Keppel Bus Co Ltd v Sa'ad bin Ahmad

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date31 July 1972
Neutral Citation[1972] SGCA 6
Citation[1972] SGCA 6
Plaintiff CounselKE Hilborne (Hilborne & Co)
Defendant CounselHE Cashin (Murphy & Dunbar)
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 14 of 1971

The respondent, Sa`ad bin Ahmad, while travelling as a fare-paying passenger on a bus operated by the appellants, Keppel Bus Co, was struck on the left eye with a ticket punch by the bus conductor. He sued the appellants and the bus conductor for damages for personal injuries and consequent loss and expense caused by this assault and battery.

The bus conductor conducted his own defence and in his statement of defence claimed that the injury caused to the respondent was accidental and was caused while defending himself from a blow by the respondent. The appellants, while admitting they employed the bus conductor, denied liability on the ground that the assault was not within the scope of the bus conductor`s authority and was an independent act unconnected with his employment. Alternatively, the appellants pleaded volenti non fit injuria, alleging that the injury was caused by the bus conductor in the course of defending himself from a blow by the respondent.

At the conclusion of the trial, the trial judge gave judgment for the respondent against the appellants and the bus conductor and awarded the respondent $20,290 damages and costs. The appellants now appeal and as one of the grounds of appeal is that the judgment was against the weight of the evidence it is necessary to set out the facts in some detail.

The respondent said that as the bus was travelling along Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim towards Jurong he was seated nearer the rear portion on a seat next to the central aisle. A Malay woman who was seated two seats in front of him also next to the aisle wanted to alight and was told by the conductor in a harsh tone to wait near the door of the bus. On hearing this he told the conductor the woman might fall but the conductor resented this intrusion and abused him. By then the bus had stopped and the Malay woman had alighted. On being abused he got up from his seat, touched the conductor, who was standing in front of him, on the shoulder, and told the conductor not to abuse him. The conductor continued to abuse him with the same words of abuse and blows were exchanged. He was unable to remember who struck the first blow. Some of the passengers intervened and he sat down with the conductor still standing in front of him. When he was so seated something hard hit the sun glasses he was then wearing, breaking the glass over the left eye and a broken piece of the glass entered his left eye eventually causing him to lose the sight of that eye.

A passenger, Mohamed Daud, gave evidence for the respondent. Mohamed Daud said he was seated behind the respondent and heard a Malay woman telling the conductor she wanted to alight and the conductor telling her to go and wait by the door of the bus. He then heard the respondent, who was seated, telling the conductor, who was standing in front of the respondent, that it was dangerous to tell the woman passenger to wait by the door of the bus. The conductor asked the respondent what he wanted and the respondent replied he would report the conductor to his employers. Then, while the Malay woman was still seated the conductor threw a punch at the respondent which missed. Soon after, the bus stopped at a bus stop and the Malay woman alighted from the bus. After she had alighted Mohamed Daud heard the conductor abusing...

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