SP Chua Pte Ltd v Lee Kim Tah (Pte) Ltd

JudgeAmarjeet Singh JC
Judgment Date10 May 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGHC 104
Citation[1993] SGHC 104
Defendant CounselRavintheran Krishnasamy (Ching & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselAndre Yeap (Allen & Gledhill)
Date10 May 1993
Docket NumberSuit No 1986 of 1991
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterDefective workmanship and materials,Arbitration,Stay of court proceedings,Claim for work done and materials supplied,Further and better particulars,off,Civil Procedure,Request for extension of time to file defence and counterclaim,Whether this amounts to,Nominated sub-contractors,counsel,Request for further and better particulars,Right to ask for more particulars when particulars of plaintiffs,taking a step in the proceedings,s 7 Arbitration Act (Cap 10),Pleadings,Variation,Set,Building and construction contracts,claim sketchy,Traditional type of contracts,Request by defendants,Whether dispute should be referred to arbitration,Whether subsequent variation a dispute in connection with sub-contract,Waterproofing works,Request made by letter cannot be equated with an application to court for further particulars,Building and Construction Law,so as to abandon claim in arbitration,Request not a step in legal proceedings,O 18 r 12(6) Rule of the Supreme Court

The defendants, a construction company, entered into a contract dated 6 February 1986 with the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (`SISIR`) to put up a building known as `SISIR Building`. The defendants later engaged the plaintiffs as a nominated sub-contractor to carry out waterproofing works in respect of the roofing of the said building under a sub-contract (`the sub-contract`) dated on or about 4 September 1986.

In the midst of executing their works, the plaintiffs ran into financial difficulty.
They then entered into an oral arrangement with the defendants which was confirmed in writing by the plaintiffs whereby the defendants would undertake the purchase of material or payment of labour on the defendants` account. Each time the plaintiffs requested the defendants to purchase building materials for them, they wrote to the defendants confirming at the same time that the costs of such purchases could be deducted from progress payments due to them.

When the plaintiffs brought an action to recover the balance of a sum of $102,368.65 for work done and materials supplied by the plaintiffs under the sub-contract in respect of the waterproofing works between the end of 1986 and beginning of 1988, the defendants refused to pay the balance due contending that they had a good defence to the action in that:

(i) the plaintiffs performed defective waterproofing works and the defendants were entitled to make such claims by way of deductions or set-offs as are necessary to defray the defendants` costs incurred in carrying out rectification works;

(ii) the defendants were further entitled to make deductions and claim a set-off in respect of the cost of supply of certain material on the plaintiffs` behalf and such claims in set-offs exceeded the plaintiffs` claim.

After entering an appearance in the proceedings against them, the defendants requested from the plaintiffs an extension of time to file a defence and counterclaim and when time was granted followed up instead with a request for further and better particulars by way of a letter which was served on the plaintiffs and filed in court.
The plaintiffs responded by filing and serving the further and better particulars. Thereafter the defendants took out an application for an order that all further proceedings in this action be stayed pursuant to s 7 of the Arbitration Act (Cap 10), the plaintiffs and the defendants having under the sub-contract agreed to refer to arbitration the matters in respect of which the action was brought by the plaintiffs.

The learned assistant registrar dismissed the defendants` application with costs with the result that the defendants filed an appeal against that decision.
I allowed the appeal and stayed the proceedings in the suit and fixed the defendants` costs, the parties not objecting to the same.

Two issues were canvassed before me:

(1) whether the dispute falls within the arbitration clause;

(2) if so, whether the defendants had taken `a step` in the proceedings pursuant to s 7 of the Arbitration Act by requesting an extension of time to file their defence and counterclaim and/or by the request for further and better particulars and had thereby elected to abandon their right to stay the proceedings in favour of allowing the action to proceed.

Clause 14(1) of the sub-contract and s 7 of the Arbitration Act provide as follows:

Clause 14(1):

Any dispute between the parties hereto as to any matter arising under or out of or in connection with this sub-contract or under or out of or in connection with the sub-contract works or as to any certificate decision direction or instruction of the architect, shall be referred to the arbitration and final decision of a person to be agreed by the parties or failing such agreement within 28 days of either party giving written notice requiring arbitration to the other, to a person to be appointed on the written request of either party by or on behalf of the president or vice-president for the time being of the Singapore Institute of Architects, or failing such appointment within 28 days of receipt of such written request, such person as may be appointed by the courts.

Section 7:

(1) If any party to an arbitration agreement, or any person claiming through or under him, commences any legal proceedings against any other party to the arbitration agreement, or any person claiming through or under him, in respect of any matter agreed to be referred, any party to the legal proceedings may at any time after appearance, and before delivering any pleadings or taking any other...

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3 cases
  • Go Go Delicacy Pte Ltd v Carona Holdings Pte Ltd and Others
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2008
    ...1988) (refd) Smith & Co v British Marine Mutual Insurance Association [1883] WN 176 (refd) S P Chua Pte Ltd v Lee Kim Tah (Pte) Ltd [1993] 1 SLR (R) 793; [1993] 3 SLR 122 (refd) WestLB AG v Philippine National Bank [2007] 1 SLR (R) 967; [2007] 1 SLR 967 (refd) Winning Godown Ltd v Sam Yu Co......
  • Bulthaup GMBH & Co KG v KHL Marketing Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 5 March 2007
    ...procedural self-defence such as opposing an interim injunction. 18. Counsel for the Defendants referred to SP Chua Pte Ltd v Lee Kim Tah [1993] 3 SLR 122 and Fasi v Specialty Laboratories Asia Pte Ltd [1999] 4 SLR 488 in support of his contention that the actions taken by the defendants wer......
  • The Body Shop (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Winmax Investment Pte Ltd and Another (Obayashi Corporation and Others, Third Parties)
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 26 March 2004
    ...of the correctness of proceedings but a disaffirmation, and not a step in the proceedings. In SP Chua Pte Ltd v Lee Kim Tah Pte Ltd [1993] 3 SLR 122 the defendants first asked the plaintiffs for an extension of time to file a defence and counterclaim, then asked the plaintiffs for further a......
1 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 1994, December 1994
    • 1 December 1994
    ...Ltd v Plaza (Queensbury) Ltd[1940] All ER 151. 54 West Constructions v Brucek [1970] ALR at p. 200. SP Chua Pte Ltd v Lee Kim Tah Pte Ltd(1993) 3 SLR 122. 55 Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak v Asean Security Paper Mill Sdn Bhd [1991] 3 MLJ 309. 56 Willesford v Watson (1873) LR 8 Ch 473 cite......

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