The "Trade Fair"

JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date27 May 1994
Neutral Citation[1994] SGCA 82
Date21 October 1994
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 163 of 1993
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselGoh Kok Leong (Ang & Pnrs)
Citation[1994] SGCA 82
Defendant CounselLiew Teck Huat (Niru & Co)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject MatterAdmiralty and Shipping,s 3(1)(f) High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 123),Admiralty jurisdiction and arrest,Action in rem,Indemnity claim in respect of compensation paid under the Workmen's Compensation Act (Cap 354)

Cur Adv Vult

The respondents commenced this admiralty action in rem against the owners of the ship or vessel Trade Fair (the appellants) on 26 November 1992 claiming an indemnity pursuant to s 18(b) of the Workmen`s Compensation Act (Cap 354) in the sum of $135,000. The admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court was invoked under s 3(1)(f) of the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (hereafter referred to as `the Act`). However, long before that, on 5 August 1988, the Standard Steamship Owners` Protection and Indemnity Association (Bermuda) Ltd had furnished security on behalf of the appellants, in the form of a letter of undertaking, to answer the respondents` claim. The appellants, having entered an appearance on 10 July 1993, applied on 21 July 1993 to set aside the writ of summons on the ground that the respondents` claim did not come within the in rem jurisdiction of the court. The appellants also claimed for the return of the letter of undertaking for cancellation. The appellants` application was first heard by an assistant registrar who granted the orders sought by them but on appeal by the respondents to the High Court, Mr GP Selvam JC (as he then was) who heard the appeal allowed it and set aside the orders made by the assistant registrar. The learned judicial commissioner`s judgment is reported at [1994] 1 SLR 704 , against which judgment the appellants have now appealed.

The facts which gave rise to the respondents` claim are not in dispute.
They are amply stated in the judgment of the learned judicial commissioner and may be summarized as follows. The Trade Fair arrived in Singapore on or about 22 April 1988 from Shanghai carrying a cargo of bagged soybean meal loaded in the No 3 deep tank. The respondents were engaged by the appellants to discharge the cargo. Teo Kuan Joo, Lim Ley and Ku Kim (collectively referred to as `the stevedores`) who were employees of the respondents within the meaning of the Workmen`s Compensation Act entered the No 3 deep tank for the purpose of discharging the cargo. Upon entering the No 3 deep tank the stevedores were overcome with hypoxia, as a result of which they immediately collapsed and subsequently died. The respondents, as the employers of the stevedores, consequently became liable to pay compensation in respect of each of them, under the provisions of the Workmen`s Compensation Act, in the sum of $45,000, making a total of $135,000.

The respondents by their statement of claim alleged that `the death of the stevedores was caused by hypoxia, the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere in No 3 deep tank having been severely reduced by reason of microbiological activity within the cargo and/or oxidation of the cargo and/or the internal walls on No 3 deep tank.
` They further alleged that `the said reduction of the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere in No 3 deep tank and the consequent death of the stevedores was caused solely by the negligence of the defendants [the appellants], their servants or agents.` Extensive particulars of the alleged negligence of the appellants, their servants or agents were given and the respondents concluded by alleging that the appellants `would have been liable in damages to the stevedores and/or their legal personal representatives and/or their dependants for the death of the stevedores.`

Although the respondents had alleged in their statement of claim that they did pay compensation in the sum of $45,000 in respect of the death of each of the stevedores pursuant of the provisions of the Workmen`s Compensation Act, the appellants contended before us that there was no proof of such payment.
They contended that since the respondents` claim under s 18(b) of the Workmen`s Compensation Act was to be indemnified of such payment it was dependant on proof of payment. Accordingly, the learned judicial commissioner had erred in allowing the claim to be brought. We are not persuaded by this argument of last resort. The question before us is whether the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the appellants` claim in admiralty in rem and not whether, the court having the jurisdiction to entertain the respondents` claim in admiralty in rem, it should succeed or not.

Turning now to the jurisdiction of the court, the question is whether a claim for an indemnity under s 18(b) of the Workmen`s Compensation Act is a claim for loss of life falling within s 3(1)(f) of the Act.

Section 18(b) of the Workmen`s Compensation Act, in so far as it is relevant for present purposes, reads as follows:

Where any injury for which compensation is payable under this Act was caused under circumstances creating a legal liability in some person other than the employer to pay damages in respect thereof -

(b) if the workman has recovered compensation under this Act, the person by whom the compensation was paid, ... shall be entitled to be indemnified by the person so liable to pay damages as aforesaid.

And s 3(1)(f) of the Act

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9 cases
  • Zarkovic Stanko v Owners of the Ship or Vessel `MARA`
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 1 September 2000
    ... ... A similar approach was adopted by this court. In The Trade Fair [1994] 3 SLR 827 , the plaintiffs were engaged to discharge a cargo of soybean meal from the ship, The Trade Fair, and three of their employees, in the course of discharging the cargo from a deep tank, were overcome with hypoxia and subsequently died. The plaintiffs paid compensation in the ... ...
  • The ‘Bunga Melati 5’
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 August 2011
    ...SLR 250 (refd) Thorlina, The [1985-1986] SLR (R) 258; [1984-1985] SLR 283 (not folld) Tolten, The [1946] P 135 (refd) Trade Fair, The [1994] 3 SLR (R) 641; [1994] 3 SLR 827 (refd) Uni-France Offshore Engineering Pte Ltd v The Owners of the Ship or Vessel ‘Interippu’ [1990] SGHC 131 (not fol......
  • The "Indriani"
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 12 January 1996
    ... ... In the light of the authorities, we agree with GP Selvam J that the phrase `arising out of` within s 3(1)(h) of the Act should be interpreted widely to mean `connected with`. In fact, the construction is in line with the recent decisions of this court in `The Trade Fair`; Owners of the Ship or Vessel `Trade Fair` v Lim & Sons (Pte) Ltd [1994] 3 SLR 827 and in Alexander G Tsavliris & Sons Maritime Co v Keppel Corp Ltd [1995] 2 SLR 113 ... In the former, `any claim for loss of life or personal injury` within s 3(1)(f) of the Act was interpreted widely to ... ...
  • Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services Pte Ltd v The "Bunga Melati 5"
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 7 July 2010
    ...taken the view that the limbs of s 3(1) should be given a broad and liberal reading: The “Mara” [2000] 3 SLR(R) 31; The “Trade Fair” [1994] 3 SLR(R) 641. There was no need, however, to reach a conclusive view as to whether the standard of proof under s 3(1) is that of a good arguable case o......
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3 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2006, December 2006
    • 1 December 2006
    ...supra n 43, which favoured the narrow construction, came after The Saint Anna. 50 Jackson, supra n 42, at p 74. 51 The Trade Fair [1994] 3 SLR 827; Zarkovic Stanko v Owners of the Vessel, “MARA”[2000] 4 SLR 156. 52 The Indriani [1996] 1 SLR 305. 53 Keppel Corp itself. 54 See also the observ......
  • Admiralty and Shipping Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2000, December 2000
    • 1 December 2000
    ...Even though the claim was contractual in nature, that still came within the ambit of s 3(1)(f) which has been construed in The Trade Fair[1994] 3 SLR 827 to cover any claim arising out of loss of life or personal injury. As it was the personal injury which gave the appellant the right to in......
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...711. 6 Supra, note 1, at 167. 7 Ibid at 162—163. 8 Ibid, at 163. 9 Toh Kian Sing, Admiralty Law & Practice (Singapore, 1998), p 53. 10 [1994] 3 SLR 827. 11 Ibid, at 829—830. 12 Ibid, at 831. 13 Ibid, at 831. 14 Ibid, at 830 (quoting the Judicial Commissioner). 15 Ibid, at 831. 16 Ibid, at 8......

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