Hong Cheng Air-Conditioning Engineering Pte Ltd v Wee Siong Engineering Services Pte Ltd

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChoo Han Teck J
Judgment Date07 March 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGHC 51
Citation[2003] SGHC 51
Published date05 May 2004
Plaintiff CounselRonnie Tan (Central Chambers Law Corporation)
Defendant CounselMichael S. Chia and Jonathan K.C. Ow (Sankar Ow & Partners)
Subject MatterContract,Variation,Parties entering into lump sum contract,Later agreement varying terms of contract,Interpretation of variation agreement,Whether plaintiff entitled to claim balance of original contract.

1 This is a construction claim in respect of materials supplied and services rendered by the plaintiff against the defendant in a Housing and Development Board building project at Yishun Industrial Park B. The Housing and Development Board is not involved in this litigation.

2 The plaintiff was engaged by the defendant to provide labour as well as materials for the complete mechanical ventilation work. The main contractors were Koh Brothers Building and C.E. Contractor Pte Ltd. They are also not involved in this litigation. The defendant was their subcontractor who, in turn, engaged the plaintiff as its subcontractor.

3 The plaintiff’s claim against the defendant was for a sum of $538,568.52 being the balance of $730,000 which was the original contract sum. The defendant demurred that the plaintiff had not performed the contract and was therefore not entitled to payment. It further asserted that by reason of the plaintiff’s failure to perform the contract the defendant had to carry out the work itself. This resulted in the additional costs of $37,140.64 which the defendant counterclaimed against the plaintiff. In addition to this sum, the defendant also claimed liquidated damages at $100 a day from 16 June 2001 to 7 February 2002. The defendant also claimed a sum of $1,861.42 being “administrative charges”.

4 When the trial commenced before me, the pleadings from both parties were totally inconsistent with the opening statements of counsel. The statement of claim then was a mere two-paragraph statement to the effect that the plaintiff was claiming money due from the defendant for services rendered at the defendant’s request. The case that the plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Tan, sought to make out at trial was more complicated than that. The defence and counterclaim complicated issues because of its reference to a contract made up of several documents of various dates. There was, in short, no consensus as to what was in fact the contract in question. Counsel then applied to amend their respective pleadings and the trial resumed after they had amended their respective cases.

5 The cases for the plaintiff and defendant respectively were nonetheless presented more complicatedly than they should. In order that the true issues can be appreciated, it is important to first ascertain what the original contract was. Following oral negotiations between Mr Ho, the managing director of the plaintiff and Mr Ng Chee Wee, the managing director of the defendant, the plaintiff submitted a quotation dated 19 September 2000 to the defendant. This quotation was signed by Madam Wee Bee Hua, a director of the defendant. She is also the wife of Mr Ng Chee Wee. After her signature she added the following words in her own hand:

“We accept this quotation S$730,000 exclude 3% GST as a lump sum contract based on the drawing No. 85, 86, 87, 88. We will temporarily sign on your quotation & kindly wait for our work, contract agreement & work schedule.” (sic)

6 After that, the defendant sent a works order dated 1 November 2000 to the plaintiff incorporating all that was set out in the plaintiff’s quotation. This became known as the “first works order”. In addition to that works order the defendant attached a set of its own terms and conditions of contract. The defendant maintained at the trial that the contract between the plaintiff and defendant “included” the defendant’s terms and conditions. In my view, it does not. The plaintiff’s quotation of 19 September 2000 was a document capable of forming a valid and complete contract if accepted. That was done by Madam Wee’s signature in affirmation. The defendant disputed such a contract because it was written by...

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1 cases
  • Sports Connection Pte Ltd v Deuter Sports Gmbh and Another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 May 2007
    ...in the amount of $80,000. Citing the decision in Hong Cheng Air-Conditioning Engineering Pte Ltd v Wee Siong Engineering Services Pte Ltd [2003] SGHC 51 (“Hong Cheng”), Mr Shahiran submitted that costs ordered should be somewhere between $2,500 and $3,500. This was because the case against ......

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