Jurong Port Pte Ltd v Huationg Inland Transport Service Pte Ltd

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeWoo Bih Li J
Judgment Date26 June 2009
Neutral Citation[2009] SGHC 145
Citation[2009] SGHC 145
Subject MatterWhether clauses were clear enough to require defendant to indemnify plaintiff for liability arising from negligence by plaintiff's own employee,Plaintiff and defendant agreeing to construction contract,Indemnity clauses,Plaintiff alleging defendant agreed to indemnify plaintiff from liability arising from negligence by plaintiff's employees pursuant to certain clauses in contract,Contract,Contractual terms
Defendant CounselPatrick Chin (Chin Patrick & Co)
Docket NumberDC Suit No 2876 of 2007 (Registrar's Appeal No 23 of 2009)
Plaintiff CounselLoo Dip Seng and Leong Lu Yuan (Ang & Partners)
Published date30 June 2009
Date26 June 2009

26 June 2009

Woo Bih Li J:

1 This indemnity claim turned on the construction of several clauses in a contract between the parties. On or about 3 December 2005, an accident occurred at the port facility of the plaintiff/appellant (“the plaintiff”). This resulted in the tragic death of an employee of the defendant/respondent (“the defendant”), a prime mover driver. It was agreed that the death of the defendant’s employee was caused by or was the result of the negligence of an employee of the plaintiff. The estate of the prime mover driver made a claim against the plaintiff who settled the claim by paying $150,000 as damages and $23,358.75 as costs. The plaintiff then brought an action in the Subordinate Courts claiming the sums of $150,000 and $23,358.75 against the defendant relying on an alleged indemnity pursuant to a contract entered between the plaintiff and defendant on 14 April 2004. The plaintiff then applied by Summons No 4584 of 2008 and obtained an order for the determination of certain issues as preliminary issues. Subsequently, a deputy registrar ruled in favour of the plaintiff on the preliminary issues and the defendant appealed successfully before a district judge in Registrar’s Appeal No 174 of 2008 (Jurong Port Pte Ltd v Huationg Inland Transport Service Pte Ltd [2009] SGDC 57). The plaintiff then brought an appeal to the High Court.

2 Before me, the plaintiff raised the following clauses of the contract for consideration:

CONDITIONS OF CONTRACT

13 INJURY TO PERSONS AND PROPERTY

(1) The Contractor shall be solely liable for and shall indemnify the Employer in respect of any liability, loss, claim or proceedings whatsoever arising under any statute or at common law in respect of personal injury to or the death of any person whomsoever arising out of or in the course of or caused by the execution of the Works.

(2) The Contractor shall be liable for and shall indemnify the Employer in respect of any liability, loss, claim or proceedings in respect of any injury or damage whatsoever to any properly [sic] real or personal in so far as such injury or damage rises out of or in the course of or by reason of the execution of the Works and provided always that the same is due to any negligence, omission or default of the Contractor, his servants or agents or of any sub-contractor or to any circumstances with the Contractor’s control.

(4) The Contractor shall before commencement of any work under this Contract ensure that there is in force a policy of insurance indemnifying the Employer, the Contractor and all sub-contractors against the aforesaid risks or matters. Such insurance shall be effect [sic] by the Contractor with such company or companies for such amount and on such terms as he shall in his discretion think fit. All policies shall be retained by the Superintending Officer.

SPECIFICATIONS

23 INDEMNITY

The Contractor shall be fully responsible for all injuries (fatal or otherwise) and loss or damages to properties including cargo and/or of the Employer’s property caused by the acts, defaults, omissions or negligence of the Contractor, their servants, or agents and the Employer shall be exempted from all liabilities for any injury, loss or damage arising directly or indirectly from the Contractor’s performance of the obligation under this Contract and the Contractor shall indemnify, defend and keep the Employer fully indemnified from and against all penalties, costs, claims, demands action and proceedings which may be made against the Employer or which the Employer may incur by reason of or in any way connected with this Contract. [I will refer to this paragraph as “Specification 23a”.]

The Contractor shall be fully responsible for any lost [sic], claim proceeding or demand in respect of personal injury to or death or any person arising out of or in the course of … or caused by or in any way connected with the performance of the obligations under this Contract and in respect of any damage or loss to any property real or personal whether belonging to the Employer or otherwise (including cargo and contents therein handled by the Contractor) arising out of or in the course of or in any way connected with the performance of the obligations under this Contract. [I will refer to this paragraph as “Specification 23b”.]

The Contractor shall be deemed to be the SOLE employer of the personnel supplied pursuant to this Contract and the Employer shall be exempted from all liabilities for any injury (fatal or otherwise) caused to any such personnel or to any other persons arising directly or indirectly from the performance of the obligations under this Contract and the Contractor must defend indemnify and save the Employer harmless. [I will refer to this paragraph as “Specification 23e”.]

26 INSURANCE

Without prejudice to the Contractor’s liabilities under this Contract, the Contractor shall insure themselves fully with a reputable insurer against all risks and liabilities relating to the operations and the provisions of Works...

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