Digital Dispatch (ITL) Pte Ltd v Citycab Pte Ltd

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeJudith Prakash J
Judgment Date16 January 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGHC 6
Citation[2003] SGHC 6
Published date07 October 2003
Plaintiff CounselChan Kia Pheng with Alvin Chang (Khattar Wong & Partners)
Defendant CounselTan Cheng Yew with Ng Hweelon (Tan JinHwee, Eunice & Lim ChooEng)

1 This originating motion was filed by Digital Dispatch (ITL) Pte Ltd (‘Digital’) who is the claimant in an arbitration proceeding currently afoot between itself and Citycab Pte Ltd (‘Citycab’). The arbitrator, a senior lawyer, had made an interim award on 25 October 2002 whereby he decided, amongst other things, that he had jurisdiction in the arbitration to hear the claims put forward by Citycab under paragraphs 88(a) and (b) of its counterclaim. Digital filed this motion in order to obtain leave to appeal against that portion of the interim award. I granted the order sought by Digital and Citycab has now appealed.

Background

2 There is a rather complicated contractual relationship between the parties involving 2 contracts: first, a supply agreement dated 19 July 1995 and, secondly, a service agreement dated 19 March 1998. The original parties to the supply agreement were Citycab and Spectronics Micro Systems, which, due to a take-over subsequently became MDSI Mobile Data Solutions Ltd (‘MDSI’). The service agreement was originally made between MDSI and Citycab. Subsequently, MDSI was bought over by a Canadian company and renamed Digital Dispatch (Intl) Ltd (‘DDSUK’). Digital and DDSUK are part of the same group of companies and, accordingly, on 19 July 1999, a novation agreement was signed among DDSUK, Citycab and Digital whereby Digital took over from DDSUK as a party to the service agreement. The current situation is therefore that Citycab and Digital are parties to the service agreement and Citycab and DDSUK are parties to the supply agreement.

3 The arbitration was initiated by Digital pursuant to cl 28.1 of the service agreement which provided that ‘any dispute arising out of or in connection with this contract … shall be referred to arbitration in Singapore’. Digital has claimed arrears of maintenance charges due to it from Citycab and has also claimed damages for an alleged repudiatory breach by Citycab of the service agreement. The arbitration was commenced by way of Digital’s notice of arbitration dated 23 November 2001.

4 Digital filed its points of claim in the arbitration on 8 March 2002. Citycab filed its points of defence and counterclaim on 5 April 2002. It claimed damages for alleged breaches by Digital under the service agreement. In addition, it claimed damages resulting from alleged breaches of the supply agreement. These counterclaims are found at paragraphs 88(a) and (b) of the points of counterclaim.

5 On 5 July 2002, Digital made an application to the arbitrator for an order striking out paragraphs 88(a), (b), (d), (e), (f), (h) and (i) of Citycab’s counterclaim and for further consequential orders. This application was heard on 19 and 20 September 2002. The arbitrator published his interim award on 25 October 2002. In paragraph 7 of his award, the arbitrator noted that:

[Digital’s] application to strike out various claims in paragraph 48 of the counterclaim was essentially premised on the argument that those claims in the said paragraph 88 arose from disputes connected with Supply Agreement and not the Service Agreement. As [Digital] have no obligation under the Supply Agreement, those claims in paragraph 88 of the Respondents’ Counterclaim were misconceived as the Respondents should be making their claims against [DDSUK] pursuant to the Supply Agreement.

Rejecting Digital’s claim, the arbitrator refused to strike out paragraphs 88(a) and (b) on the basis that although those were counterclaims from the supply agreement, they had been transferred over into the service agreement pursuant to cl M of the service agreement.

6 Before me Digital contended that this conclusion was obviously wrong in law and it should be given leave to appeal against it.

Principle governing leave to appeal the decision of an arbitrator

7 The application is made pursuant to s 28(2) of the Arbitration Act (Cap 10) (‘the Act’) which governs domestic arbitrations. This section states that provided that either all other parties to the...

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