Yeo How Sam v Chop Bee Huat

Judgment Date14 February 1947
Date14 February 1947
Docket NumberCase No. 5
CourtSupreme Court (Singapore)
Singapore Colony, Supreme Court.

(Brown, J.)

Case No. 5
Yeo How Sam
Chop Bee Huat.

Belligerent Occupation — Consummation of — Evidence — Conclusiveness of Statements of Executive.

Conclusiveness of Statements of Executive — Extent of Principle of Conclusiveness — Statement as to Consummation of Occupation of Borneo by Enemy Forces — Admissibility in Evidence — Law of Singapore.

The Facts.—In an action before the Supreme Court of Singapore the defendants sought to tender in evidence as part of their case a letter which was signed by the Secretary of the Special Commissioner for South-East Asia and which purported to be a reply to a letter from the defendants' solicitors enquiring on what date in 1942 the Island of Borneo was completely occupied by the Japanese forces. The relevance of this evidence to the defendants' case does not appear from the report. It was argued by counsel for the defendants that the letter was admissible in the same way, and for the same reason, as the official letter from the Colonial Office regarding the status of the Kelantan Government was admitted in Duff Development Co. v. KelantanELR, [1924] A.C. 797.1 Counsel contended that it was admissible by its bare production without any proof, for the reason that it was a matter which was peculiarly within the knowledge of the department of Government concerned—in this case the Foreign Office, whose local representative, Counsel said, was the Special Commissioner.

Held: that not only was the document not conclusive evidence of the statements therein but that it was inadmissible in evidence.

The Court said: “While it is true that there are instances where the certificates of public officers, whether under the hand of the public officer himself or in the form of an official letter from his department, are receivable as evidence of the fact or facts therein contained, I do not think that this is one of them. And I think that if I admitted this document I should be acting contrary to principle and unsupported by authority. A statement in an official letter from the Colonial Office that Kelantan was an independent State; a statement made on the instructions of the Foreign Office regarding the status of a person claiming immunity from judicial process on the ground of diplomatic privilege; and a statement by an official of the Foreign...

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