Rifle group sought $450,000 over 2 flooding incidents, gets $4,708

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Rifle Association (SRA), which had sued parent body the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) seeking more than $450,000 over two flooding incidents, has failed to win the bulk of its claims.

The High Court on Monday (July 3) ruled that SSA was liable to the SRA for $4,708 in cleaning works for the second flood, but was not liable for the first flood, which had resulted in 185,000 rounds of ammunition being submerged underwater.

SSA, the national authority for shooting in Singapore, occupied the National Shooting Centre in Old Choa Chu Kang Road. It leased the premises from landlord Sport Singapore, formerly known as the Singapore Sports Council.

SRA, a founder member of SSA, operated an armoury in the basement of the centre.

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In October 2013, the premises was handed over to Sport Singapore for refurbishment works to prepare for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games. The premises was then handed back to SSA on Dec 1, 2014.

Three weeks later on Dec 24, a collapsed slope at the bank of an unlined drain led to the blockage of the drainage channel.

 

This caused a backflow of water to the armoury, which was flooded to a depth of more than 1m.

The second flood, on May 3, 2015, was due to blockage of the pipe connecting the two sections of the drain which was choked by debris.

SRA blamed SSA for the floods. Its lawyer, Mr Wendell Wong, argued that SSA breached the duty of care it owed SRA to properly maintain and supervise works carried out at the premises.

But SSA, represented by lawyer Anthony Lee, said it does not owe the SRA a duty of care. It argued that SSA had no control over the works carried out on the premises.

On Monday, Judicial Commissioner Debbie Ong found that SSA did owe SRA a duty of care. She found that SSA had breached its duty by failing to check on the works done after the premises was handed back and to carry out necessary rectifications to ensure safety.

However the court said even if SSA had begun such rectification works, they may not be in time to prevent the first flood, which occurred 24 days after premises was handed over. As such, she found that SSA's breach could not be said to have caused the first flood.

But by May 3, 2015, SSA would have known that there were issues with the water drainage infrastructure. By failing to take measures to avoid a second flood, SSA directly caused loss to SRA.

A spokesman for the SRA said it felt "vindicated" that the court found that SSA owed a duty of care to SRA and had breached it. "SRA will study the decision carefully and take advice on issues of monetary compensation," said the spokesman.

The case is one of four court battles involving SRA and SSA, and the latter's president.

It was initially started by SSA in 2015 to compel SRA to hand over the armoury so that it can carry out upgrading works to meet security requirements. SRA countersued.

Last year, the centre was closed after the police found serious licensing irregularities there. SSA then withdrew its claim as it no longer had the legal standing to sue.