Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd v Mc Trans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date30 July 2012
Docket NumberSuit No 856 of 2009
Date30 July 2012

[2012] SGHC 154

High Court

Belinda Ang Saw Ean J

Suit No 856 of 2009

Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd and others
Mc Trans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd

Winston Kwek Choon Lin and Joseph Tang (Rajah & Tann LLP) for the plaintiffs

Tan Thye Hoe Timothy and Gho Sze Kee (Asia Legal LLC) for the defendant.

Belvoir Finance Co Ltd v Stapleton [1971] 1 QB 210 (folld)

Bowmaker Ltd v Wycombe Motors Ltd [1946] KB 505 (refd)

Bowmakers Ltd v Barnet Instruments Ltd [1945] 1 KB 65 (folld)

Cassils & Co v Holden Wood Bleaching Co Ltd (1914) 84 LJKB 834 (refd)

Chee Jok Heng Stephanie v Chang Yue Shoon [2010] 3 SLR 1131 (refd)

Cherry, The [2003] 1 SLR (R) 471; [2003] 1 SLR 471 (refd)

Clayton v Le Roy [1911] 2 KB 1031 (refd)

Costello v Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary [2001] 1 WLR 1437 (folld)

Crawshay v Homfray (1820) 4 B & A 50; 106 ER 856 (folld)

Cuff v Broadlands Finance Ltd [1987] 2 NZLR 343 (refd)

East West Corp v DKBS AF 1912 A/S [2003] QB 1509 (folld)

Endurance 1 ex Tokai Maru, The [2000] 2 SLR (R) 120; [2000] 3 SLR 190 (folld)

Francis Hollins v George Fowler (1874-5) LR 7 HL 757 (refd)

Future Express, The [1992] 2 Lloyd's Rep 79, QBD (Comm) (folld)

Future Express, The [1993] 2 Lloyd's Rep 542, CA (Civ) (refd)

Geismar v Sun Alliance and London Insurance Ltd [1978] QB 383 (refd)

General and Finance Facilities Ltd v Cooks Cars (Romford) Ltd [1963] 1 WLR 644 (folld)

Helga Henriette Schwarzschild v Harrods Ltd [2008] EWHC 521 (QB) (refd)

Ketteman v Hansel Properties Ltd [1987] AC 189 (folld)

Marcq v Christie Manson & Woods Ltd [2004] QB 286 (refd)

Siew Kong Engineering Works v Lian Yit Engineering Sdn Bhd [1993] 1 SLR (R) 736; [1993] 2 SLR 505 (refd)

Singh v Thaper (28 July 1987) Transcript Association (refd)

Siow Soon Kim v Lim Eng Beng [2004] SGCA 4 (refd)

Tat Seng Machine Movers Pte Ltd v Orix Leasing Singapore Ltd [2009] 4 SLR (R) 1101; [2009] 4 SLR 1101 (folld)

Tavoulareas v Lau [2007] EWCA Civ 474 (refd)

Tear v Freebody (1858) 4 CB NS 228; 140 ER 1071 (refd)

Teo Gracie v Tay Leng Hong [1987] SLR (R) 315; [1987] SLR 319 (refd)

Tinsley v Milligan [1994] 1 AC 340 (folld)

Top Ten Entertainment Pte Ltd v Lucky Red Investments Ltd [2004] 4 SLR (R) 559; [2004] 4 SLR 559 (refd)

Trans-World (Aluminium) Ltd v Cornelder China (Singapore) [2003] 3 SLR (R) 501; [2003] 3 SLR 501 (refd)

Webb v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2000] QB 427 (folld)

Yoong Yuet Hoe v Shenson Engineering & Trading (S) Pte Ltd [1994] 1 SLR (R) 950; [1994] 2 SLR 675 (refd)

Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2006 Rev Ed) O 15 r 4 (8) , O 33 r 2

Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 (c 32) (UK)

Bailment—Bailees—Whether head bailee had right to immediate possession—Whether bailee's title superior to holder of bare possessory title

Bailment—Bailors—Rights of—Whether bailor had right to immediate possession—Whether actual possession necessary to constitute party as bailor—Bailment at will—Whether bailee and bailor had concurrent standing to sue

Civil Procedure—Parties—Joinder—Whether cause of action had to be constituted by date writ of summons was issued or by date writ of summons was amended and served

Contract—Illegality and public policy—Whether defendant proved that illegality perpetuated—Whether plaintiffs' claim founded on illegality

Credit and Security—Lien—Legal lien—Whether defendant had lawful possession to exercise lien—Whether defendant had express, implied or ostensible authority to create lien—Whether there was accrued debt to support lien

Tort—Conversion—Bailor and head bailee suing defendant for conversion of cargo—Defendant took possession of cargo as consignee named on bills of lading—Whether defendant was innocent intermediary—Whether there was demand and refusal—Whether silence could amount to refusal

This action concerned acts of conversion alleged against the defendant (‘the Defendant’), whose Indonesian principal was PT Prolink Logistics (‘Prolink’). The first three plaintiffs (‘Plaintiffs’) were appointed to provide door-to-door freight forwarding services. In this regard, the first three Plaintiffs consolidated and shipped 30 x 40' containers (‘the 30 FCL containers’) from Singapore to Jakarta. The 30 FCL containers were shipped on board Sinar Sumbar and APL Shenzhen under three bills of lading (‘the February B/Ls’) in February 2009.

The first three Plaintiffs through the second and third Plaintiffs' director, Tie Hari Mulya (‘Hari’), orally agreed with one Nurdian Cuaca (‘Cuaca’) that the first three Plaintiffs would handle the clearance of the 30 FCL containers at the Singapore end while Cuaca, through Prolink, was responsible for the receipt, customs clearance and container transport to designated warehouses in Indonesia.

It transpired that the carriers could not deliver the 30 FCL containers at the discharge port in Jakarta. Initially, the Indonesian customs authority rejected Prolink's request to ship the 30 FCL containers back to Singapore. The 30 FCL containers were eventually permitted to be returned to Singapore after the ruling of the Jakarta State Administrative Court in August 2009.

To this end, Hari and Cuaca agreed that the first Plaintiff was to be consignee on the bills of lading for the shipment of the 30 FCL containers back to Singapore (‘the September shipment’). However, the first three Plaintiffs later discovered on 18 September 2009 that the name of the consignee had been unilaterally changed to the Defendant.

The 30 FCL containers arrived in Singapore on 19 September 2009. The Defendant took possession of the 30 FCL containers at Goodway Agencies (Shipping) Pte Ltd and PSA Keppel Godown F 5 Module K.

In October 2009, Cuaca demanded that the first three Plaintiffs pay Rp45bn before the 30 FCL containers would be released to the Plaintiffs. Hari refused.

Prior to 12 October 2009, there were failed attempts to contact the Defendant for the release of the 30 FCL containers. The first three Plaintiffs then appointed lawyers who wrote to the Defendant on 12 October 2009 demanding delivery up of the 30 FCL containers by the deadline stipulated in the letter. The Defendant did not respond. The first three Plaintiffs then commenced these proceedings against the Defendant on 13 October 2009 for conversion.

Unbeknown to the first three Plaintiffs, the Defendant had received instructions from Prolink to release the cargo in the 30 FCL containers as early as the first week of October 2009. The Defendant was agreeable to the release of the goods if so authorised by the cargo owners. This condition would involve the revocation of the first three Plaintiffs' authority to deal with the 30 FCL containers. Prolink thus sought and obtained powers of attorney from some of the cargo interests revoking the first three Plaintiffs' authority and appointing Prolink Logistics and/or PT Prolink Clare as attorney to deal with the 30 FCL containers instead. The powers of attorney were only executed between 14 October 2009 and 13 November 2009.

As at 19 November 2009, some of the cargo (‘the Group A Cargo’) was released. The remaining cargo owners repeatedly asked the Defendant to provide the claim amount of charges and expenses so that they could consider payment of monies into court in lieu of the Defendant withholding their goods. No figure was forthcoming. The fourth to 16th Plaintiffs (‘the Group B Plaintiffs’) were amongst the cargo interests who had not revoked the first three Plaintiffs' authority and thus had not obtained their cargo, and they were joined to the action on 25 January 2010.

The Defendant denied liability alleging, inter alia, that (a) it was an innocent agent who acted in good faith in relation to the 30 FCL containers, and the named consignee appointed by Prolink to receive, handle customs clearance and store the 30 FCL containers; and (b) the detention of the 30 FCL containers was in lawful exercise of a possessory lien. In addition, the Defendant claimed that the Plaintiffs' claims were tainted with illegality. Relying on the discrepancy between the actual goods in the 30 FCL containers and goods as declared on the February B/Ls, the Defendant alleged from the outset that the first three Plaintiffs were engaged in an ‘unlawful adventure’ to smuggle the containers into Indonesia without paying customs duty. At the time judgment was given, the Defendant was still in possession of goods consolidated in three FCL containers (‘the Group B Cargo’).

Held, allowing the claim:

(1) To succeed in a claim for conversion, a plaintiff had to show that: (a)it had actual possession of, or the right to immediate possession of the chattel converted; and that (b)the right to sue for conversion existed at the time of the conversion; and that (c)the defendant acted in a manner inconsistent with the plaintiff's superior possessory title: at [42].

(2) The right to immediate possession arose from the existence of a legal relationship of bailor and bailee as a matter of general principle of law on bailment. The first three Plaintiffs as head bailees under the agreement with their customers were entitled, if not obliged, to protect and preserve the February shipment. By reason of the unauthorised switch of consignee to the Defendant, the sub-bailment ended and the right of possession to the bailed property re-vested in the first three Plaintiffs: at [53], [56] and [57].

(3) The Defendant had a bare possessory title. It could retain the goods until a party with a superior interest asked for the goods. Being the named consignee on a bill of lading merely gave the Defendant a contractual right to obtain delivery of the containers vis-à-vis the carrier. The first three Plaintiffs had a possessory title superior to the Defendant's bare possessory title to the 30 FCL containers: at [59], [60] and [61].

(4) The goods were paid for and the Group B Plaintiffs had proprietary title to those goods. In...

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 cases
  • Aero-Gate Pte Ltd v Engen Marine Engineering Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2013
    ...Ltd v Comfort Resources Pte Ltd [2009] 4 SLR (R) 602; [2009] 4 SLR 602 (folld) Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd v Mc Trans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd [2012] 4 SLR 250 (distd) Astea (UK) Ltd v Time Group Ltd [2007] Lloyd's Rep PN 21 (distd) Barclays Bank Ltd v Quistclose Investments Ltd [1970] AC 567 (ref......
  • Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd and others v Nurdian Cuaca and others
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 March 2017 the 2009 Suit In her grounds of decision released on 30 July 2012 (Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd and others v McTrans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd [2012] 4 SLR 250 (“Ang J’s decision”)), Belinda Ang Saw Ean J first stated at [44] that to succeed in a claim for conversion, the plaintiff must show that......
  • Aries Telecoms (M) Bhd v ViewQwest Pte Ltd (Fiberail Sdn Bhd, third party)
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 March 2019
    ...years before. The demand in Schwarzchild can be compared with that in Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd and others v McTrans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd [2012] 4 SLR 250, where the letter of demand in question stated (at [91]): unless we receive your confirmation by 3.00 pm today (12 October 2009) that you......
  • Lakshmi Anil Salgaocar v Vivek Sudarshan Khabya
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 May 2017
    ...(Pte) Ltd v Haridass Ho & Partners [2003] 2 SLR(R) 491; [2003] 2 SLR 491 (refd) Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd v McTrans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd [2012] 4 SLR 250 (folld) Atkinson, Re [1971] VR 612 (refd) Black Swan Investments ISA v Harvest View Ltd BVIHCV 2009/399 (refd) Caudle v LD Law Ltd [2008] ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Tort Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2012, December 2012
    • 1 December 2012 Kenso against her together with interest and costs. 24.19 The decision in Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd v McTrans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd[2012] 4 SLR 250 (‘Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd’) involved a claim in conversion in respect of certain cargo in a shipment. The first three plaintiffs, companie......
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal Nbr. 2014, December 2014
    • 1 December 2014
    ...Sweet & Maxwell, 20th Ed, 2010) at paras 17–74 and 17–77 refers to this as an exception to strict liability. 2[2009] 4 SLR(R) 1101. 3[2012] 4 SLR 250. 4Kuwait Airways Corp v Iraqi Airways Co (Nos 4 and 5)[2002] UKHL 19 at [42]; [2002] 2 AC 883 at 1084, [42], per Lord Nicholls: Mere possessi......
  • Contract Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2012, December 2012
    • 1 December 2012
    ...illegality defence was also unsuccessfully pleaded in the High Court decision of Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd v McTrans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd[2012] 4 SLR 250 (‘Antariksa Logistics’). In this case, the plaintiffs had sued the defendant for conversion of goods to which the plaintiffs had better po......

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