Lirushanan Jaya Sangar v Lam Hong Leong Aluminium Pte Ltd

JudgeDaniel Koh Poh Leong
Judgment Date19 January 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 19
Published date19 September 2003
Citation[2001] SGDC 19
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)


Grounds of Decision


1 Both the appeals arose out of the plaintiffs’ summary judgment applications heard together before deputy registrar Lau Wing Yum (as he was then). The plaintiffs Kirushnan Jaya Sangar (in RA 71 of 2000X) and Kannaiah Jaya Raman (in RA 72 of 2000X) were foreign workers who were in the employ of the defendants for about 3-1/2 years. They are claiming for their outstanding wages owed by the defendants to them.

2 As the facts and issues in both the matters are similar, for convenience, both the counsel agreed that their arguments raised before me in RA 71 of 2000X apply mutatis mutandis to that in RA 72 of 2000X. Counsel for both parties also agreed that the decision made for RA 71 of 2000X would also bind the outcome of the appeal in RA 72 of 2000X; accordingly with the consent of both parties, RA72 of 2000X was stood down.

MC 11880 of 2000/M

3 The writ action by Kirushnan Jaya Sangar against the defendants was taken out in 15th July 2000. The defendants filed their defence to deny the claims and submitted a counterclaim of their own against plaintiff.

4 At the Order 14 hearing, based on the admissions made by the defendants, the plaintiff succeeded to enter only partial judgment for the sum of $4,472.70. The total partial judgment awarded to the plaintiff comprised of:

(a) deductions from his monthly salary, amounting to $3,510/-

(b) wages of $804.10 for work performed on Sundays

(c) unpaid salary of $32.60

(d) wages of $126 for work performed on public holidays

5 The defendants were given unconditional leave to defend the balance of the claim which amounted to $2,211.80. In similar fashion, Kanniah Jayaraman the plaintiff in the connected suit succeeded before the deputy registrar for the sum of $3,599.50 based on the defendants’ admissions and leave was given to defend the balanced sum of $2,960.30.

The Appeal

6 The defendants appealed against the learned registrar’s decision for refusing to allow set-off or alternatively, a stay of execution of the defendants’ claim against both the plaintiffs. They felt that it was unjust for the plaintiffs to obtain summary judgments without provision for the defendants to contest their counterclaims against the plaintiffs. The defendants said that the court ought not to have allowed partial judgments to be entered but to grant unconditional leave to defend as there was a bona fide set-off in the respective actions.

7 At the Registrar’s Appeal hearing before me on 29th November 2000, I affirmed the decisions of the deputy registrar. Subsequently, the defendants applied for leave to appeal against my decisions which I refused. The defendants nevertheless succeeded to obtain leave from the High Court to proceed with their appeals against the O.14 hearing judgments in both matters.

The Defendant’s counterclaim

8 The defendants’ counterclaim against the plaintiff Kirushnan comprises the following:

(i) a sum of $195.60 as payment in lieu of notice of resignation, under S.10(3)(c) of the Employment Act (EA), Cap 91.

(ii) a liquidated sum of $2,000/- for a trade course which plaintiff attended whilst in defendant’s employ.

9 It was alleged that the plaintiff has breached the requirement to give 2 weeks’ notice and was therefore liable to pay 2 weeks’ wages in lieu of notice. As for the liquidated damages, it was submitted by counsel that the plaintiff signed an agreement to pay for the liquidated damages incurred by the defendants for the trade course attended.

10 Accordingly, the defendants contended that they are entitled to a legal or equitable set-off in respect of these sums; alternatively a stay of execution up to the amount of the defendants’ counterclaim.

The Plaintiff’s Case

11 In the plaintiff’s affidavit he contested his liability under the counterclaim. He alleged that the defendants had by their conduct precipitated him to terminate his contract of employment with them on 19 May 2000. As much as 9 other workers left the defendants on the same day. The plaintiff cited three reasons (which he stated in his resignation letter to the defendants) that led him to terminate his contract of employment:-

(i) The defendants made unauthorized deductions from his monthly salary. Counsel for the plaintiff pointed out that this was in breach of S.26 EA which reads:

"No deductions other than deductions authorized under the provisions of this Act shall be made an employer from the salary of an employee unless they are required to be made by order of court or other authority competent to make such order."

(ii) Defendants provided him with poor standard of accommodation.

(iii) He was in fear of wrongful...

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