The "Million No II"

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeLim Teong Qwee JC
Judgment Date25 February 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGHC 53
Citation[1998] SGHC 53
Plaintiff CounselWinston Kwek (Joseph Tan Jude Benny & Scott)
Defendant CounselKenneth Lie (Ang & Partners)
Date25 February 1998
Docket NumberAdmiralty in Rem No 345 of 1991 (Registrar's Appeal No 209 of 1997)
Published date19 September 2003
Subject MatterAdmiralty and Shipping,O 70 r 17 Rules of Court 1996,Dismissal for want of prosecution,Actions arising from collision at sea,Collision,Plaintiffs' failure to proceed for six years after writ,Civil Procedure,Preliminary act,Object and effect of,Principles,Whether delay inordinate and inexcusable,Whether risk of prejudice to defendants,Defendants able to file summary of case and preliminary act


This is an appeal against the decision of an assistant registrar dismissing the defendants` application. I dismissed the appeal and after hearing further arguments I affirmed the order for dismissal of the appeal.

2.The defendants` application is for an order that the plaintiffs` action be dismissed on the grounds that: (a). the plaintiffs have failed to comply with O 18 of the Rules of the Supreme Court 1990 and/or the Rules of Court 1996; and/or

(b). there is want of prosecution on the part of the plaintiffs.

The first ground was not proceeded with both before the assistant registrar and on appeal.

3.On 28 April 1991 there was a collision at sea in the Singapore Strait between the `Million No II` and the `Daphne`. The next day the writ in this action was issued. It is indorsed with a claim `in respect of damage and loss suffered by [the plaintiffs] arising out of [the collision] which occurred outside Singapore Port limits on or about 28 April 1991 and which was solely caused by the negligence of the defendants, their servants or agents`. No other particulars are given.

4.On 11 May 1992 an appearance was entered by the defendants. Apart from a notice of change of solicitors filed on 18 March 1997 no further proceedings were taken in the action until after a notice of a pre-trial conference was given by the registrar on 18 February 1997. Notwithstanding O 70 r 17(2) neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants filed a preliminary act within two months of service of the writ or of the entry of appearance and when the parties attended the pre-trial conference they had still not filed any preliminary act.

5.Arising out of the same collision the defendants themselves commenced proceedings against the plaintiffs in Admiralty in Rem 914/91. The writ in that action was issued on 21 August 1991 and it is indorsed with a claim for damages and/or loss and/or expense arising out of the collision caused by the breach of duty and/or negligence of the plaintiffs, their servants or agents. The claim is substantially the same as that of the plaintiffs in this action except for the allegation of negligence against the other party. In that action also no proceedings were taken until after 22 March 1997 when the registrar gave notice of a pre-trial conference. No preliminary act had been filed by either party by then although the plaintiffs (defendants in that action) entered appearance as long ago as 9 May 1992.

6.The parties arranged for the pre-trial conference in both actions to be held on the same day. For the purpose of the pre-trial conference the defendants filed a summary of their case on 18 March 1997. In Admiralty in Rem 914/91 the defendants (plaintiffs in that action) also filed a summary of their case. The plaintiffs also filed a summary of their case in this action.

7.The defendants` case as stated in their summary is that: (a). the Daphne was proceeding in its rightful lane of the traffic...

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