Kenso Leasing Pte Ltd v Hoo Hui Seng
|Loo Ngan Chor
|23 August 2010
| SGMC 8
|Magistrates' Court (Singapore)
|MAC No 8807 of 2010 X
|30 August 2010
|14 July 2010,05 July 2010
|Parwani (Parwani & Co)
|Johnny Seah (Seah & Co)
| SGMC 8
The plaintiff sells parallel imported cars and provides financing related to the business of trading in motor vehicles.
In this suit, the plaintiff claims damages against the defendant for conversion.
The defendant had on or about 7th September 2008 agreed to buy from a company called Koh Brothers Automobile Pte Ltd a motor car of the Honda Freed model for $62,998.00. The defendant paid Koh Brothers a deposit of $2000.00. While the defendant also said he paid a sum of $8670.75 to Koh Brothers towards the purchase of the car, he admitted that the payment of that sum by cheque was made to an employee of Koh Brothers. In a letter dated 11th March 2009 from the defendant’s lawyers to Koh Brothers, no reference was made to the payment of that sum. There is ample basis for me to infer that this was because it was accepted that the sum of $8670.75 was never received by Koh Brothers towards the purchase of the car.
Between the defendant and Koh Brothers, it was agreed that Koh Brothers would secure for the defendant a temporary certificate of entitlement (“TCOE”). Separately, unknown to the defendant at that time, Koh Brothers agreed with the plaintiff that the latter would bid for the TCOE and paid the plaintiff $500 towards the plaintiff’s efforts.
On or about 8th October 2008, the plaintiff successfully obtained a TCOE in category A in the defendant’s name whereupon a sum of $10,000.00 was deducted from the bank account of the plaintiff. The plaintiff was therefore out of pocket $9500, taking into account the sum of $500 that Koh Brothers had paid them.
Koh Brothers never delivered the car to the defendant in spite of the defendant’s reminders, although they informed the defendant in early October 2008 that they, not mentioning the plaintiff, had secured TCOE for the defendant. Under cross-examination, the defendant accepted this fact.
The defendant decided to purchase a motor car of the same model from another vendor. On or about 26th March 2009, the defendant used the TCOE secured in his name for the purpose of this other car that he purchased.
Prior 26th March 2009, the defendant had been informed of the plaintiff’s claim that they had been the ones who obtained and paid for the TCOE. The plaintiff had written to the defendant on 10th March 2009 making that claim. That claim was confirmed by Koh Brothers’ separate letter dated 25th March 2009 to the defendant, although the defendant said that he received this letter only after he had put the TCOE to his own use. It should be noted (see [10(1)] below) that the defendant’s knowledge in this regard is irrelevant to the tort of conversion.
It is not disputed that the TCOE would have expired on 14th April 2009. If this had come to pass, the TCOE would have been of no use to anyone although the plaintiff said that it is possible to obtain an extension of time for the TCOE, within which time they could obtain a court order for the TCOE to be transferred to themselves. I consider that this too is an irrelevant fact in this suit. Apart from the fact that the plaintiff’s allegations were not verified at trial, the TCOE was a thing of value as at on or about 26th March 2009 when the defendant put it to use for his new car.
Although it has been stated that “conversion at common law may be committed in so many different ways that any comprehensive definition is probably impossible” and “Any corporeal, movable property may be converted.” (see Winfield & Jolowicz on Tort, 17th edition, paragraph 17-6), a practical exposition of conversion is stated in Halsbury’s Laws of England, Volume 45, paragraph 1422. It is there stated that the tort of conversion, which is of “goods”, takes one of three forms:
The plaintiff’s case is that the alleged conversion is of the first form.
In the district court case of
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