Eng Lye Hup Co Ltd v Chua Sai Choo and Another

JudgeJ W D Ambrose J
Judgment Date16 February 1968
Neutral Citation[1968] SGFC 2
Subject MatterNegligence,Evidence,Onus of proof,Fault of omission,Breach of duty,Tort,Applicable test,Proof of evidence
Published date19 September 2003
Defendant CounselJohn Pillai (Williams & Co)
Citation[1968] SGFC 2
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Plaintiff CounselCS Wu (Donaldson & Burkinshaw)

The appellants are the employers of the deceased, on behalf of whose estate the respondents, as administratrix and co-administrator, commenced an action in the High Court of Singapore claiming damages for the death of the deceased in an accident allegedly caused by the negligence of the appellants.

The evidence, which was never in dispute, before the trial judge was very meagre indeed. The facts that appear from the evidence are these. The deceased was at the time of the accident employed by the appellants as a mason having been so employed for two or three years. The appellants were at all material times general contractors, and at the time of the accident engaged in erecting and constructing an electricity sub-station at Toa Payoh, Singapore. The deceased`s duties included, inter alia, the erecting and constructing of brick walls of the electricity sub-station.

On 29 December 1965 the deceased was working on the roof of the sub-station which was then under construction having been working on that roof for the past ten days. To gain access to the roof top he had first to get on to the roof of a building described as a battery room. The height of this building was ten feet and the roof was a flat roof, the surface of which was tarred. The means of access used by the deceased from the ground to the flat roof of the battery room was a free-standing wooden ladder. From the roof of the battery room the deceased used a similar ladder to get on to the roof of the sub-station. The roof of the sub-station was nine feet above the roof of the battery room and the distance between the two buildings was five feet at ground level and merely two feet from roof-eave to roof-eave.

On the day in question, as was his usual practice, the deceased was climbing down the ladder leading from the roof of the sub-station to the roof of the battery room, on the first stage of his journey to the ground to have his midday meal, when he fell off this ladder through the space between the two buildings on to the concrete floor at ground level, a fall of about 15 feet having regard to the fact that the evidence is that he was less than half way down the ladder when he fell. Unfortunately the fall was a fatal one.

There was no eyewitness who saw the actual fall but a witness, a fellow employee with the deceased, testified that he saw the deceased climbing down the ladder immediately before the fall. He had after seeing the deceased starting his descent down the ladder turned away towards...

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