Ng Cheng Ho v Tan Ek Seng and Another

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date16 April 1969
Date16 April 1969
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No Y1 of 1969

[1969] SGFC 4

Federal Court

Wee Chong Jin CJ

,

Tan Ah Tah FJ

and

Choor Singh J

Civil Appeal No Y1 of 1969

Ng Cheng Ho
Plaintiff
and
Tan Ek Seng and another
Defendant

Ng Kian Fong (Director of Legal Aid) for the appellant

C S Wu (Donaldson & Burkinshaw) for the respondents.

Colfar v Coggins & Griffith (Liverpool) Ltd [1945] AC 197; [1945] 1 All ER 326 (refd)

Tort–Negligence–Breach of duty–Appellant employed by second respondent as lorry attendant–Appellant falling off moving lorry while working at back of lorry–Whether second respondent in breach of duty to take reasonable care to provide reasonably safe system of work–Whether appellant discharged burden of proof in relation to breach of duty and causation

The appellant was employed by the second respondent to load sand from a sand-pit on to a lorry and to accompany the loaded lorry to its destination. At the material time, he was the attendant of a lorry belonging to the second respondent, which was being driven by the first respondent. The appellant fell off the back of the lorry and sustained injury. He sued both respondents, alleging that the accident was caused by their negligence and/or breach of statutory duty. The appellant gave evidence that he had fallen off while the lorry was in motion and while he was standing at the back of lorry levelling sand. He agreed that he would not have fallen off had he held on to the railing provided for the attendant at the back of the lorry or sat down on the sand.

The trial judge found that the accident was due to the appellant's sole negligence. He accepted the respondents' evidence that it was not the appellant's duty to level the sand while the lorry was in motion. He also found that the appellant would not have fallen off had he held on to the railing or sat down on the sand. The appellant appealed, contending that the respondents had breached their common law duty to take reasonable care to provide a reasonably safe system of work.

Held, dismissing the appeal:

(1) The appeal could not succeed against the first respondent who was a fellow employee and not the employer of the appellant: at [8].

(2) One aspect of the common law duty of a master to his servant was to take reasonable care to provide a reasonably safe system of work. The mere happening of an accident did not show that anyone had been negligent or that there was any defect in the system of working. A servant who sued his master had to allege and prove...

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