Trans Asian Shipping Services Pvt Ltd v Quality Export House Pte Ltd

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan May Tee
Judgment Date23 March 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] SGDC 94
Citation[2011] SGDC 94
Docket NumberDC 1393 of 2010/H; RA No. 12 of 2011; RAS No. 28 of 2011
Publication Date02 August 2011
Plaintiff CounselMr Joseph Tan (Legal Solutions LLC)
District Judge Tan May Tee: Introduction

This matter came before me by way of a Registrar’s Appeal. The Defendants had applied in SUM 8862/2010/Y to strike out, alternatively to stay the Plaintiffs’ claim in this action and/or to set aside the Writ of Summons. The application was dismissed by the deputy registrar. After hearing both parties, I allowed the Defendants’ appeal and ordered that the Plaintiffs’ claim be struck out. The Plaintiffs have now appealed to the High Court. Herein are my reasons for striking out the Plaintiffs’ claim.

The Plaintiffs’ claim

The Plaintiffs are an Indian company in the business of providing carriage of goods for reward. The Defendants, a Singapore company, are engaged in the trading of branded electronic products.

In the Statement of Claim endorsed in their writ of summons, the Plaintiffs pleaded their claim inter alia as follows: The Defendants entered into a contract of carriage with the Plaintiffs, evidenced by a Bill of Lading No. TALTLS00294999 dated 26 April 2008 (“Bill of Lading”) for the shipment of 1 x 40’ HC FCL STC electronic goods from Singapore to Nhava Sheva, India.

Particulars

On or about 21 April 2008 St John Freight Systems Pte Ltd, the agents for the Defendants placed a booking for the shipment of 1 x 40’ HC container for shipment from Singapore to Nhava Sheva. Pursuant to the booking placed by St John Freight Systems Pte Ltd, the Plaintiffs issued the Equipment Release Order-Cum-Booking Confirmation Note dated 21 April 2008 (“Booking Note”). The Defendants and/or their agent collected an empty 40’ HC container from the Plaintiffs’ appointed container depot in order to stuff the container with the Defendants’ cargo. After the container was loaded on board the TS MUMBAI VOY 806W, the Bill of Lading was issued naming the Defendants as the shipper and released to St John Freight Systems Pte Ltd as agents for the Defendants. The Defendants wrote to the Plaintiffs by way of a letter dated 28 May 2008 confirming that the Defendants were still holding on to the full set of 3 original Bills of lading. The Plaintiffs aver that the terms of the contract are contained in both the Booking Note and the Bill of Lading. The Bill of Lading expressly provides as follows: Carrier’s Tariff

The terms and conditions of the Carrier’s applicable Tariff are incorporated herein. Attention to the drawn to the terms therein relating to free storage time and to container and vehicle demurrage detention ...

Shipper-packed containers

...

The Carrier shall not be liable for any loss of or damage to the contents, and the Merchant shall indemnify the Carrier against any injury, loss, damage, liability or expense whatsoever incurred by the Carrier if such loss of or damage to the contents and/or such injury, loss, damage, liability or expense has been caused by all matters beyond the carrier’s control including, inter alia, without prejudice to the generality of this exclusion ..

..

The Merchant shall be liable for and shall indemnify the Carrier against all loss, damage, delay, fines, attorney fees and/or expenses arising from any breach of the warranties in clause 14.3 or from any other cause whatsoever in connection with the Goods for which the Carrier is not responsible. The Merchant shall comply with all regulations of customs, port and other authorities, and shall bear and pay, all duties, taxes, fines, imposts, expenses or losses including without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, Freight for any additional Carriage undertaken, incurred or suffered by reason thereof, or by reason of any illegal, incorrect or insufficient declaration or , marking, numbering or addressing of the Goods, and shall indemnify the Carrier in respect thereof. If Containers supplied by or on behalf of the Carrier are unpacked at the Merchant’s premises, the Merchant is responsible for returning the empty Containers with interiors clean, odour-free and in the same condition as received to the point of place designated by the Carrier within the time prescribed. In case the containers are not cleaned to a satisfactory condition, or if the container is found damaged then the cost of cleaning repairs shall be to the account of the Merchant. Should a Container not be returned in the condition required and or within the time prescribed in the Tariff, the Merchant shall be liable for any detention loss or expense incurred as a result thereof.”

The Plaintiffs shall refer to the Bill of Lading for its full terms and effect at the trial of this action.

The container was shipped on board the TS MUMBAI VOY 806W on or around 26 April 2008. The container was discharged at Nhava Sheva, India on or around 5 May 2008, whereupon it was subsequently shifted off-dock to CFS Trans India Logistic Park. Although the container was discharged on or around 5 May 2008, the consignee M/s Riddhi Traders failed to take delivery of the cargo. By way of a letter dated 6 May 2008 from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, India (“DRI”), the Indian Custom authorities detained the container as they were investigating whether the import of electronic goods into India were at an undervalue in order to defraud the Indian Custom authorities. Subsequently, the cargo was seized by the DRI and was eventually sold by the DRI. The empty container was returned to the Plaintiffs only on 13 November 2009. In...

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