Tay Cheng Yan v Tock Hua Bin and Another

JudgeGoh Joon Seng J
Judgment Date14 April 1992
Neutral Citation[1992] SGCA 25
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 43 of 1990
Date14 April 1992
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselChristopher Fam (Fam Tay & Lee)
Citation[1992] SGCA 25
Defendant CounselSimon Yuen and Teo Weng Kie (Khattar Wong & Partners)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject MatterLoss of future earnings,Whether proper multiplicand used,Assessment of damages,Whether annuity tables and direct application method used concurrently in calculating damages,Measure of damages,Personal injuries cases,Damages

Cur Adv Vult

On 29 June 1988 the appellant was injured in an accident between his vehicle and that of the respon. He claimed damages from the respondent who did not enter appearance and took no part in the proceedings. The co-respondents in the present appeal were added as co-defendants in the court below pursuant to an order of court dated 28 April 1989. On 17 October 1989 damages were assessed by the assistant registrar at a total of $133,756, out of which $89,500 was awarded for loss of future earnings. The co-respondents appealed to the judge-in-chambers against the award for loss of future earnings. On 10 April 1990 Sinnathuray J reassessed the award for loss of future earnings at $54,000. The appellant now appeals that this judgment be reversed, and that the award of the assistant registrar be restored.

The relevant facts are as follows.
Before the accident, the appellant was employed by Pandai Steel Industry Ltd (`Pandai`) as a machine operator. He had joined Pandai on 26 December 1985. The hierarchy for workers in the machine-operating section of Pandai runs thus (in ascending order): machine-operator; assistant machine-line leader; machine-line leader; assistant foreman; foreman; senior foreman. Pandai`s assistant personnel manager, Catherine Woo, gave evidence at the hearing before the assistant registrar that chances of promotion in the machine-operating section were good because of the keen competition for such skilled labour.

In July 1987 the appellant was promoted directly to the position of machine-line leader, thereby bypassing the position of assistant machine-line leader altogether.
At this point his basic salary was $460. This basic salary, added to overtime allowance and the allowance he was paid for the post he held (post allowance), were the essential elements of his gross salary. According to Catherine Woo, overtime was very frequent for machine-operating workers. The appellant submitted a list of workings (PB9) which showed his basic salary, post allowance, overtime allowance and his gross salary for the months of April 1988 to January 1989. The assistant registrar appears to have relied on this list in finding that for the months of April, May and June 1988, the appellant earned an average monthly gross sum of $881.11.

Following the accident on 29 June 1988, the appellant was hospitalized for 43 days.
On returning to work, he found that he could no longer operate machines because of poor vision in his left eye caused by the accident. He was then made a store-man, though it would appear that his designation remained that of machine-line leader and he continued to receive the post allowance paid to machine-line leaders.

After the accident, the appellant`s basic salary increased to $560.
The explanation given by Catherine Woo was that the increase came from the annual increment paid by the company on 1 July every year. This annual increment is discretionary, depending on the worker`s performance. Again the assistant registrar appears to have relied on PB9 in finding that the appellant`s monthly gross earnings averaged $556.23 between July 1988 and January 1989.

As a store-man, overtime was rare as compared to the overtime chalked up by machine operators.
This can be seen from PB9: for example, in June 1988 (the month of the accident) the appellant received $461.58 in overtime allowance; whereas, following the accident, from July 1988 to January 1989, he does not appear to have earned any overtime allowance except for a sum of $105.51 in December 1988. Furthermore, Catherine Woo testified that the chances of promotion for a store-man were slimmer than those for a machine operator because the machine operators were `doing most important work`.

Catherine Woo also testified before the assistant registrar that company records showed that those workers who were eventually promoted to the position of foreman were in general so promoted within five to eight years of joining the company.
She said that promotion chances were good as machine operators were doing the most important work, and if promotion was not recognized they might move to any of the three competitors of Pandai. She further said that there were about 10 to 11 foremen and that excluding the foremen there were 170 machine operators. She conceded that if all the 170 stayed for five to eight years not all of them would be promoted; but she added that such a situation did not occur because of the movements of the machine operators by reason of resignation or other causes.

At the time

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6 cases
  • Lim Fook Lau and Another v Kepdrill International Incorporated SA and Others
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 October 1992
    ... ... Kuo Shin [1981] 2 MLJ 167 Peh Diana [1991] 3 MLJ 375 Lai Wee Lian v Singapore Bus Service (1978) Ltd [1984] 1 MLJ 325 and Tay Cheng Yan v Tock Hua Bin & Anor [1992] 1 SLR 761 all of which had taken a multiplier of 15 years in respect of injured/deceased persons aged between 20 ... ...
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 29 May 2014
    ...Hafizul Islam Kofil Uddin [2012] 3 SLR 1003 (refd) Tan Juay Mui v Sher Kuan Hock [2012] 3 SLR 496 (refd) Tay Cheng Yan v Tock Hua Bin [1992] 1 SLR (R) 779; [1992] 1 SLR 761 (refd) Teo Ai Ling v Koh Chai Kwang [2010] 2 SLR 1037 (refd) TV Media Pte Ltd v De Cruz Andrea Heidi [2004] 3 SLR (R) ......
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 June 2013
    ...v Chai Kang Wei Samuel [2009] SGHC 187 (refd) Tan Juay Mui v Sher Kuan Hock [2012] 3 SLR 496 (refd) Tay Cheng Yan v Tock Hua Bin [1992] 1 SLR (R) 779; [1992] 1 SLR 761 (folld) Taylor v O'Connor [1971] AC 115 (refd) Teo Ai Ling v Koh Chai Kwang [2010] 2 SLR 1037 (refd) Teo Seng Kiat v Goh Hw......
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 June 2013
    ...[1983-1984] SLR(R) 388 (“Lai Wee Lian”) at [17] and endorsed again by the Court of Appeal in Tay Cheng Yan v Tock Hua Bin and another [1992] 1 SLR(R) 779 (“Tay Cheng Yan”) at [16]. The multiplier in the conventional approach is discounted so as to account for two factors as set out by the P......
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