Lam Soon Cannery Company v Hooper & Company

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date21 December 1965
Date21 December 1965
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 110 of 1964

[1965] SGFC 10

Federal Court

Wee Chong Jin CJ

,

Tan Ah Tah FJ

and

Ong Hock Thye FJ

Civil Appeal No 110 of 1964

Lam Soon Cannery Co
Plaintiff
and
Hooper & Co
Defendant

J Grimberg (Drew & Napier) for the appellant

C L Duff (Donaldson & Burkinshaw) for the respondent.

Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap 2, 1955Rev Ed)s 23 (c)

Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Ordinance (Cap 18, 1955Rev Ed)ss 3 (1), 3 (2), 8 (1) (consd);s 3 (4)

Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Rules (GN No S 122 of 1938)r 9 (1) (consd);rr 1, 2,7

Rules of the Supreme Court (UK) O 41Ar 12

Civil Procedure–Foreign judgments–Judgment obtained in England being registered in Singapore–Application to set aside registration–Factors to consider in determining whether registration should be set aside–Whether judge had correctly exercised discretion in refusing application to set aside registration–Sections 3 (1), 3 (2), 8 (1) Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Ordinance (Cap 18, 1955 Rev Ed)–Statutory Interpretation–Construction of statute–Subsidiary legislation–Rule 9 of Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Rules (GN No S 122 of 1938) rendering provisions of s 3 (1) Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Ordinance (Cap 18, 1955 Rev Ed) nugatory–Whether r 9 ultra vires–Proper interpretation of r 9

The respondent obtained an arbitration award in England against the appellant and converted it into an order of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in England (“the judgment”). The respondent applied to register the judgment in Singapore under s 8 (1) of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Ordinance (Cap 18, 1955 Rev Ed) (“the Ordinance”). The judge at first instance granted the respondent's application, and the respondent registered the judgment in the Singapore court. The appellant subsequently applied to set aside the registration. The High Court judge dismissed the application on the basis that the appellant had not proved any of the grounds provided under s 3 (2) of the Ordinance. In arriving at his decision, the High Court judge did not consider the question of whether it was “in all the circumstances of the case” just and convenient to enforce the English judgment in Singapore, as provided under s 3 (1) of the Ordinance, as he felt bound by r 9 of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Rules (GN No S 122 of 1938) to restrict his inquiry to the grounds set out in s 3 (2) of the Ordinance. The appellant appealed against the decision of the High Court judge.

Held, allowing the appeal and setting aside the registration of the judgment:

(1) Under s 23 (c) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap 2, 1955 Rev Ed), no subsidiary legislation made under an Ordinance could be inconsistent with the provisions of any Ordinance. Rule 9 (1) was ultra vires as it rendered the provisions of s 3 (1) of the Ordinance nugatory. Rule 9 (1) could not have the effect of denying the judge the discretion vested in him by s 3 (1) of the Ordinance: at [34] and [36].

(2) The High Court judge had wrongly exercised his discretion in failing to consider “all the circumstances of the case” in determining whether it was just and convenient to allow registration of the judgment. The judge ought to have taken into account the fact that the appellant had breached the terms of the contract at the respondent's behest. It lied ill in the mouth of the respondent to take advantage of its own wrongdoing at the expense of the innocent party: at [37] and [38].

Ong Hock Thye FJ

1 This appeal raises questions of some complexity and difficulty. It is an appeal against a decision of the High Court in Singapore, given on 9 November 1964 dismissing an application by the appellants to set aside an order of the court in Singapore, made on 31 March 1964, that a judgment recovered by the respondents against the appellants in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in England be registered in the Singapore court under the provisions of s 8 (1) of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Ordinance (Cap 18, 1955 Rev Ed). The sum involved is 39,862.10.5, equivalent to $340,538.56, and costs. The judgment registered had been obtained in England in proceedings making an arbitration award an order of the Queen's Bench.

2 The facts, or so much thereof as the learned judge considered to be material for the purposes of the application before him, were succinctly stated by him as follows:

For the purposes of this application, it is, I think, unnecessary for me to embark upon a detailed analysis of the facts involved in the arbitration proceedings except to observe that there were three contracts for the sale of a quantity of copra belonging to the applicants by Hooper & Co. The applicants were clearly in breach of contract in that they submitted false bills of lading indicating shipment in May 1951 when in fact the goods were shipped in June 1951. Hooper & Co had sold the copra to a firm “N” which in turn sold it to a firm “B” which in turn sold the whole or part of it to a firm “A”. (I think that for the purposes of this judgment it is unnecessary to set out their full names.) As a natural consequence of the discovery of the false documents there were proceedings which “boomeranged” from “A” to “B”, from “B” to “N” and then from “N” to Hooper & Co. On their view of the contract, Hooper & Co considered that they were entitled to be recompensed by the applicants for such losses as they had been required to bear.

3 As will appear later in this judgment, the question whether, “in all the circumstances of the case” the Singapore court “thinks it is just and convenient” that the English judgment should be enforced here, will have to be exhaustively canvassed. A more detailed statement of the material facts in the history and background of this case would, therefore, be necessary unless the merits of the application of these appellants are to be restricted purely to questions of law, as Winslow J appears to have limited himself in dealing with the application. I shall accordingly recite the relevant facts, adding those which had been passed over.

4 In the affidavit dated 20 April 1964 of Mr Whang Tar Choung, a partner of Lam Soon Cannery Co, he had recounted the events that took place. I shall confine myself to the statements of fact which are not open to dispute. Early in 1951 the appellants had entered into three contracts, numbers 51/1201, 51/1202 and 51/1219, for the sale of [respectively] 500, 500 and 300 tons of copra for the gross price of 148,100, in each case less 2%. The appellants had in hand at all relevant times the goods to be shipped against these contracts...

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4 cases
  • Sim Cheng Soon v BT Engineering Pte Ltd and Another
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 16 November 2006
    ...... (see also the Singapore Federal Court decision of Lam Soon Cannery Co v Hooper & Co [1965] 2 MLJ 148 and the Malaysian Court of Appeal ......
  • Madihill Development Sdn Bhd v Sinesinga Sdn Bhd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 October 2011
    ...Kai Neo [1932] MLJ 76 (folld) Lam Soon Cannery Co v H W Hooper & Co [1965] MLJ 135 (folld) Lam Soon Cannery Co v Hooper & Co [1965-1967] SLR (R) 149; [1965-1968] SLR 76 (refd) Liao Eng Kiat v Burswood Nominees Ltd [2004] 4 SLR (R) 690; [2004] 4 SLR 690 (refd) Owens Bank Ltd v Bracco......
  • Bank of India v Trans Continental Commodity Merchants Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 16 October 1981
    ...... which the Plaintiffs, the Bank of India, an Indian company with an office in London, claimed damages from the first ......
  • Bank of India v Trans Continental Commodity Merchants Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 24 March 1986
    ...v Ebrahim [1982] 2 Lloyd's Rep 11 (refd) Connolly v Consumers Cordage Co89 LTR 347 (distd) Lam Soon Cannery Co v Hooper & Co [1965-1967] SLR (R) 149; [1965-1968] SLR 76 (refd) Ralli v Angullia (1917) 15 SSLR 33 (distd) Sharif v Azad [1967] 1 QB 605 (refd) United City Merchants (Investme......

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