Yuong Cheong Construction Pte Ltd v Shimizu Corporation

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeAdam Nakhoda
Judgment Date30 August 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGMC 17
Citation[2002] SGMC 17
Published date19 September 2003

Judgment

GROUNDS OF DECISION Cur Adv Vult

THE CHARGE

1) The respondent, Shimizu Corporation (hereinafter "SC") claimed trial to the following charges, marked P2 and P3:

    You, Shimizu Corporation

    of 78 Shenton Way

    #11-01

    Singapore 079120

are charged that you, on or about the 11th day of August 2000, being the occupier of a building operation worksite at 2 Jurong East Street 21, IMM Building, Singapore 609601 which was a factory within the meaning of the Factories Act (Cap 104) did in contravention of regulation 115(1) of the Factories (Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction) Regulations (Cap 104 Rg 8) fail to ensure that the demolition of the partition wall at the 1st storey level of the IMM Building was carried out in a systematic manner, to wit, the demolition of the wall was carried out "bottom-up" progressively instead of "top-down" thereby creating a void at the bottom of the wall resulting in the wall to collapse, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 88(1) of the Factories Act (Cap 104) and being a contravention which resulted in the death of one Siau Chung Yu, punishable under section 89(4) of the same Act.

    You, Shimizu Corporation

    of 78 Shenton Way

    #11-01

    Singapore 079120

    are charged that you, on or about the 11th day of August 2000, being the occupier of a building operation worksite at 2 Jurong East Street 21, IMM Building, Singapore 609601 which was a factory within the meaning of the Factories Act (Cap 104) did in contravention of regulation 116(1) of the Factories (Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction) Regulations (Cap 104 Rg 8) fail to ensure that the continuing inspections were made by a designated person during the progress of the demolition of the partition wall at the 1st storey level of the IMM Building so as to detect any hazard resulting from the weakened wall and you have thereby committed an offence under section 88(1) of the Factories Act (Cap 104) and being a contravention which was likely to cause the death of, or bodily injury to, any person, punishable under section 89(2) of the same Act.

2) Having heard the Prosecution evidence in support of the above two charges I was of the opinion that the Prosecution had made out a prima facie case against Shimizu Corporation. I therefore, called upon Shimizu to enter its defence. By way of a defence Shimizu Corporation brought a private summons, under section 92 of the Factories Act, against the sub-contractors, Yuong Cheong Construction who had been engaged to do the internal partition wall demolition. The charges against Yuong Cheong, marked P1A and P2A, reads as follows;

    You, Yuong Cheong Construction Pte Ltd

    of 1 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 2A

    #06-13 Ang Mo Kio Tech 1

    Singapore 568049

    are charged that you, on or about the 11th day of August 2000, being the sub-contractor engaged by Shimizu Corporation, the occupier of a building operation worksite at 2 Jurong East Street 21, IMM Building, Singapore 609601 which was a factory within the meaning of the Factories Act (Cap 104) did in contravention of regulation 115(1) of the Factories (Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction) Regulations (Cap 104 Rg 8) fail to ensure that the demolition of the partition wall at the 1st storey level of the IMM Building was carried out in a systematic manner, to wit, the demolition of the wall was carried out "bottom-up" progressively instead of "top-down" thereby creating a void at the bottom of the wall resulting in the wall to collapse, and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 92 read with Section 88(1) of the Factories Act (Cap 104) and being a contravention which resulted in the death of one Siau Chung Yu, punishable under section 89(4) of the same Act.

    You, Yuong Cheong Construction Pte Ltd

    of 1 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 2A

    #06-13 Ang Mo Kio Tech 1

    Singapore 568049

    are charged that you, on or about the 11th day of August 2000, being the sub-contractor engaged by Shimizu Corporation, the occupier of a building operation worksite at 2 Jurong East Street 21, IMM Building, Singapore 609601 which was a factory within the meaning of the Factories Act (Cap 104) did in contravention of regulation 116(1) of the Factories (Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction) Regulations (Cap 104 Rg 8) fail to ensure that the continuing inspections were made by a designated person during the progress of the demolition of the partition wall at the 1st storey level of the IMM Building so as to detect any hazard resulting from the weakened wall and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 92 read with Section 88(1) of the Factories Act (Cap 104) and being a contravention which was likely to cause the death of, or bodily injury to, any person, punishable under section 89(2) of the same Act.

3) Having heard the evidence on led on behalf of Shimizu Corporation, I found that they had made out prima facie case against Yuong Cheong Construction and as such I called upon Yuong Cheong to enter their defence. I decided that by operation of section 92 of the Factories Act Yuong Cheong were the actual offenders and therefore I acquitted Shimizu Corporation of the two charges filed against them by the Prosecution and convicted Yuong Cheong on the two charges brought against them by Shimizu Corporation. I imposed a fine of $30,000 for the first charge and a fine of $10,000 for the second charge.

ABBREVIATIONS

4) For ease of reference I will refer to witnesses as well as the Accused's by way of abbreviations:

    Witnesses from Shimizu Corporation (hereinafter "SC")

a) Tang Chan Ming (hereinafter "Tang")

b) Chow Sai Keat (hereinafter "Chow")

c) Imran bin Ismail (hereinafter "Imran")

d) Mok Tee Hua (hereinafter "Mok")

e) Toshiharu Sato (hereinafter "Sato")

Witnesses from Yuong Cheong Construction (hereinafter "YCC")

a) Joseph Chee Kwong Lai (hereinafter "Joseph Chee")

b) Chai Chin Kong (hereinafter "CCD")

c) Chai Chin Yong (hereinafter "CCY")

d) Chai Chin Chian (hereinafter "CCC")

e) Chai Chin Yoong (hereinafter "Yoong")

f) Tung Kee Sam (hereinafter "TKS")

g) Shum Kwai Peng (hereinafter "SKP")

h) Abu Taher Jalal Ahmad (hereinafter "Abu")

Miscellaneous witnesses

a) Sia Ai Ling (hereinafter "Mdm Sia")

b) Alvin Seng (herainafter "Alvin Seng")

Other abbreviations

a) The collapsed wall (hereinafter "the L-shaped wall")

PRELIMINARY POINT.

5) At the commencement of the trial I searched the case law on trials in which the primary accused invokes section 92 of the Factories Act in order to bring in a third party. I was interested to see if there were any procedural guidelines. Unfortunately I was unable to find any cases that dealt with the procedure to be applied in such cases.

6) Therefore, I choose to deal with the case in the following manner. The Prosecution in MOM 1305 of 2000 & Others would present their case against SC and at the close of the Prosecution case I would make a finding as to whether the Prosecution had made out a case against SC. If SC's defence is called then SC would present their defence and commence with their prosecution of YCC under PSS 192 of 2000 & Anor. At the close of SC's case I would then decide whether they had made out a prima facie case against YCC and in the event that they had I would then call upon YCC to enter its defence.

7) By agreement of all parties I decided that during the Prosecution’s case against SC I would allow YCC to also cross-examine the Prosecution’s witnesses.

UNDISPUTED FACTS

8) It is undisputed that SC, as the main contractor, was the occupier of the premises at IMM Building. YCC had been appointed, as sub-contractors in charge of, inter alia, the demolition of various internal partition walls, the erection of new walls and tiling and plastering work. Work commenced on the 8th of July 2000 and by the 11th of August YCC had demolished 42 of the 44 walls that it was contracted to demolish. The remaining walls were the L-shaped wall and the AHU room wall. On the 11th of August, during the day, Abu was tasked to demolish the L-shaped wall and in the course of his work the L-shaped wall collapsed killing one member of the public and injuring four others.

SHIMIZU CORPORATION’S CASE

9) It is SC’s case that YCC carried out demolition of the L-shaped wall on the 11th of August without the knowledge or approval of SC. Further they contend that YCC did not comply with the established procedures for the demolition of the internal partition walls. Had YCC complied with these procedures the tragedy that occurred on the 11th of August would have been averted.

10) SC says that the established practice was for demolition of the internal partition walls was for the work to be carried out under supervision at night. Had this been done then the death and injuries that were caused on the 11th of August would have been avoided.

YUONG CHEONG CONSTRUCTION’S CASE

11) It is YCC’s case that when the work commenced on the 8th of July 2000 because of complaints by tenants about the noise generated by the demolition work YCC was told by SC that all further demolition was to be carried out at night. YCC claims that during the night the mini-excavator would be used to bring down the main partition walls but that during the day electrical and pneumatic handheld breakers would be used to break up the large pieces of wall into smaller pieces for disposal. YCC also claim that some of the partition walls were also demolished during the day using handheld breakers. Thus it is YCC’s case that the complaint of noise pollution only related to demolition using the mini-breaker...

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