Panwell Pte Ltd and Another v Indian Bank

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date19 September 2002
Docket NumberSuit No 422 of 2001 (Registrar's
Date19 September 2002
Panwell Pte Ltd and another
Indian Bank

[2002] SGHC 219

Choo Han Teck JC

Suit No 422 of 2001 (Registrar's Appeals Nos 180 and 199 of 2002)

High Court

Damages–Assessment–Dates for assessment of damages for conversion–Whether damages ought to be assessed as at the date of conversion or the date of judgment–Duty to mitigate loss notwithstanding conversion

The plaintiffs had successfully sued the defendant (the “bank”) for damages for conversion of promissory notes owned by them and placed with the bank as security. The assistant registrar assessed the notes' value as at the date of judgment and awarded damages accordingly.

The bank had sold (ie converted) the notes at 32% of their face value; this amounted to 35% of the face value as at the date of judgment. The bank appealed, submitting that the notes' value should be assessed as at the date of conversion. The bank also appealed against the assistant registrar's order that it pay the costs of attendance of one of the witnesses at the assessment.

Held, allowing the defendant's appeal in part:

(1) The normal rule in respect of assessment of damages for conversion was assessment as at the date of conversion. However, the courts had the flexibility of assessing damages as at the date of judgment, but this flexibility was to be exercised as an exception to the normal rule to provide relief in circumstances where the normal rule proved deficient. As there was no evidence why the normal rule should not apply, the defendant's appeal was allowed: at [9], [11] and [12].

(2) Notwithstanding the conversion, the plaintiffs had to mitigate their loss by buying replacement notes from the market, and sue for the difference in price, if any. In this regard, the burden was on the plaintiffs to show that there was no market, which they failed to do: at [10] to [11].

(3) The evidence of the witness in question being necessary for the assessment, and the bank having rejected an offer to have his evidence agreed, the appeal against the order to pay the witness' costs of attendance was dismissed: at [13].

Brandeis Goldschmidt & Co Ltd v Western Transport Ltd [1981] QB 864; [1982] 1 All ER 28 (refd)

Endurance 1, The [1998] 3 SLR (R) 970; [1999] 1 SLR 661 (folld)

IBL Ltd v Coussens [1991] 2 All ER 133 (distd)

Mercer v Jones (1813) 3 Camp 477; 170 ER 1452 (refd)

Sachs v Miklos [1948] 2 KB 23; [1948] 1 All ER 67 (refd)

Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 (c 32) (UK)

Sushil Nair, Manoj Sandrasegara and Yarni Loi (Drew & Napier LLC) for the plaintiffs

Tan Teng Muan and Wong Khai Leng (Mallal & Namazie) for the defendant.

Choo Han Teck JC

1 This was an appeal by the defendants against the assessment of damages by the assistant registrar below. The plaintiffs had sued the defendants for conversion of Central Bank of Nigeria promissory notes (“CBN notes”) which were placed as security with them by the first plaintiffs. The first plaintiffs were the original owners who...

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