Goh Ya Tian v Tan Song Gou and Others

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeLai Kew Chai J
Judgment Date27 August 1981
Neutral Citation[1981] SGHC 18
Citation[1981] SGHC 18
Docket NumberDistrict Court Appeal No 82 of 1980
Subject MatterTrial,Part of evidence before court,Car hit from behind,Agreed bundle of documents,Balance of probabilities,Police reports in agreed bundle,Submission of no case to answer,Tort,Negligence,Res ipsa loquitur,Proof of negligence,Admission without formal proof,Defendant put to election whether to call evidence or not,Civil Procedure
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselJoseph Gay (Leong & Gay)
Defendant CounselTan Tee Jim (Donaldson & Burkinshaw),Simon Yuen (Khattar Wong & Partners)
Date27 August 1981

This is an appeal against the decision of the learned magistrate who dismissed the claim of the appellant for the sum of $1,132.20 being the agreed damages suffered by the appellant`s taxi. The claim was against the first respondent as the owner and driver of motor pick-up GF 6797 E. The second respondent was sued as the registered owner of a trade plate bearing No 0857S which was attached to a motor crane bearing No GS 13278. The motor crane was owned by the third respondent and the appellant claimed that it was driven by one Abdullah bin Haji Bakar as the servant or agent of the second or third respondents.

Although the sum at stake is small, this appeal raises important questions as to the practice and evidential effect of documents which are agreed by parties in a litigation to be included in an agreed bundle, the court`s application of the principles of logic and commonsense to circumstances surrounding a collision which do not infrequently arise and the practice of a trial judge before whom a submission is made that the plaintiff not having made out a case, the defendant has no case to answer.

Only the appellant gave evidence at the trial. He was the owner of motor taxi SH 4490. He hired out the taxi to one Tan Ah Lek for a specific sum. The hire was not dependent on Tan Ah Lek`s earnings. The appellant alleged in evidence that Tan Ah Lek was not employed by him. At about 3.30pm on 21 June 1978 the taxi, whilst in the charge of Tan Ah Lek, was involved in a motor accident, The taxi was later repaired for $802.20. The appellant also said in evidence that since the commencement of the proceedings he had tried to locate Tan Ah Lek to give evidence but was unsuccessful. This is the entire effect of his evidence. He was not cross-examined by any of the three respondents. The appellant did not and indeed could not call any other oral evidence as he had not witnessed the collision.

At the commencement of the trial, an agreed bundle of documents and photographs was by agreement admitted into evidence and marked as exts `AB1-16`. The first three documents were certified true copies of the Police Reports of Tan Ah Lek, Abdullah bin Haji Bakar (the crane driver) and Tan Song Gou (the pickup driver). Tan Ah Lek said in his police report that at the time of the accident along Jurong Port Road his taxi was `hit from the rear by Datsun Pickup GF 6797 E`. The `rear portion` of the taxi was dented. No one was injured. The crane driver`s report disclosed that he was driving the crane along Jurong Port Road towards the Port Road circus. Before approaching the Jurong Interchange, there was a traffic jam. When traffic in front of him moved forward, there was a car space in front of him. The pickup driver driving motor pickup GF 6797 E overtook him and swerved into the empty space. At that moment the traffic in front came to a halt. He said `as a result` the crane knocked into the rear left corner of the pickup. The crane was not damaged.

The pickup driver`s version is this. He said he was following the taxi. When the traffic ahead of him stopped, he did likewise. Whilst waiting for the traffic in front of him to move on, he was knocked from behind by the crane. The impact forced his pickup forward and it knocked into and damaged the rear of the taxi.

One gets the clear picture from the reports that the pickup had collided into the rear of the taxi which was either stationary or was moving forward very slowly. Whether the pickup was stationary behind the taxi and was hit from behind by the crane or whether the pickup had swerved into the open space and path of the crane is clearly a matter between them. As far as the taxi is concerned, it is clear the pickup had collided into its rear.

The other documents in the agreed bundle principally related to the damage of the taxi and the pickup and the repairs of the taxi. As quantum was agreed, I need not dwell on them save to underscore the fact that the descriptions and photographs of the damage to the taxi...

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10 cases
  • Tan Song Gou v Goh Ya Tian
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 19 August 1982
  • Jet Holding Ltd and Others v Cooper Cameron (Singapore) Pte Ltd and Another and Other Appeals
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 29 June 2006
    ...v Butcher [1986] 2 All ER 488 (folld) Forsikringsaktieselskapet Vesta v Butcher [1989] AC 852 (folld) Goh Ya Tian v Tan Song Gou [1981-1982] SLR (R) 193; [1980-1981] SLR 578 (refd) Gopal Das v Sri Thakurji AIR 1943 Privy Council 83 (refd) Hadley v Baxendale (1854) 9 Exch 341; 156 ER 145 (fo......
  • Press Automation Technology Pte Ltd v Trans-Link Exhibition Forwarding Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 3 December 2002
    ...Ltd v Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association [1992] 2 SLR (R) 195; [1992] 2 SLR 828 (distd) Goh Ya Tian v Tan Song Gou [1981-1982] SLR (R) 193; [1980-1981] SLR 578 (folld) Hakko Products Pte Ltd v Danzas (Singapore) Pte Ltd [1999] 1 SLR (R) 651; [2000] 3 SLR 488 (distd) Interf......
  • Ng Bee Lian v Fernandez and Another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 April 1994
    ...... v Singapore Bus Service (1978) LtdMagistrate's Court Suit No 12186 of 1987 (refd) Tan Song Gou v Goh Ya Tian [1981-1982] SLR (R) 584; [1982-1983] SLR 107 (refd) Tan Tee Huat v Loy ......
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