Case: Singapore High Court grants declaratory judgment in default and varies default judgment in part

Powercom Yuraku Pte Ltd v Sunpower Semiconductor Ltd [2022] SGHC 211

Significance: This is the first time the Singapore court explained the legal basis on which: (a) a judgment granted in default of defence can be set aside in part; and (b) declarations can be made in default of defence or on admission or by consent. Goh Yihan JC explains in this judgment.

The court may vary or set aside a judgment granted in default of defence. 

This is based on O 19 r 9 of the Rules of Court 2014:

“Setting aside judgment (O. 19, r. 9)

9. The Court may, on such terms as it thinks just, set aside or vary any judgment entered in pursuance of this Order.”

This would follow from Canberra Development Pte Ltd v Mercurine Pte Ltd [2008] 1 SLR(R) 316 (HC) and Mercurine Pte Ltd v Canberra Development Pte Ltd [2008] 4 SLR(R) 907 (CA)’s comments on O 19 r 9 and O 13 r 8.

C.f. O 9 r 6(2) of the Rules of Court 2021:

“(2) The Court may set aside or vary such a default judgment.”

Also see O 9 r 4(3), O 10 r 5, O 9 r 17 of the ROC 2021.

This is subject to the qualification that the various portions of the
default judgment must be severable from each other.

The court may also grant declaratory judgments in default of appearance or defence. 

The court distinguished Wallersteiner v Moir [1974] 1 WLR 991 as a rule of practice and not law, and noted that that case concerned allegations of fraud, which the courts generally would be cautious about making declarations on without a full trial.

The court contrasted Wallersteiner with Patten v Burke Publishing Co Ltd [1991] 1 WLR 541, where the English High Court granted declaratory reliefs in absence of defence.

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