New India Assurance Company Ltd v Lewis

CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date18 October 1966
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No Y10 of 1966
Date18 October 1966

[1966] SGFC 13

Federal Court

Wee Chong Jin CJ


Tan Ah Tah FJ


F A Chua J

Civil Appeal No Y10 of 1966

New India Assurance Co Ltd

G S Hill (Rodyk & Davidson) for the appellant

L A J Smith (L A J Smith) for the respondent.

Heyman v Darwins [1942] AC 356; [1942] 1 All ER 337 (folld)

Toller v Law Accident Insurance Society [1936] 2 All ER 952 (folld)

Arbitration Ordinance (Cap 10, 1955Rev Ed)s 8

Arbitration–Agreement–Construction of arbitration clause–Horse owner renewing insurance policy for horse–Insurer requiring veterinary certificate before renewal–Horse owner paying insurance premium without furnishing requisite certificate–Horse owner making insurance claim–Insurer denying claim–Whether policy of insurance in force in the first place–Whether dispute as to existence of insurance policy could be referred to arbitrator

The appellant issued to the respondents a policy of insurance on a horse. The policy contained an arbitration clause which provided that all disputes arising from the policy was to be resolved by arbitration. Prior to the expiry of the policy, the respondent paid a premium, purporting to renew it. The appellant, however, requested the respondent to furnish a veterinary certificate before the expiry of the policy in order to renew it.

However, the horse died after the expiry of the policy, but before it was examined by a veterinary surgeon. The respondent lodged a claim which the appellant denied on the ground that there was no policy in force at the time of the horse's death. The respondent proceeded to apply for an order for the appointment of an arbitrator. He argued that at the material time, there was a policy in existence since he had paid the premium and the appellant had accepted the payment. The appellant, on the other hand, contended that the acceptance of the premium and the issue of a new policy was conditional upon their receipt of the veterinary certificate. Since there was no such certificate, there was no insurance policy in force.

The trial judge granted the respondent's application as he regarded the matter as one that fell within the arbitration clause of the policy which called for the appointment of an arbitrator. The appellant appealed on the basis that until the issue of whether or not there was a policy of insurance in existence at all has been determined, there could be no justification for the appointment of an arbitrator. The respondent contended that the arbitration clause was...

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