"CSAV Tokyo" v "KMTC Hong Kong"
DMC Category Rating: Confirmed
This case note is contributed by Crump
& Co, the International Contributors to the website for Hong
Section (3) of the Ordinance provided:
"Any court having jurisdiction to deal with an action to which this section relates may, in accordance with the rules of the court, extend the period within which proceedings in the action must be commenced, to such exent and on such conditions as it thinks fit…"
At the hearing it was not disputed that the court could only extend time upon "good reason" being shown. In The Myrto (No.3)  1 AC 597, Lord Brandon distinguished between three categories of cases where the application for extension could arise:-
Although The Myrto was a case concerning the renewal of a writ, the parties in this case agreed that the same principle of "good reason" should be applied to an extension of time under s.7 of the Ordinance. The dispute at the hearing was largely over the application of the agreed principle.
The judge rejected the Plaintiffs’ submission, based on The Zirje  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 493, that the admission of liability on the part of the Defendants was itself a good reason to extend time. Though the judge recognized that the admission was a matter to be taken into account, admission of liability in itself did not, in any way relieve the duty of the Plaintiffs to issue proceedings in time. In his view, "admission of liability does not in any way relieve the duty of the claimants (in collision cases) to issue the writ in time as admission of liability does not impose a longer time limit or provide a "good reason for extension." The lack of any agreement over the quantum of any individual item of damage was important in the judge’s view, as there was "more than the possibility that the disagreement over quantum would have to be resolved by the court." "There is in fact," he said, "the necessity for the plaintiffs (like all cases) to bring the claim in time when there is no agreement on liability or quantum."
The judge held that The Al Tabith  336 provided a more reliable guide than The Zirje on how the time extension cases should be approached. In that case, an extension was refused at first instance and again on appeal, where the court said (at p343) that "The sole operative cause of the delay in issuing the writ was… the human error [of the plaintiff’s lawyer]. He was not induced to make the mistake by any active or passive conduct on the part of the defendants." So in this case, the judge held that neither ignorance of the need to issue a writ (where quantum had not been agreed) nor, indeed, any oversight or carelessness of the part of anyone acting for the Plaintiff, could provide a good reason for granting an extension. There was nothing in the conduct of the Defendants which led or caused the Plaintiffs not to issue in time.
Accordingly, the Plaintiffs’ summons was dismissed with costs.
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