Pondok Abang v Apexlink Pte Ltd

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeLim Wee Ming
Judgment Date26 April 2022
Neutral Citation[2022] SGDC 88
Citation[2022] SGDC 88
Docket NumberDistrict Court Suit No 2827 of 2019, District Court Appeal No 11 of 2022
Plaintiff CounselPaul Fitzgerald (Paul Fitzgerald)
Defendant CounselLow Chang Yong (Wee, Tay & Lim LLP)
District Judge Lim Wee Ming: Introduction

The plaintiff’s claim against the defendant is for damages arising from the defendant’s alleged breach of contract, in selling the defendant cooking pans which were unable to cook evenly, the plaintiff’s required quantity of 100 kilograms of beef lungs per pan.

I dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff has appealed against my decision.

Facts

The plaintiff is a halal food manufacturer in Singapore with a variety of ready to cook (“RTC”) and ready to eat (“RTE”) products.1

The defendant is in the business of the manufacture, sale and maintenance of kitchen equipment.2

In April 2018, the plaintiff was seeking to expand its manufacturing capacity and wished to acquire equipment capable of cooking 200 kilograms of beef lungs per cooking cycle, an increase from its existing capacity of 80 kilograms.3

The plaintiff’s owner, Hasan bin Abdul Rahman (“Hasan”), dealt with the defendant’s assistant application sales manager, Kelvin Kua (“Kelvin”). In a whatsapp message of 3 May 2018, Hasan informed Kelvin of the plaintiff’s interest in acquiring Firex Cucimax pressure round pans, each capable of cooking 100 kilograms per cooking cycle.4

Firex is an Italian company in the business of manufacturing professional kitchen equipment. The defendant is an authorised distributor of Firex products in Singapore.

Hasan and Kelvin met on 4 May 2018 at the plaintiff’s premises. At the meeting, Hasan informed Kelvin that the plaintiff wished to increase its capacity for cooking beef lungs from 80 kilograms per cooking cycle to 200 kilograms per cooking cycle. The plaintiff was therefore looking at purchasing two Cucimax pressure-cooking pans, each with a capacity of 100 kilograms of beef lungs per cooking cycle.5

On 15 May 2018, Kelvin sent Hasan the defendant’s quotation for two Cucimax pans, each with a total tank capacity of 162 litres and a useful capacity of 135 litres, for a price of $42,350 per pan. The plaintiff signed the quotation and returned it to the defendant on the same day.6

In July 2018, the plaintiff applied to IE Singapore for the Capability Development Grant (“CDG”) which would subsidise 50% of the purchase.7 The plaintiff’s application was approved on 24 September 2018.8

Testing of the pans at Bangi

In August 2018, Kelvin invited the plaintiff to attend a test of the Cucimax pans at Bangi in Malaysia. The plaintiff attended the test on 27 and 28 September 2018.9 The test was attended by: Hasan, Abdul Rahman bin Yad Ali, Hasan’s father, Habib Mansoor, the plaintiff’s senior marketing executive, and Gabriele Vendruscolo (“Venruscolo”), the Firex representative.

The defendant did not attend the test.

Initially, the plaintiff wished to test only 3 kilograms of beef lungs, but in an email of 15 August 2018 to the defendant and the plaintiff,10 Vendruscolo suggested that the plaintiff “consider a load of around 30 LT finished product”, in view of the 100 litre capacity of each pan. In that email, Vendruscolo further stated, “not sure how [30 LT of finished product] translate into the meat quantity but [I] am sure you can have an idea”.11

At the test, the plaintiff cooked a load of a little over 20 kilograms of beef lungs.12 According to Hasan, the beef lungs were cooked to “a good standard”.13 Hasan’s evidence was that “After the test cooking, my father asked Mr Vendruscolo whether the pans could handle 100 kilograms. Mr Vendruscolo seemed confident that the pans could handle our required quantity but stated that he was in no position to predict quality.”14

Thereafter, the plaintiff proceeded with the purchase of the Cucimax pans. The plaintiff made payment for the pans and the defendant delivered and installed the pans in March 2019.15

Unevenly cooked beef lungs

After the plaintiff started test cooking its products with the Cucimax pans, the plaintiff discovered that it could achieve acceptable results with its RTE dishes. However, the plaintiff could only achieve consistent cooking of the beef lungs in batches of 30 kilograms. If 100 kilograms of beef lungs was used, some lungs would be cooked to an acceptable standard, whereas others would be over or under cooked.16

The plaintiff raised the problem with the defendant. On 14 May 2019, Vendruscolo attended the plaintiff’s premises to observe the cooking of the beef lungs. Vendruscolo ascertained that the issue arose from the beef lungs floating which caused the floating meat to be undercooked. In an email to the plaintiff of 21 May 2019, he proposed that a perforated steel disc be placed at the top of the pan so that the beef lungs would remain under water.17 Vendruscolo informed the plaintiff that there would be a cost to this proposed solution.

The plaintiff was unhappy with this proposed solution, as the disc would lock the plaintiff into cooking less than 100 kilograms of beef lungs per cooking session.18 The defendant then suggested that the plaintiff purchase a larger pan with a capacity of 300 litres. The plaintiff refused to accept this proposal.19

Thereafter, the plaintiff commenced the action herein against the defendant.

Plaintiff’s position

The plaintiff’s claim against the defendant is for: Breach of the implied condition under section 13(1) of the Sale of Goods Act (Cap 393, 1999 Rev Ed) (“SOGA”) in that the Cucimax pans supplied by the defendant failed to conform with the description in the quotation, in that each pan could only boil satisfactorily 30 kilograms of beef lungs per cooking cycle, below the useful capacity of 135 litres described in the quotation and the 100 kg specified by the plaintiff as the required capacity.20 Breach of the implied condition under section 14(3) of SOGA in that the Cucimax pans supplied by the defendant were unfit for purpose, in that they could only boil satisfactorily 30 kilograms of beef lungs per cooking cycle, below the 100 kilograms specified by the plaintiff as being the required capacity.21

In relation to the plaintiff’s claim under section 14(3) of SOGA, the plaintiff relies on the Court of Appeal decision in National Foods Ltd v Pars Ram Brothers (Pte) Ltd [2007] 2 SLR (R) 1048 (at [73], [81]), where the Court of Appeal held that section 14(3) assumes that where the buyer makes known to the seller any particular purpose for which the goods are being bought, there is reliance on the seller’s skill and judgment. The onus then falls on the seller to prove that there was no such...

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