Chinese Chamber Realty Pte Ltd and Others v Samsung Corp

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeS Rajendran J
Judgment Date15 August 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGHC 189
Citation[2003] SGHC 189
Docket NumberSuit No 428 of 2003 (Registrar's
Subject MatterCivil Procedure,Order made granting leave to file summary judgment application without Defence being filed -Whether order proper,Inherent,Appropriate order to be made in circumstances,Whether inherent jurisdiction should be exercised where matter of procedure covered by Rules of Court,Jurisdiction,Rules of court,Order 14 r 1 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 1997 Rev Ed) provide for summary judgment application to be made only after Defence filed
Plaintiff CounselKoh Kok Wah, Gerald Ng and Daniel Chia (Wong & Leow LLC)
Published date03 October 2003
Date27 August 2003
Defendant CounselLatiff Ibrahim and Yeo Khung Chye (Harry Elias Partnership)

1 Until late 2002, a plaintiff could, upon the defendant entering appearance, apply under O 14 r 1 of the Rules of Court for summary judgment of part or whole of his claim against that defendant: O 14 r 1 did not, at that time, require the plaintiff to wait for the defence to be entered before making an application for summary judgment. This situation changed on 1 December 2002 when certain amendments to O 14 came into effect. The amended O 14 r 1 reads as follows:

Where a statement of claim has been served on a defendant and that defendant has served a defence to the statement of claim, the plaintiff may, on the ground that the defendant has no defence to a claim included in the writ, or to a particular part of such a claim, or has no defence to such a claim or part except as to the amount of any damages claimed, apply to the Court for judgment against that defendant.

As a result of the amendment (indicated in italics above) an application for summary judgment under O 14 may be made only after the defendant “has served a defence to the statement of claim”.

2 This amendment brought in its wake difficulties in relation to obtaining summary judgments under O 14 for contracts – particularly building contracts – which provided for disputes to be referred to arbitration. Despite the existence of such arbitration clauses the practice had developed for a plaintiff – such as a contractor or sub-contractor who had not been paid progress payments due under an Architect’s Certificate – to commence proceedings in the civil courts in order to obtain the benefit of a speedy judgment under O14. When such an action was commenced, the defendant – if he wished the matter to be heard by the arbitrator – would apply for a stay of proceedings on the grounds that the parties had contractually agreed to arbitration and that arbitration was the more appropriate mode for resolving the disputes. It was the practice – pre-December 2002 – for the O 14 application and the stay application to be heard together.

3 Under the amended O 14 provisions, however, the plaintiff would have to wait for the defendant to file his defence before applying for O 14 judgment but a defendant who wanted the dispute resolved by arbitration would not file his defence for fear that by so doing he would be deemed to have taken a step in the proceedings and thereby waived his rights to arbitration. To avoid that consequence, the defendant – as happened in this case – would have to apply for leave that he be allowed to file his defence only after the application for stay had been dealt with.

4 If the court granted the defendant’s application for leave to file the defence after the stay application had been dealt with, the plaintiff would not be able to apply for summary judgment under the amended O 14. The result would be that the stay application would be heard without the O 14 application being heard at the same time. In those circumstances, if the stay application were granted, the plaintiff would be precluded from making an O 14 application. It is only if the stay application was refused that the plaintiff, after the defendant files his defence, can proceed to apply for O 14 judgment.

5 That the courts would grant O 14 judgment even in cases where parties had contractually agreed to refer disputes to arbitration is clear from a number of decisions of the Singapore courts. I need refer to only one of these cases, namely, Aoki Corp v Lippoland (S) Pte Ltd [1995] 2 SLR 609 at 619 – a case which, as here, also involved the SIA form of building contracts – where Warren Khoo J stated the rationale for so doing as follows:

Clause 31.11 of the SIA conditions of contract provide, so far as relevant for present purposes, that no certificate of the architect shall be final and binding, but in the absence of fraud or improper pressure or interference by either party, full effect shall be given to all certificates of the architect, whether for payment or otherwise, until final judgment or award.

The object of these provisions of the contract is that certificates issued in the ordinary course by the architect are to be honoured, and that any challenge in relation to them should be referred for arbitration, although, as can be seen in the Tropicon case, where the circumstances are such that the legality or propriety of a certificate can be decided by reference to the terms of the contract and the circumstances in which it was issued, the court will not hesitate to deal with the matter even in summary judgement proceedings.

The case of Tropicon referred to by Khoo J was a reference to the decision in Lojan Properties Pte Ltd v Tropicon Contractors Pte Ltd [1991] SLR 80 where the Court of Appeal took a similar view.

6 The plaintiffs in the present case, Chinese Chamber...

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4 cases
  • Tan Ah Thee And Another (administrators of the estate of Tan Kiam Poh (alias Tan Gna Chua), deceased) v Lim Soo Foong
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 April 2009
    ...that deals with the exact situation at hand, except, perhaps, in the most exceptional cases. In Samsung Corp v Chinese Chamber Realty, [2003] 3 SLR 656, it was suggested that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court allowed the court to go against the clear words of the Rules. The High C......
  • Lian Teck Construction Pte Ltd v Woh Hup (Pte) Ltd and Others
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 6 July 2006
    ...(“the compromise order”). 14 As explained by S Rajendran J in the court below in Chinese Chamber Realty Pte Ltd v Samsung Corp [2003] 3 SLR 656 at 2 This amendment [to O 14 r 1] brought in its wake, difficulties in relation to obtaining summary judgments under O 14 for contracts – particula......
  • Lee Siew Ngug v Lee Brothers (Wee Kee) Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 April 2015
    ...from rules of court and statutory provisions offers useful guidance. In Chinese Chamber Realty Pte Ltd and others v Samsung Corp [2003] 3 SLR(R) 656, the plaintiffs wanted to apply for summary judgment against the defendant before the latter had filed its defence, contrary to the procedure ......
  • Tan Ah Thee And Another (administrators of the estate of Tan Kiam Poh (alias Tan Gna Chua), deceased) v Lim Soo Foong
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 April 2009
    ...that deals with the exact situation at hand, except, perhaps, in the most exceptional cases. In Samsung Corp v Chinese Chamber Realty, [2003] 3 SLR 656, it was suggested that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court allowed the court to go against the clear words of the Rules. The High C......

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