Seng Hin v Arathoon Sons Ltd

JudgeTan Ah Tah FJ
Judgment Date09 July 1968
Neutral Citation[1968] SGFC 6
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No Y58 of 1967
Date09 July 1968
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselDavid Marshall and KC Chan (Braddell Brothers)
Citation[1968] SGFC 6
Defendant CounselJF McWilliams (Donaldson & Burkinshaw)
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterBreach of contract,Sale of goods,Commercial Transactions,Section 14(2) Sale of Goods Act 1893 (c 71) (UK),Whether goods of merchantable quality

At the conclusion of the hearing we allowed the appeal by the defendants against the judgment of Ambrose J awarding the plaintiffs the sum of $2,369.90 as damages for breach of contract in respect of the sale by the defendants to the plaintiffs of ten tons of `Gold Medal` tapioca flour. We now give our reasons.

By contract no 2971 dated 6 February 1963 the defendants sold the aforesaid tapioca flour under its trade name to the plaintiffs at $16.25 per picul ex store packed in bags for shipment in February.
The defendants did not know to which part of the globe the goods were to be shipped or for what purpose the said flour was required.

The plaintiffs took delivery of and shipped the bags in question on 16 February 1963 for discharge at Rotterdam for account of Messrs Jan Bosscher of Harengroningen.
Prior to delivery, the defendants had marked these bags on both sides with their own distinguishing mark consisting of Chinese lettering in red ink using a red dye on stencil on the outer cover of the jute bags as had been their usual practice in the course of their tapioca flour business during the preceding 17 years. It should also be noted that during the preceding eight years the plaintiffs had purchased the same brand of tapioca flour from the defendant on five occasions and sold it to Messrs Jan Bosscher without complaint.

After arrival of the flour in Holland a survey was conducted on 29 April 1963 by one, Helmut Tillery, a sworn surveyor from Bremen.
He was examined upon oath before the Municipal Court of Bremen in West Germany in early 1967, pursuant to a letter of request, and his deposition was to the following effect. He inspected the outward condition of 50 out of 100 sacks of the tapioca flour concerned and saw the Chinese letters placed by the defendants in red painting on both sides, the painting being put on thicker on one side. He opened about ten to 15 sacks and found that the red colour had penetrated the jute cover and that granules of the colour were lying on the tapioca flour. Besides, the flour was slightly discoloured. In such cases, the coloured particles were only to be found within the reach of the Chinese lettering and that was where the flour was discoloured. From three to five sacks he took samples and pieces of the sacking with the red colour on it which he sent for analysis to Dr Werner Hofmann, of Bremen, a certified food chemist and bacteriologist as well as a qualified analytical chemist. According to the latter`s deposition, only three kinds of red colours for the colouring of food and two other kinds of red colours for the dyeing of packing material are admissible under regulations enacted pursuant to the Foodstuffs Law applying in the Federal Republic of Germany. From his analysis, he ascertained that the red colour from the samples submitted to him was not one of the admissible red colours under the German regulations and he concluded that the tapioca flour concerned was, under the German regulations, unfit for consumption. It should be noted that both these witnesses in their certificates stated that the `goods contaminated by the said red are unfit for consumption` and that, as we have already pointed out, it was only the tapioca flour within the reach of the Chinese lettering on the jute bags themselves which was slightly discoloured or contaminated. It should also be obs erved that there is no evidence at all that even that part...

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