procedure,Whether defendant discharged burden of showing why time should be extended,Agreement in writing,Parol evidence,Whether main contractor entitled to payment,Owner claiming separate agreement from the one in writing,Whether parol evidence can be used to show separate agreement

: Background

The defendant is the owner of the property under development known as Lots 387-14 and SL TS 12 at North Bridge Road, Singapore (`the property`).
In 1997, the defendant decided to erect a seven-storey building on the property. By a letter dated 27 May 1997, her architects, Messrs Architects Group Associates Pte Ltd, the defendant appointed the plaintiffs as the main contractor for the construction of the building.

The letter of award stated that the works were awarded at a revised lump sum of $1,680,000 derived from nine items to be effected ranging from preliminaries to the hosereel, sprinkle and fire alarm system installation.
In the letter of award, separate amounts were allocated to each of these items. The letter stated that the contract sum was to be a fixed lump sum and no provisions would be allowed for fluctuations in prices of materials, wages or levies etc provided that this clause did not prohibit variations duly authorised under the conditions of contract. It was also confirmed that the plaintiffs had read, understood and accepted the terms and conditions of the form of contract which was based on the Articles and Conditions of Building Contract (Lump Sum Contract) published by the Singapore Institute of Architects (`the SIA Conditions`).

By an acknowledgement dated 27 May 1999, the plaintiffs confirmed their acceptance of the terms and conditions stipulated in the letter of award.

By September 1999, the architects had certified that works totalling $1,242,118.05 had been completed by the plaintiffs under the contract.
As of that date, however, the defendant had only paid the plaintiffs $781,210.47, leaving a balance of $460,907.58 outstanding. On 7 September 1999, the plaintiffs commenced this action to recover the said sum of $460,907.58.

In due course the plaintiffs filed an application for summary judgment and this was heard on 1 March 2000.
The learned assistant registrar ordered at the end of the hearing that the defendant be given conditional leave to defend upon furnishing a banker`s guarantee for a sum of $460,907.58 within the next 28 days and in default there would be judgment for the plaintiffs as claimed with costs fixed at $4,500.

There was then a slew of applications.
First, on 14 March the plaintiffs filed an appeal against the assistant registrar`s order and asked for summary judgment to be entered against the defendant. The next day, the defendant filed an appeal against the order for conditional leave and she asked that this be substituted by an order that the payment into court be only for the sum of $109,615.59 and that the defendant be given an extension of one month from the date of the notice to make such payment. The third application, filed on 24 March 2000, was a summons-in-chambers whereby the defendant applied for leave to amend her defence and counterclaim. The final application was another summons-in-chambers filed by the defendant on the same day. This was for an extension of time of two months up to 29 May 2000 in which to comply with the order of court dated 1 March 2000.

The defendant did not furnish security for the plaintiffs` claim within the 28 days as ordered and, by the time all the matters mentioned in [para ] 6 came on for hearing before me on 4 April, the plaintiffs had entered judgment in default.
At that hearing therefore, the plaintiffs applied for leave to withdraw their appeal against the order granting the defendant conditional leave to defend. I granted their application. After hearing the parties on the other applications, I dismissed the defendant`s appeal with costs and also dismissed her application for an extension of time of two months. I made no order on her application to amend her defence and statement of claim as that application was rendered otiose by the judgment which the plaintiffs had obtained. The defendant has now appealed against everything I did that day including my grant of leave to the plaintiffs to withdraw their appeal.

The defence

The defendant filed a defence and counterclaim in which she alleged that it had been agreed between the plaintiffs and the defendant that there were to be two separate contracts, one between the parties directly and the other between the plaintiffs and their sub-contractors for and on behalf of the defendant. Under the second contract, the plaintiffs were to act as middlemen only and were to be paid a percentage of the profit and attendance.

She further alleged that under the first contract, the agreed sum was only $708,000 made up of preliminaries, structural and architectural matters and mechanical and engineering works.
It was agreed that a total sum of $560,000 would be due upon completion of the second contract and this was made up of the air-conditioning installation, the curtain wall cladding, the lift installation, the hosereel, sprinkle and fire alarm system and piling works. These amounts were to be due directly from the defendant to the sub-contractors. In this regard, the amount of $80,000 due...

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2 cases
  • Chua Swee Ho v Stratech Aerospace Systems Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 7 August 2020
    ...indeed the Plaintiff is not asserting so. The Plaintiff sought to rely on the case of All-Trade Construction Pte Ltd v Lo Geok Kwee [2000] 2 SLR(R) 318 (“All-Trade”) which concerns a situation where the High Court refused to grant the defendant’s application for an extension of time to furn......
  • JSD Construction Pte Ltd v Progen Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 21 February 2001
    ...validity. [Clause 31 (11) referred to is identical to the present case.] 9. Finally, in All-Trade Construction Pte Ltd v Lo Geok Kwee [2000] 4 SLR 204. It was held that the Main Contractor's right to receive payment from the Employer was clear. Pursuant to the terms of the SIA Conditions, a......
2 books & journal articles
  • Contract Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2000, December 2000
    • 1 December 2000
    ...(South Pacific) Development Co Ltd v Leisure Park (Singapore) Pte Ltd[2000] 1 SLR 622 and All-Trade Construction Pte Ltd v Lo Geok Kwee[2000] 4 SLR 204; and on building contracts generally see supra, pp 35—55); the issue of the award of interest (see eg, Chuang Uming (Pte) Ltd v Setron Ltd[......
  • Building and Construction Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2000, December 2000
    • 1 December 2000
    ...was irrelevant to liability. Certificate of payment and unauthorised variation works In All-Trade Construction Pte Ltd v Lo Geok Kwee[2000] 4 SLR 204. the employer sought to resist the contractor”s application for summary judgment for the $460.907.58 which was the balance of the sum certifi......

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