OCWS Logistics Pte Ltd v Soon Meng Construction Pte Ltd

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin J
Judgment Date21 November 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGHC 382
Citation[1998] SGHC 382
Subject MatterLegal set-off,Civil Procedure,Whether there can be set-off if sum is unliquidated and from different contract,Defences,Closely connected with subject matter,Pleadings,Equity,Liquidated sum to be ascertained at time of pleading,Same transaction,Equitable set-off,Unliquidated damages
Defendant CounselStephen Soh (Bernard Rada & Lee)
Date21 November 1998
Plaintiff CounselTan Joo Seng (Chan Tan & Partners)
Docket NumberDC Suit No 50715 of 1998
Published date19 September 2003


Pursuant to an agreement in July/August 1994 (`the 1994 contract`) the plaintiffs engaged the defendants as sub-contractors for the general repainting of certain buildings of the Ministry of Defence at Changi for a lump sum of $300,000. Under that contract the defendants were to obtain the supplies of materials from the plaintiffs and the latter were entitled to deduct the cost thereof from the contract sum. During the progress of the works, payments were made by the plaintiffs to the defendants. Upon completion of the contract, and on final computation, an amount of $144.458.65 was found to be owing from the defendants to the plaintiffs. This is not disputed by the defendants.

2.What the defendants claimed is that they have a defence of set-off which exceeds the $144,458.65 owed by them to the plaintiffs. This set-off arose under an agreement between the parties signed on 9 January 1995 (`1995 contract`) whereby the parties agreed to `work together and/or share resources for the purposes of carrying out sub-contracting works involving repainting and/or upgrading works.` Pursuant to the 1995 contract, works were undertaken and completed at three locations, namely, HDB Tampines site, HDB Bukit Panjang site and HDB Choa Chu Kang site. The defendants claimed that there is a sum of $397,969.95 due from the plaintiffs in respect of the works done in those three sites and sought to set it off against the sum of $144,458.65 due from them to the plaintiffs. In the alternative, the defendants counterclaimed for that sum.

3.However, the plaintiffs contended that under that 1995 contract not only is there nothing owed by them to the defendants, it is the defendants who are liable to pay to the plaintiffs to the tune of $925,772.25.

4.The plaintiffs applied for summary judgment in respect of their claim for $144,458.65 under the 1994 contract. The deputy registrar of the subordinate courts granted the application with no stay of execution pending the trial of the defendants` counterclaim. The defendants appealed. I dismissed the appeal and now give my reasons.

5.The defendants have not filed an affidavit to substantitate their defence of set-off. They relied wholly upon the defence filed. Of course O 14 r 4(1) provides that a defendant may show cause against an O 14 application by `affidavit or otherwise`. The burden is on the defendant. A bald assertion in a defence filed may not be sufficient. It would have to depend on the nature of the defence. As stated in para 14/4/4 of the Supreme Court Practice :

The use of the term `or otherwise` is not intended to open wide

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12 cases
  • Nanyang Law LLC v Alphomega Research Group Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 April 2010
    ...at 1643 and 1647; Hua Khian Ceramics Tiles Supplies ([16]supra) at 887; and OCWS Logistics Pte Ltd v Soon Meng Construction Pte Ltd [1998] 3 SLR(R) 888 (“OCWS Logistics”) at [6] and [8]). In the alternative, Alphomega could arguably have a defence of equitable set-off. In my view, there was......
  • Hiap Tian Soon Construction Pte Ltd and Another v Hola Development Pte Ltd and Another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 31 October 2002
    ...571 (refd) Lojan Properties Pte Ltd v Tropicon Contractors Pte Ltd [1991] SLR 80 (refd) OCWS Logistics v Soon Meng Construction Pte Ltd [1999] 2 SLR 376 (folld) Pacific Rim Investments Pte Ltd v Lam Seng Tiong & Anor [1995] 3 SLR 1 (folld) Pembanaan Leow Tuck Chui & Sons Sdn Bhd v Dr Leela’......
  • Engineering Construction Pte Ltd v Sanchoon Builders Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 7 October 2010
    ...of set-off. The principles discussed above have been applied in Singapore. In OCWS Logistics Pte Ltd v Soon Meng Construction Pte Ltd [1998] 3 SLR(R) 888, Chao J, as he then was, said at [6]: In general, any debt or liquidated sum due from a plaintiff to a defendant can be set off against t......
  • Cooperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank BA (Trading as Rabobank International), Singapore Branch v Motorola Electronics Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 3 December 2010
    ...a great deal of uncertainty exists in the area of the law of set-off. In OCWS Logistics Pte Ltd v Soon Meng Construction Pte Ltd [1998] 3 SLR(R) 888, the High Court has set out the historical context of the development of the law of set-off (at [7]): The development of the law of set-off is......
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