Citiwall Safety Glass Pte Ltd v Mansource Interior Pte Ltd

JurisdictionSingapore
Judgment Date27 November 2014
Date27 November 2014
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 39 of 2014 (Summons No 1563 of 2014)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Citiwall Safety Glass Pte Ltd
Plaintiff
and
Mansource Interior Pte Ltd
Defendant

[2014] SGCA 61

Sundaresh Menon CJ

,

Chao Hick Tin JA

and

Steven Chong J

Civil Appeal No 39 of 2014 (Summons No 1563 of 2014)

Court of Appeal

Civil Procedure—Appeals—Leave—Judge granting respondent's application to set aside adjudication determination—Value of subject matter of appeal less than $250,000—Whether appellant's notice of appeal should be struck out because appellant did not first obtain leave to appeal—Whether any written law requiring application to set aside adjudication determination and/or judgment (‘s 27 judgment’) to be heard and determined by High Court—Whether High Court exercising its original jurisdiction in hearing and determining such application—Sections 27, 34 (2) (a) and 34 (2 A) Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 2007 Rev Ed) —Section 27 Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30 B, 2006 Rev Ed)

Civil Procedure—Appeals—Security for costs—Judge granting respondent's application to set aside adjudication determination—Paragraph 86 (2) Supreme Court Practice Directions (1 January 2013 release) specifying that appellant was required to provide security in sum of $15,000 for appeals against interlocutory orders and $20,000 for all other appeals—Whether appellant's notice of appeal should be struck out because appellant failed to provide $20,000 as security for costs—Whether order granting application to set aside adjudication determination was final order—Order 57 r 3 (3) Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed)

Courts and Jurisdiction—Jurisdiction—Original—Judge granting respondent's application to set aside adjudication determination—Whether appellant's notice of appeal should be struck out because appellant did not first obtain leave to appeal—Whether court exercising its supervisory jurisdiction in hearing application to set aside adjudication determination and/or s 27 judgment—Whether High Court was only court having supervisory jurisdiction—Whether High Court exercising its original jurisdiction in hearing and determining application to set aside adjudication determination and/or s 27 judgment—Sections 27, 34 (2) (a) and 34 (2 A) Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 2007 Rev Ed) —Section 27 Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30 B, 2006 Rev Ed) —Section 19 and 52 State Courts Act (Cap 321, 2007 Rev Ed)

An adjudication determination (‘AD’) was issued in favour of the appellant, Citiwall Safety Glass Pte Ltd (‘the Appellant’). The respondent, Mansource Interior Pte Ltd (‘the Respondent’), did not make payment to the Appellant in accordance with the AD (‘the Disputed AD’). The Appellant issued Originating Summons No 886 of 2013 (‘OS 886/2013’) against the Respondent seeking leave of court to enforce the Disputed AD as a judgment. The Appellant obtained an order of court granting it leave (‘the Leave Order’), and went on to enter judgment requiring the Respondent to make payment pursuant to the Disputed AD (‘the Disputed Judgment’).

The Respondent applied to the High Court to set aside the Disputed AD, the Leave Order and the Disputed Judgment. It failed at first instance before an assistant registrar, but was successful on appeal before a judicial commissioner of the Supreme Court (‘the Judge’). The Appellant filed a notice of appeal against the decision of the Judge, and filed its solicitors' certification that they had furnished an undertaking to hold the sum of $15,000 by way of security for the Respondent's costs of the appeal.

In response, the Respondent filed the present application, Summons No 1563 of 2014, to strike out the Appellant's notice of appeal on the grounds that: (a) the Appellant failed to obtain the requisite leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal as required under s 34 (2) (a) of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 2007 Rev Ed) (‘the SCJA’); and (b) the Appellant failed to provide the mandatory security required under O 57 r 3 (3) of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2014 Rev Ed) read with para 86 of the Supreme Court Practice Directions (1 January 2013 release) (‘the Practice Directions’).

The amount in dispute was $243,485.46. The Respondent argued that since the value of the subject matter of the appeal was less than $250,000, pursuant to s 34 (2) (a) of the SCJA, the Appellant was required to obtain leave from a High Court judge to appeal to the Court of Appeal. However, the Appellant argued that the requirement to obtain leave to appeal under s 34 (2) (a) of the SCJA did not apply by reason of s 34 (2 A) (c) of the SCJA, which provided that s 34 (2) (a) did not apply to any case heard and determined by the High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction pursuant to any written law which required that it be so heard and determined by the High Court. In response, the Respondent argued that s 34 (2 A) (c) applied only when the High Court was exercising its original jurisdiction, and not when it was exercising its supervisory jurisdiction.

Held, dismissing the application:

(1) There was no necessity to also apply to set aside a leave order granted under s 27 of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30 B, 2006 Rev Ed) (‘the SOPA’) (‘a s 27 leave order’) where the AD was itself set aside because the s 27 leave order would then have ceased to be effective. However, if a judgment under s 27 of the SOPA had been entered in the terms of an AD (‘a s 27 judgment’), it would be advisable in such circumstances for the debtor to apply to set aside both the AD and the s 27 judgment in order to extinguish its liability to the party seeking to enforce the AD: at [32] and [33] .

(2) There was no express statutory provision in either the SOPA or the Rules of Court which expressly stated that only the High Court could hear and determine an application to set aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment. Section 27 of the SOPA did not require an application for leave to enforce an AD to be heard and determined by the High Court, hence the word ‘court’ in s 27 was capable of referring to a Magistrate's Court, a District Court or the High Court according to the relevant and applicable jurisdictional limit in the case: at [34] and [35] .

(3) The court was exercising its supervisory jurisdiction in hearing and determining an application to set aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment. In hearing an application to set aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment, the court did not review the merits of the adjudicator's decision, and any setting aside had to be premised on issues relating to the jurisdiction of the adjudicator, a breach of natural justice or non-compliance with the SOPA. Applications to set aside ADs and/or s 27 judgments were thus akin to judicial review proceedings, and were not appeals on the merits of the adjudicator's decision. The court, in hearing such an application, was not solely concerned with the procedural propriety of the process by which the creditor obtained its s 27 leave order, such as whether the creditor made full and frank disclosure in its ex parte application for the s 27 leave order, because focusing only on the procedural propriety of the process by which the creditor obtained its s 27 leave order would not address the real concern of the debtor, which was to set aside the underlying AD and/or the s 27 judgment entered pursuant to that AD: at [41] , [48] , [49] and [51] .

(4) The remedy that was invoked in an application to set aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment was akin to a quashing order. However, unlike the regime relating to prerogative orders, the regime for setting aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment was provided for by statute in s 27 of the SOPA, and the procedure for making such a setting-aside application was separately provided for in O 95 of the Rules of Court. Order 53 of the Rules of Court, which concerned applications for prerogative orders, was thus not applicable to applications for the setting aside of an AD and/or a s 27 judgment. But, this did not entail the conclusion that the court was therefore not exercising its supervisory jurisdiction in hearing such setting-aside applications: at [50] .

(5) The High Court was the only court that had supervisory jurisdiction and, hence, it was the only court that had jurisdiction to hear and determine an application to set aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment. Section 27 (1) of the SCJA, which set out the ‘general supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction’ of the High Court, expressly provided that the High Court had ‘supervisory’ jurisdiction over ‘all subordinate courts’. In addition, the High Court had an ‘inherent’ supervisory jurisdiction over ‘inferior tribunals’. In contrast, s 19 (3) of the State Courts Act (Cap 321, 2007 Rev Ed) expressly stated that a District Court's jurisdiction did not include any supervisory jurisdiction. By virtue of s 52 (2) of the State Courts Act, a Magistrate's Court was subject to the same jurisdictional limits as those which apply to a District Court. Hence, supervisory jurisdiction was excluded from the jurisdiction of a Magistrate's Court. Since ss 19 (3) and 52 of the State Courts Act precluded the District Courts and the Magistrates' Courts from exercising any supervisory jurisdiction, these sections constituted written laws, the effect of which was to require that an application to set aside an AD and/or a s 27 judgment be heard and determined only by the High Court: at [52] to [55] , [58] and [59] .

(6) The High Court's supervisory jurisdiction over inferior tribunals and its original jurisdiction were not mutually exclusive; rather, the former was part of the latter: at [60] .

(7) The Respondent's argument that Parliament intended the High Court to have four different spheres of jurisdiction, namely, original, appellate, supervisory and revisionary, was not accepted because the heading ‘Supervisory and Revisionary...

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34 cases
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    • Singapore
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    ...the LPA. We are fortified in our reasoning by the decision of this court in Citiwall Safety Glass Pte Ltd v Mansource Interior Pte Ltd [2015] 1 SLR 797. There we had to consider whether the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court fell within its original civil jurisdiction that is stipul......
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1 firm's commentaries
6 books & journal articles
  • Litigation
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    • Construction Law. Volume III - Third Edition
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2014, December 2014
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