Oon & Bazul successfully acted for a Russian client to resist the defendants’ appeal seeking to overturn a summary judgment which we had earlier secured. The appeal judgment appears to be the first written judgment of 2021 – Engineering Centre of Industrial Constructions and Concrete v. EFE (S.E.A) Pte Ltd and Wilfred Quiah  SGHC 01.
Senior Associate Ashvin Thevar appeared as lead counsel and successfully argued the Registrar’s Appeal before the Honourable Justice Aedit Abdullah. He was supervised in this case by Partner Lionel Chan.
The Honourable Justice Aedit Abdullah dismissed the defendants’ appeal, in a detailed judgment spanning 32 pages. While much of the judgment dealt with the Judge’s assessment of the various factual disputes that the defendants had raised, the following key legal principles regarding summary judgment were re-affirmed:
-  A defendant will be granted unconditional leave to defend where the defendant shows that he has a fair case for a defence, reasonable grounds for setting up a defence, or a fair probability that he has a bona fide defence (Akfel Commodities Turkey Holding Anonim Sirketi v Townsend, Adam  2 SLR 412 at )
-  In contrast, the Court will only grant conditional leave to defend, where what the defendant has raised is not hopeless, but does not amount to a fair probability of a bona fide defence (Akfel Commodities Turkey Holding Anonim Sirketi v Townsend, Adam  2 SLR 412 at ). Such conditions may include payment of the claim sum into Court or providing security for costs, before the defendant is permitted to pursue its defence.
Summary judgment will be granted where:
-  The Court does not find a reasonable probability that the defendant had a real or bona fide defence (Goh Chok Tong v Chee Soon Juan  3 SLR(R) 32 at )
-  The defence put up is equivocal, lacking in precision, inconsistent with undisputed contemporary documents or inherently improbable (M2B World Asia Pacific Pte Ltd v Matsumura Akihiko  1 SLR 325 at , and Wayne Burt Commodities Pte Ltd v Singapore DSS Pte Ltd  SGHC 70 at  and ). In this regard, it is insufficient for the defendant to throw up mere factual assertions without more.
-  Lastly, the Court echoed the Court of Appeal’s holding in Olivine Capital Pte Ltd and another v Chia Chin Yan and another matter  2 SLR 1371, at , that a fresh defence that is not pleaded in the Defence cannot be relied on during the summary judgment hearing, save in exceptional circumstances where the court is of the view that there are good reasons to permit reliance on such fresh defence.
As is clear from the Judge’s detailed Grounds of Decision, the application of the above-listed principles require the Court to carefully assess the factual allegations raised by a defendant to determine the veracity of the defendant’s case for leave to defend.
At Oon & Bazul, we regularly act for our clients both to pursue and to resist a summary judgment application.
A summary judgment application, where successful, avoids the need for the plaintiff to incur the time and costs necessary to proceed all the way to trial to secure a judgment. However, not all cases are suitable for summary judgment and certain cases require the dispute to be ventilated at a full-blown trial involving the cross-examination of witnesses.
If you would like to discuss your case and the merits of applying for/or resisting a summary judgment application, please do not hesitate to contact Partner Lionel Chan by email [email protected] or mobile +65 9759 2037.