16 July 2020
Singapore Airlines Ltd v CSDS Aircraft Sales & Leasing Inc  SGHC(I) 18 Suit No 4 of 2019 (Summons No 30 and 31 of 2020)
Decision of the Singapore International Commercial Court (Jeremy Lionel Cooke IJ):
Outcome: The Singapore International Commercial Court allows the plaintiff’s applications in SIC/SUM 30/2020 (“SUM 30”) for Further and Better Particulars, and in SIC/SUM 31/2020 (“SUM 31”) for various orders and/or directions, which mainly relate to the bifurcation of the trial and the mode of taking of evidence.
1 The plaintiff’s application in SUM 30 was for Further and Better Particulars of the Amended Defence and Counterclaim, following what were said to be inadequate further particulars furnished by the defendant in response to a request. That request related to the allegation in the Defence and Counterclaim that the defendant suffered actionable loss as it had to cancel certain contracts with third parties. Particulars were sought by the plaintiff as to (a) when the cancellations took place and of the full facts, matters and circumstances of the manner in which the defendant allegedly cancelled the third party contracts; (b) whether the cancellations were made orally or in writing; (c) if orally, the names and designations of the parties representatives who made and received the communications on the part of the defendant and the third parties; and (d) if in writing, the identity and full particulars of the relevant documents.
2 In the further particulars provided by the defendant, the defendant stated that the cancellations took place over telephone communications in or around December 2018. The defendant refused to provide particulars sought relating to the name and designation of the parties’ representatives.
Decision of the court
3 The plaintiff is entitled to the particulars requested, and the defendant is required to identify the individuals who were involved in the cancellation arrangements (at ). In circumstances where there were express understandings reached orally, particulars could properly be requested of the identity of those between whom the oral communications were made as well as the date upon which and the time and place at which the communications took place.
4 The plaintiff’s application in SUM 31 was for, in the main, the following orders/directions:
(a) that the trial be bifurcated; (b) in respect of the trial on liability only, that evidence shall be given by way of Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief, and the taking of oral evidence shall be dispensed with; and (c) that within four weeks of an order made in respect of SUM 31, (i) the plaintiff shall file its application to amend its Statement of Claim (Amendment No. 2) setting out particulars of its loss and damage; and (ii) the plaintiff shall provide to the defendant additional documents that it relies on in respect of its loss and damage.
5 The plaintiff’s application for the orders as set out above at  is allowed.
6 The High Court has the power to order a split trial of different issues and the power to allow evidence to be given by various means, including dispensing with the taking of oral evidence. The exercise of such powers is not conditional on the consent of the parties (at –, –). The rules relating to evidence applicable to the Singapore High Court are maintained in relation to the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”), unless the parties otherwise agree on an application to vary them (at ). The SICC cannot dispense with oral arguments save in several specified circumstances, none of which apply to this case (at ).
7 A bifurcated trial in this case would save time and costs, without causing any prejudice or injustice to either party (at , , ). The evidence for the determination of the issue of liability has been agreed to be documentary. The evidence of the witnesses of fact is effectively uncontested or irrelevant to the main issues (at ). The plaintiff’s proposal to amend its Statement of Claim (Amendment No 2) setting out the particulars of its loss and damage and provide to the defendant additional documents that it relies on in respect of such loss and damage is a sensible one (at ). Unless the parties agree, the attendance of lawyers to argue the case cannot be dispensed with (at ).
This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.
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