Mac-Attack Equipment Hire Pty Ltd v AJ Lucas Operations Pty Ltd [2011] NTSC 01

PARTIES:                                         MAC-ATTACK EQUIPMENT HIRE PTY LTD

                                                         v

                                                         AJ LUCAS OPERATIONS PTY LTD

TITLE OF COURT:                           SUPREME COURT OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

JURISDICTION:                               SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY EXERCISING TERRITORY JURISDICTION

FILE NO:                                          181 OF 2009 (20942951)

DELIVERED:                                   6 JANUARY 2011

HEARING DATES:                           25 NOVEMBER 2010

JUDGMENT OF:                              MASTER LUPPINO

CATCHWORDS:

Practice and procedure – Pleadings –Request for particulars – Principles applicable to request for particulars – Purpose of particulars.

Supreme Court Rules Order 13 Rules 2, 7, 10, 11, 12.

Northern Territory of Australia v John Holland Pty Ltd & Ors [2008] NTSC 4; Bailey & Ors v The Commissioner of Taxation (1977) 136 CLR 214; R v The Associated Northern Collieries & Ors (1910) 11 CLR 738; Dare v Pulham (1982) 148 CLR 658; Astrovlanis Compania Naviera SA v Linard [1972] 2 QB 611; Dow Corning Australia Pty Ltd v Girys [2001] WASCA 361; Cavanagh v Summers [2000] NTSC 2; Perestrello v United Paint Co Ltd (1969) 3 All ER 479.

REPRESENTATION:

Counsel:
    Plaintiff:                                      Mr Roper
    Defendant:                                    Mr Wyvill SC

Solicitors:
    Plaintiff:                                      Hunt & Hunt
    Defendant:                                    Ward Keller

Judgment category classification:    B
Judgment ID Number:                       LUP1009
Number of pages:                             17


IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
OF AUSTRALIA
AT DARWIN

Mac-Attack Equipment Hire Pty Ltd v AJ Lucas Operations Pty Ltd [2011] NTSC 01
No. 181 of 09 (20942951)

 

                                                     BETWEEN:

                                                     MAC-ATTACK EQUIPMENT HIRE PTY LTD
                                                         Plaintiff

                                                     AND:

                                                     AJ LUCAS OPERATIONS PTY LTD
                                                         Defendant

CORAM:     MASTER LUPPINO

REASONS FOR DECISION

(Delivered 6 January 2011)

This is an application for further and better particulars of the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim pursuant to Order 13.11 of the Supreme Court Rules (“the Rules”).
The Defendant relies on the affidavit of Nicole Dunn sworn 29 November 2010 (“the Affidavit”).
The principles relevant to determining this application may be summarised as follows:-

  1. The purpose of pleadings is to define with clarity the issues which are in dispute and to require each party to give fair and proper notice to the other of the case to be met. Northern Territory of Australia v John Holland Pty Ltd & Ors.
  2. Particulars define the issues to be tried and enable the parties to know what evidence it will be necessary to have available at trial.See Order 13.10(2) of the Rules and Bailey & Ors v The Commissioner of Taxation.
  3. Particulars are required to ensure that litigation is conducted fairly, openly and without surprises and incidentally to reduce costs. See Order 13.10(2) of the Rules and Astrovlanis Compania Naviera SA v Linard and Dow Corning Australia Pty Ltd v Girys.
  4. As the generality of a pleading of a material fact may not sufficiently inform the other side of the case to be met, particulars are designed to limit that generality. Dow Corning Australia Pty Ltd v Girys.
  5. Pleadings and particulars enable the relevance and admissibility of evidence to be determined at the trial. Dare v Pulham.
  6. Pleadings and particulars are not intended to disclose the manner by which the case is to be proved. R v The Associated Northern Collieries & Ors.
  7. A Defendant is entitled to particulars of the damages claimed notwithstanding that Order 13.12(4) of the Rules deems that allegations of loss and damage are denied. A claimant must particularise any items capable of substantially exact calculation. Particulars must give the other side access to the facts which make such calculations possible and thus show the party the case they have to meet and so that any necessary expert evidence can be obtained. Cavanagh v Summers.
  8. The sufficiency of pleadings is something which can vary from case to case. Dare v Pulham approving of Perestrello v United Paint Co Ltd. Hence whether to order particulars and the extent of the order for particulars is a matter for the Court’s discretion. Bailey & Ors v The Commissioner of Taxation.

The following Rules are relevant to the application;-

  1. 13.02       Content of pleading
  2. (1) A pleading shall:
  3. (a)   Contain in a summary form a statement of all the material facts on which the party relies but not the evidence by which those facts are to be proved;
  4. (b)-(c)       Omitted
  5. (2)          Omitted.
  6. 13.07       Matter which must be pleaded
  7. (1)   A party shall, in a pleading subsequent to a statement of claim, plead specifically a fact or matter which:
  8. (a)   The party alleges makes a claim or defence of the opposite party not maintainable;
  9. (b)   If not pleaded specifically, might take the opposite party by surprise; or
  10. (c)   Raises a question of fact not arising out of the preceding pleading.
  11. (2)-(3)    Omitted      
  12. 13.10       Particulars of pleading
  13. (1)   A pleading shall contain the necessary particulars of a fact or matter pleaded.
  14. (2)   Without limiting subrule (1), particulars shall be given if they are necessary to enable the opposite party to plead or to define the questions for trial or to avoid surprise at the trial.
  15. (3)-(6) Omitted

In Northern Territory of Australia v John Holland Pty Ltd & Ors, Angel J summarised the principles applicable to requests for particulars and the adequacy of pleadings generally. Specifically in respect of cases involving claims for breach of contract, his Honour said that the material facts which must be pleaded include:-

  1. (1)     the term of the contract alleged to have been breached;
  2. (2)     the nature of the breach alleged;
  3. (3)     the particular means by which the breach is alleged to have occurred;
  4. (4)     the details of any special or consequential damage claimed;
  5. (5)     the facts which establish the necessary causal link between the breach and damage.

The particulars requested by the Defendant which are the subject of the application are set out in paragraphs 1, 3, 5 and 6 of annexure NSD6 to the Affidavit. The Plaintiff now concedes that the request in paragraph 6 is proper. The remainder of the request for particulars (“the Request”) is set out hereunder:-

  1.  1.   In relation to paragraph 9(a) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim, for each item of equipment, state:
      1. What particular maintenance or service is it alleged the Defendant should have undertaken, but failed to undertake?
      2. When is it alleged the Defendant should have undertaken this maintenance or service?
  2. 3.    In respect of paragraph 9(b) of the Amended Statement of Claim for each item of equipment, state:
  3. (a)     What particular damage or destruction is it alleged the Defendant caused the equipment to suffer;
  4. (b)     When is it alleged the Defendant caused this damage or destruction.
  5. 5.    In relation to paragraph 9(c) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim, for each item of equipment state each aspect of the condition of the equipment upon its return which was different from its condition when provided to the Defendant which difference cannot be accounted for by fair wear and tear.”

The claim in these proceedings is for damages for breach of an equipment hire contract. The Plaintiff’s claims, insofar as they are relevant to the current application can be categorised as follows:-

  1. Claims in relation to the Defendant’s alleged failure to service and maintain certain vehicles or machinery;
  2. Claims for damage to certain vehicles and machinery and the failure of the Defendant to return the subject vehicles in the same condition as they were provided, subject only to fair wear and tear.

The claims in the first category are pleaded in paragraph 9(a) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim. Paragraph 1 of the Request relates to that claim. Likewise the claims in the second category are pleaded in paragraphs 9(b) and 9(c) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim and they are the subject of paragraphs 3 and 5 of the Request. For ease of reference, I set out hereunder the relevant paragraphs of the Further Amended Statement of Claim namely:-

  1.  9.   In breach of the first agreement and/or the plant hire agreement (“the breaches”), the Defendant:
  2. Failed to maintain, service and otherwise keep the equipment in good repair and maintain the equipment so that it was fit for the purpose for which it was provided while the same was in its possession;
  3. Particulars
  4. The Defendant failed to regularly service or otherwise maintain the equipment with the result that the Plaintiff had to undertake servicing and repairs to the equipment during the currency of the hire, so as to mitigate any loss arising from the Defendants said failure.
  5. The work undertaken by the Plaintiff in this regard is detailed in invoices from the Plaintiff to the Defendant, as set out below:
  6. Invoice          Description                                                 Amount
  7. No.                                                    
  8. 1451   33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE01)                        $2,837.51
  9.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications
  10. 1452   33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE02)                        $2,638.25
  11.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications
  12. 1455   John Deere 624J Front End Loader (MAL02)    $1,240.00
  13.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications
  14. 1453   John Deere 770D Grader (MAG01)                   $3,585.97
  15.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications      
  16. 1454   John Deere 770D Grader (MAG02)                   $1,524.79
  17.             Service
  18. Total                                                                           $11,826.52
  19. Failed to ensure equipment was not damaged or destroyed or otherwise dealt with in any manner adverse to the interests of the Plaintiff;
  20. Particulars
  21. The Defendant returned the equipment to the Plaintiff, on conclusion of the hire, in a damaged condition, as follows:
  22. One water cart was returned by the Defendant with:
    1. half of the bonnet missing;
    2. panel damage; and
    3. mechanical damage;
  23. the other water cart was returned by the Defendant with:
    1. a broken windscreen;
    2. panel damage;
    3. mechanical and brake damage; and
    4. the tail shaft missing;
  24. the two Hitachi excavators were both returned by the Defendant with
    1. panel damage;
    2. structural damage to the main dipper arms;
    3. track time of over 47% in circumstances where 7% is acceptable.
    4. cracked windows; and
    5. bent and missing steps;
  25. one of the Hitachi excavators was also returned by the Defendant with a bent toolbox;
  26. one of the Volvo excavators was returned by the Defendant with panel and other structural damage;
  27. the other Volvo excavator was returned by the Defendant with:
    1. Panel damage;
    2. missing;
      1. windows;
      2. mirrors;
      3. batteries;
      4. UHF radio;
      5. Fire extinguisher; and
      6. CD player;
    3. a bent bucket ram;
    4. a hydraulic pump door that was bent and twisted;
    5. bent handrails;
    6. smashed muffler guards;
    7. cabin structural damage; and
    8. damaged and/or missing console parts;
  28. with respect to the two graders, one was returned by the Defendant with tyre and transmission damage; and
  29. the two front end loaders were returned by the Defendant in a condition with only necessitated minor repair works including the replacement of one tyre and general servicing.
  30. The Plaintiff repaired the equipment and incurred substantial costs and damages in so doing. The costs and damages in this regard are detailed in invoices from the Plaintiff to the Defendant, as set out below.
  31. Invoice           Description                                       Amount
  32. No.
  33. 1437    25T Volvo Excavator (MAE04)                      $46,060.72
  34. 1436    33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE01)                      $26,812.80
  35.             Repairs to Damage
  36. 1435    33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE02)                      $26,198.19
  37.             Repairs to Damage
  38. 1394    John Deere 770D Grader (MAG01)                   $5,060.00
  39.             Repairs to Damage
  40. 1367    Freightliner Rigid Water Truck (MAW02)         $5,721.10
  41.     Repairs to Damage
  42. 1439    Freightliner Rigid Water Truck (MAW03)       $12,174.26
  43.     Repairs to Damage
  44. 1447    Freightliner Rigid Water Truck (MAW04)         $3,653.10
  45.     Repairs to Damage
  46. 1438    Volvo 25% Excavator (MAE03)                      $25,049.29
  47.                        Repairs to Damage
  48.                        Total                                                             $150,729.46
  49. (c)     On conclusion of the hire of the equipment, failed to deliver the equipment to the Plaintiff in the same (sic) in the condition in which it had been provided to the Defendant subject to fair wear and tear.
  50. Particulars
  51. The Plaintiff repeats the particulars to paragraph 9(b) above.

The Plaintiff has provided some particulars in response to the Request (“the Answer”). The parts of the Answer relevant to the current application are as follows:-

  1. 1.    In answer to paragraph 1(a) of the Request, the Plaintiff:
  2.        1.1.     in so far as the allegation relates to breaches of the Plant Hire Agreement as defined in the Further Amended Statement of Claim (“the Claim”):
  3.                    1.1.1. relies on:
  4.                                       1.1.1.1.       clause 6 of the said Plant Hire Agreement;
  5.                               1.1.1.2.       operating and maintenance manuals that were provided to the Defendant together with the Equipment and which were not returned to the Plaintiff; and
  6.                    1.1.2.  says that the Defendant should have performed daily servicing of all of the machines, which servicing ought have included:
  7.                               1.1.2.1.      checking all fluid levels;
  8.                               1.1.2.2.      cleaning of air filters;
  9.                               1.1.2.3.      checking for damage; and
  10.                               1.1.2.4.      greasing all mechanical joints.
  11.                    1.1.3.  says that the Defendant should have performed full services for each and every item of equipment as and when they fell due, as follows:
  12.                               1.1.3.1.       the excavators, front end loaders and graders at increments of 500 engine hours;
  13.                               1.1.3.2.       the water trucks at increments of 200 engine hours;
  14.        1.2.     in so far as the allegation relates to breaches of the “first agreement” as defined in the claim the Plaintiff says that is well established industry practice that hired construction equipment is to be serviced by the hirer:
  15.                    1.2.1.1.       in the manner provided for in paragraph 1.1.2. above, daily when in use; and
  16.                    1.2.1.2.       fully on each item of equipment attaining the engine hours provided for in paragraph 1.1.3. above.
  17.        1.3.     In answer to paragraph 1(b) of the Request, the Plaintiff repeats the matters set out in paragraph 1 above.
  18. 2.    Omitted
  19. 3.    As to paragraph 3 of the Request, the Plaintiff:
  20.        3.1.     says that the matters the subject of paragraph 3(a) have been adequately particularised; and
  21.        3.2.      in respect of paragraph 3(b):
  22.        3.3.     says that the damage occurred while the equipment was in the Defendant’s possession, custody and/or control;
  23.        3.4.     save as aforesaid say that the subject request is not a proper request for particulars as, inter alia, it relates to matters solely in the Defendant’s knowledge.
  24. 4.    As to paragraphs 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the Request, the Plaintiff repeats the matters set out in paragraph 2 above.

The Plaintiff concedes that the response to paragraph 6 of the Request is insufficient. For that reason, that part of the application was not argued. The Plaintiff has agreed to address that by further amending its Further Amended Statement of Claim.
The Plaintiff argues that the particulars sought in the Request beyond what has already been provided in the Answer seeks evidence and is not a proper request for particulars. The Plaintiff’s argument is based on the level of detail that has been provided and further detail that the Defendant seeks. That is not the correct test to apply. The rule is not so much that a party is prohibited from seeking evidence, but that it should not seek the manner of proof (see paragraph 3.6 above). Nonetheless the Plaintiff argues that sufficient particulars have been provided. Put simply the Plaintiff’s argument is that the breach alleged is based on the equipment being provided to the Defendant in good condition and that it was returned in a damaged condition. That is what the Plaintiff asserts are the material facts. The Plaintiff says that the damage has been identified and hence argues that the particulars provided are sufficient.
Although I acknowledge the extent of the detail included in the particulars to date, this argument however overlooks that the object of pleadings is to ensure the Defendant can ascertain the case that it must meet. The authorities clearly require that there be sufficient particulars of the damage. The faults with the pleading that I identify below lead me to conclude that the pleadings are not sufficient for that purpose.
Providing particulars by reference to external documents is an accepted and often convenient way to avoid setting out extensive detail in a pleading. Although I accept that particulars can be provided in this way, it remains a question of the sufficiency overall. The Plaintiff has attempted to do this in part in the current pleadings by reference to the manufacturer’s specifications or the vehicle manual, and to various identified invoices. The relevant invoices were in evidence before me as annexures to the Affidavit.
That approach is problematic in the current case. In the context of the manual or the manufacturer’s specifications referred to in the pleadings, I do not consider that it is sufficient to simply refer to “servicing by reference to manufacturers specification” or words to similar effect. At best that simply lists the totality of the work required to be performed, not the extent of the breach. In the context of the current dispute that does not inform the Defendant as to what the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant has omitted to be done, unless the Plaintiff alleges that none of the items specified in the manufacturer’s specifications were done. If that is the case then a simple amendment to the pleadings, coupled with provision of the manufacturer’s specifications will address the deficiency. The pleading must identify, whether by reference to an external document such as the manual or otherwise, the specific works the Defendant was required to do and which the Plaintiff alleges was not done.
Inconsistency between the pleading and the reference document detracts from the required level of clarity, or coherency as Mr Wyvill described it. For example, the particulars to paragraph 9(a) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim describe invoice number 1451 as being for “Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications”. Invoice 1451 however particularises the work done as “Repairs…to bring servicing up to Manufactures (sic) Specifications…”. Hence there is inconsistency and the absence of details of those repairs means that it is not possible to determine whether the necessary causal connection between the alleged breach and those repairs is established.
Another complication is that there is a dispute concerning the whereabouts of the manuals or the manufacturer’s specifications. The Plaintiff alleges that one was provided with each item of equipment but none were returned (Answer paragraph 1.1.1.2). The Defendant denies that they were provided. It is inappropriate for the Court at this stage of the proceedings to attempt to resolve what is essentially a credit issue. In my view it remains for the Plaintiff to obtain and provide that manual at this stage of the proceedings. It is clearly available given that the Plaintiff’s contractors refer to them in the invoices.
The particulars to paragraph 9(b) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim are inconsistent and do not enable the Defendant to identify the alleged breach. Those particulars describe certain damage to “One water cart” (see paragraph 9(b)(I)) and they also refer to “the other water cart” (see paragraph 9(b)(II)). The invoices provided however identify three different water carts, not two, and there is inconsistency between the repairs described to the two to which the pleadings refer. There is no coherency and that is necessary to achieve the objective of defining the issues with clarity.
There are similar problems in respect of paragraph 9(b) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim, to which paragraph 3 of the Request and paragraph 3 of the Answer relates. The invoices referred to in the Further Amended Statement of Claim contain scant and inconsistent details. The Defendant complains that the initial problem with the pleading is that it is not possible to relate the vehicles referred to with the invoices that are specified. The relevant invoices are numbered 1367, 1394, 1435 – 1439 and 1447.
Examination of those invoices shows that the detail in invoices 1394 and 1435-1439 are insufficient in most parts. Mention has already been made of the inconsistency in respect of the repairs to the water cart as well as the claim for repairs for items which appear to be maintenance. Others appear to be wear and tear which I am told is not the Defendant’s responsibility under the agreements.
In all I consider that mostly the particulars are insufficient to meet the objectives of the pleadings and particulars for the reasons stated above. Specifically, any particulars containing generic references are insufficient. Instances in the Further Amended Statement of Claim are “servicing to manufacturers specifications”, “panel damage”, “mechanical damage”, “structural damage”, “transmission damage”, ‘minor repair works”,repairs to damage”. In respect of the Answer, I consider that paragraphs 1.1.1.2, 1.1.3.1, and 1.2.1.2 are insufficient for the same or similar reasons.
The Plaintiff has chosen to provide particulars by reference to various invoices, mostly uninformative ones, sent by the Plaintiff to the Defendant. The invoices for work done and reports from the Plaintiff’s repairer or quotes for repairs may have been a better option as they may have contained sufficient particulars. There is also a reference to an insurance claim in one of the invoices and perhaps reference to some documents allied to that may have been helpful. That to me appears to be a common sense way to provide the particulars required in this case. I expect that such documents would in the main be discoverable in any event.
In summary, in my view it is imperative that in relation to the particulars to paragraph 9 of the Further Amended Statement of Claim that the Plaintiff identifies the relevant vehicle, the particular damage suffered or the particular repair or maintenance work not performed.
The Request also seeks particulars as to time in paragraphs 1(a) and 1(b). Given the duration of the various hire periods and that the equipment was in the possession of the Defendant during those times, it is clearly impossible for the Plaintiff to specify precise dates that damage occurred or the like. Moreover, in light of the nature of the claim, the precise date that an individual item of loss occurred cannot be relevant. The Request is not clear and may be read as requiring particulars of precise dates. Mr Wyvill suggested that on a plain reading of the Request it seeks particulars of the relevant hire period and not specific dates. He argues that the Request will be satisfactorily answered if the Plaintiff simply identifies the hire period during which such events occurred. That however is not how I read the Request as it presently stands, Mr Wyvill’s submission notwithstanding. It would have been quite simple to clearly state that if that was what was required. Although I agree that had a proper request been made, the Plaintiff would be obliged to particularise the relevant hire period in each case, as the Request presently stands, I would not order the Plaintiff to provide the particulars requested in paragraphs 1(b) and 3(b) of the Request. An amendment to the Request will first be required.
Subject to the aforesaid I am of the view that paragraph 9 of the Further Amended Statement of Claim is deficient. The deficiency of paragraph 12 of the Further Amended Statement of Claim has been conceded. In my view therefore the appropriate order is that the Plaintiff be given leave to further amend the Statement of Claim. I will hear the parties as to the time frame for that and for any consequential orders.
I will also hear the parties as to costs.


[2008] NTSC 4

(1977) 136 CLR 214

[1972] 2 QB 611

[2001] WASCA 361

[2001] WASCA 361

(1982) 148 CLR 658

(1910) 11 CLR 738

[2000] NTSC 2

(1982) 148 CLR 658

(1969) 3 All ER 479

(1977) 136 CLR 214

[2008] NTSC 4


Mac-Attack Equipment Hire Pty Ltd v AJ Lucas Operations Pty Ltd [2011] NTSC 01

PARTIES:                                         MAC-ATTACK EQUIPMENT HIRE PTY LTD

                                                         v

                                                         AJ LUCAS OPERATIONS PTY LTD

TITLE OF COURT:                           SUPREME COURT OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

JURISDICTION:                               SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY EXERCISING TERRITORY JURISDICTION

FILE NO:                                          181 OF 2009 (20942951)

DELIVERED:                                   6 JANUARY 2011

HEARING DATES:                           25 NOVEMBER 2010

JUDGMENT OF:                              MASTER LUPPINO

CATCHWORDS:

Practice and procedure – Pleadings –Request for particulars – Principles applicable to request for particulars – Purpose of particulars.

Supreme Court Rules Order 13 Rules 2, 7, 10, 11, 12.

Northern Territory of Australia v John Holland Pty Ltd & Ors [2008] NTSC 4; Bailey & Ors v The Commissioner of Taxation (1977) 136 CLR 214; R v The Associated Northern Collieries & Ors (1910) 11 CLR 738; Dare v Pulham (1982) 148 CLR 658; Astrovlanis Compania Naviera SA v Linard [1972] 2 QB 611; Dow Corning Australia Pty Ltd v Girys [2001] WASCA 361; Cavanagh v Summers [2000] NTSC 2; Perestrello v United Paint Co Ltd (1969) 3 All ER 479.

REPRESENTATION:

Counsel:
    Plaintiff:                                      Mr Roper
    Defendant:                                    Mr Wyvill SC

Solicitors:
    Plaintiff:                                      Hunt & Hunt
    Defendant:                                    Ward Keller

Judgment category classification:    B
Judgment ID Number:                       LUP1009
Number of pages:                             17


IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
OF AUSTRALIA
AT DARWIN

Mac-Attack Equipment Hire Pty Ltd v AJ Lucas Operations Pty Ltd [2011] NTSC 01
No. 181 of 09 (20942951)

 

                                                     BETWEEN:

                                                     MAC-ATTACK EQUIPMENT HIRE PTY LTD
                                                         Plaintiff

                                                     AND:

                                                     AJ LUCAS OPERATIONS PTY LTD
                                                         Defendant

CORAM:     MASTER LUPPINO

REASONS FOR DECISION

(Delivered 6 January 2011)

This is an application for further and better particulars of the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim pursuant to Order 13.11 of the Supreme Court Rules (“the Rules”).
The Defendant relies on the affidavit of Nicole Dunn sworn 29 November 2010 (“the Affidavit”).
The principles relevant to determining this application may be summarised as follows:-

  1. The purpose of pleadings is to define with clarity the issues which are in dispute and to require each party to give fair and proper notice to the other of the case to be met. Northern Territory of Australia v John Holland Pty Ltd & Ors.
  2. Particulars define the issues to be tried and enable the parties to know what evidence it will be necessary to have available at trial.See Order 13.10(2) of the Rules and Bailey & Ors v The Commissioner of Taxation.
  3. Particulars are required to ensure that litigation is conducted fairly, openly and without surprises and incidentally to reduce costs. See Order 13.10(2) of the Rules and Astrovlanis Compania Naviera SA v Linard and Dow Corning Australia Pty Ltd v Girys.
  4. As the generality of a pleading of a material fact may not sufficiently inform the other side of the case to be met, particulars are designed to limit that generality. Dow Corning Australia Pty Ltd v Girys.
  5. Pleadings and particulars enable the relevance and admissibility of evidence to be determined at the trial. Dare v Pulham.
  6. Pleadings and particulars are not intended to disclose the manner by which the case is to be proved. R v The Associated Northern Collieries & Ors.
  7. A Defendant is entitled to particulars of the damages claimed notwithstanding that Order 13.12(4) of the Rules deems that allegations of loss and damage are denied. A claimant must particularise any items capable of substantially exact calculation. Particulars must give the other side access to the facts which make such calculations possible and thus show the party the case they have to meet and so that any necessary expert evidence can be obtained. Cavanagh v Summers.
  8. The sufficiency of pleadings is something which can vary from case to case. Dare v Pulham approving of Perestrello v United Paint Co Ltd. Hence whether to order particulars and the extent of the order for particulars is a matter for the Court’s discretion. Bailey & Ors v The Commissioner of Taxation.

The following Rules are relevant to the application;-

  1. 13.02       Content of pleading
  2. (1) A pleading shall:
  3. (a)   Contain in a summary form a statement of all the material facts on which the party relies but not the evidence by which those facts are to be proved;
  4. (b)-(c)       Omitted
  5. (2)          Omitted.
  6. 13.07       Matter which must be pleaded
  7. (1)   A party shall, in a pleading subsequent to a statement of claim, plead specifically a fact or matter which:
  8. (a)   The party alleges makes a claim or defence of the opposite party not maintainable;
  9. (b)   If not pleaded specifically, might take the opposite party by surprise; or
  10. (c)   Raises a question of fact not arising out of the preceding pleading.
  11. (2)-(3)    Omitted      
  12. 13.10       Particulars of pleading
  13. (1)   A pleading shall contain the necessary particulars of a fact or matter pleaded.
  14. (2)   Without limiting subrule (1), particulars shall be given if they are necessary to enable the opposite party to plead or to define the questions for trial or to avoid surprise at the trial.
  15. (3)-(6) Omitted

In Northern Territory of Australia v John Holland Pty Ltd & Ors, Angel J summarised the principles applicable to requests for particulars and the adequacy of pleadings generally. Specifically in respect of cases involving claims for breach of contract, his Honour said that the material facts which must be pleaded include:-

  1. (1)     the term of the contract alleged to have been breached;
  2. (2)     the nature of the breach alleged;
  3. (3)     the particular means by which the breach is alleged to have occurred;
  4. (4)     the details of any special or consequential damage claimed;
  5. (5)     the facts which establish the necessary causal link between the breach and damage.

The particulars requested by the Defendant which are the subject of the application are set out in paragraphs 1, 3, 5 and 6 of annexure NSD6 to the Affidavit. The Plaintiff now concedes that the request in paragraph 6 is proper. The remainder of the request for particulars (“the Request”) is set out hereunder:-

  1.  1.   In relation to paragraph 9(a) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim, for each item of equipment, state:
      1. What particular maintenance or service is it alleged the Defendant should have undertaken, but failed to undertake?
      2. When is it alleged the Defendant should have undertaken this maintenance or service?
  2. 3.    In respect of paragraph 9(b) of the Amended Statement of Claim for each item of equipment, state:
  3. (a)     What particular damage or destruction is it alleged the Defendant caused the equipment to suffer;
  4. (b)     When is it alleged the Defendant caused this damage or destruction.
  5. 5.    In relation to paragraph 9(c) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim, for each item of equipment state each aspect of the condition of the equipment upon its return which was different from its condition when provided to the Defendant which difference cannot be accounted for by fair wear and tear.”

The claim in these proceedings is for damages for breach of an equipment hire contract. The Plaintiff’s claims, insofar as they are relevant to the current application can be categorised as follows:-

  1. Claims in relation to the Defendant’s alleged failure to service and maintain certain vehicles or machinery;
  2. Claims for damage to certain vehicles and machinery and the failure of the Defendant to return the subject vehicles in the same condition as they were provided, subject only to fair wear and tear.

The claims in the first category are pleaded in paragraph 9(a) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim. Paragraph 1 of the Request relates to that claim. Likewise the claims in the second category are pleaded in paragraphs 9(b) and 9(c) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim and they are the subject of paragraphs 3 and 5 of the Request. For ease of reference, I set out hereunder the relevant paragraphs of the Further Amended Statement of Claim namely:-

  1.  9.   In breach of the first agreement and/or the plant hire agreement (“the breaches”), the Defendant:
  2. Failed to maintain, service and otherwise keep the equipment in good repair and maintain the equipment so that it was fit for the purpose for which it was provided while the same was in its possession;
  3. Particulars
  4. The Defendant failed to regularly service or otherwise maintain the equipment with the result that the Plaintiff had to undertake servicing and repairs to the equipment during the currency of the hire, so as to mitigate any loss arising from the Defendants said failure.
  5. The work undertaken by the Plaintiff in this regard is detailed in invoices from the Plaintiff to the Defendant, as set out below:
  6. Invoice          Description                                                 Amount
  7. No.                                                    
  8. 1451   33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE01)                        $2,837.51
  9.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications
  10. 1452   33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE02)                        $2,638.25
  11.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications
  12. 1455   John Deere 624J Front End Loader (MAL02)    $1,240.00
  13.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications
  14. 1453   John Deere 770D Grader (MAG01)                   $3,585.97
  15.             Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications      
  16. 1454   John Deere 770D Grader (MAG02)                   $1,524.79
  17.             Service
  18. Total                                                                           $11,826.52
  19. Failed to ensure equipment was not damaged or destroyed or otherwise dealt with in any manner adverse to the interests of the Plaintiff;
  20. Particulars
  21. The Defendant returned the equipment to the Plaintiff, on conclusion of the hire, in a damaged condition, as follows:
  22. One water cart was returned by the Defendant with:
    1. half of the bonnet missing;
    2. panel damage; and
    3. mechanical damage;
  23. the other water cart was returned by the Defendant with:
    1. a broken windscreen;
    2. panel damage;
    3. mechanical and brake damage; and
    4. the tail shaft missing;
  24. the two Hitachi excavators were both returned by the Defendant with
    1. panel damage;
    2. structural damage to the main dipper arms;
    3. track time of over 47% in circumstances where 7% is acceptable.
    4. cracked windows; and
    5. bent and missing steps;
  25. one of the Hitachi excavators was also returned by the Defendant with a bent toolbox;
  26. one of the Volvo excavators was returned by the Defendant with panel and other structural damage;
  27. the other Volvo excavator was returned by the Defendant with:
    1. Panel damage;
    2. missing;
      1. windows;
      2. mirrors;
      3. batteries;
      4. UHF radio;
      5. Fire extinguisher; and
      6. CD player;
    3. a bent bucket ram;
    4. a hydraulic pump door that was bent and twisted;
    5. bent handrails;
    6. smashed muffler guards;
    7. cabin structural damage; and
    8. damaged and/or missing console parts;
  28. with respect to the two graders, one was returned by the Defendant with tyre and transmission damage; and
  29. the two front end loaders were returned by the Defendant in a condition with only necessitated minor repair works including the replacement of one tyre and general servicing.
  30. The Plaintiff repaired the equipment and incurred substantial costs and damages in so doing. The costs and damages in this regard are detailed in invoices from the Plaintiff to the Defendant, as set out below.
  31. Invoice           Description                                       Amount
  32. No.
  33. 1437    25T Volvo Excavator (MAE04)                      $46,060.72
  34. 1436    33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE01)                      $26,812.80
  35.             Repairs to Damage
  36. 1435    33T Hitachi Excavator (MAE02)                      $26,198.19
  37.             Repairs to Damage
  38. 1394    John Deere 770D Grader (MAG01)                   $5,060.00
  39.             Repairs to Damage
  40. 1367    Freightliner Rigid Water Truck (MAW02)         $5,721.10
  41.     Repairs to Damage
  42. 1439    Freightliner Rigid Water Truck (MAW03)       $12,174.26
  43.     Repairs to Damage
  44. 1447    Freightliner Rigid Water Truck (MAW04)         $3,653.10
  45.     Repairs to Damage
  46. 1438    Volvo 25% Excavator (MAE03)                      $25,049.29
  47.                        Repairs to Damage
  48.                        Total                                                             $150,729.46
  49. (c)     On conclusion of the hire of the equipment, failed to deliver the equipment to the Plaintiff in the same (sic) in the condition in which it had been provided to the Defendant subject to fair wear and tear.
  50. Particulars
  51. The Plaintiff repeats the particulars to paragraph 9(b) above.

The Plaintiff has provided some particulars in response to the Request (“the Answer”). The parts of the Answer relevant to the current application are as follows:-

  1. 1.    In answer to paragraph 1(a) of the Request, the Plaintiff:
  2.        1.1.     in so far as the allegation relates to breaches of the Plant Hire Agreement as defined in the Further Amended Statement of Claim (“the Claim”):
  3.                    1.1.1. relies on:
  4.                                       1.1.1.1.       clause 6 of the said Plant Hire Agreement;
  5.                               1.1.1.2.       operating and maintenance manuals that were provided to the Defendant together with the Equipment and which were not returned to the Plaintiff; and
  6.                    1.1.2.  says that the Defendant should have performed daily servicing of all of the machines, which servicing ought have included:
  7.                               1.1.2.1.      checking all fluid levels;
  8.                               1.1.2.2.      cleaning of air filters;
  9.                               1.1.2.3.      checking for damage; and
  10.                               1.1.2.4.      greasing all mechanical joints.
  11.                    1.1.3.  says that the Defendant should have performed full services for each and every item of equipment as and when they fell due, as follows:
  12.                               1.1.3.1.       the excavators, front end loaders and graders at increments of 500 engine hours;
  13.                               1.1.3.2.       the water trucks at increments of 200 engine hours;
  14.        1.2.     in so far as the allegation relates to breaches of the “first agreement” as defined in the claim the Plaintiff says that is well established industry practice that hired construction equipment is to be serviced by the hirer:
  15.                    1.2.1.1.       in the manner provided for in paragraph 1.1.2. above, daily when in use; and
  16.                    1.2.1.2.       fully on each item of equipment attaining the engine hours provided for in paragraph 1.1.3. above.
  17.        1.3.     In answer to paragraph 1(b) of the Request, the Plaintiff repeats the matters set out in paragraph 1 above.
  18. 2.    Omitted
  19. 3.    As to paragraph 3 of the Request, the Plaintiff:
  20.        3.1.     says that the matters the subject of paragraph 3(a) have been adequately particularised; and
  21.        3.2.      in respect of paragraph 3(b):
  22.        3.3.     says that the damage occurred while the equipment was in the Defendant’s possession, custody and/or control;
  23.        3.4.     save as aforesaid say that the subject request is not a proper request for particulars as, inter alia, it relates to matters solely in the Defendant’s knowledge.
  24. 4.    As to paragraphs 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the Request, the Plaintiff repeats the matters set out in paragraph 2 above.

The Plaintiff concedes that the response to paragraph 6 of the Request is insufficient. For that reason, that part of the application was not argued. The Plaintiff has agreed to address that by further amending its Further Amended Statement of Claim.
The Plaintiff argues that the particulars sought in the Request beyond what has already been provided in the Answer seeks evidence and is not a proper request for particulars. The Plaintiff’s argument is based on the level of detail that has been provided and further detail that the Defendant seeks. That is not the correct test to apply. The rule is not so much that a party is prohibited from seeking evidence, but that it should not seek the manner of proof (see paragraph 3.6 above). Nonetheless the Plaintiff argues that sufficient particulars have been provided. Put simply the Plaintiff’s argument is that the breach alleged is based on the equipment being provided to the Defendant in good condition and that it was returned in a damaged condition. That is what the Plaintiff asserts are the material facts. The Plaintiff says that the damage has been identified and hence argues that the particulars provided are sufficient.
Although I acknowledge the extent of the detail included in the particulars to date, this argument however overlooks that the object of pleadings is to ensure the Defendant can ascertain the case that it must meet. The authorities clearly require that there be sufficient particulars of the damage. The faults with the pleading that I identify below lead me to conclude that the pleadings are not sufficient for that purpose.
Providing particulars by reference to external documents is an accepted and often convenient way to avoid setting out extensive detail in a pleading. Although I accept that particulars can be provided in this way, it remains a question of the sufficiency overall. The Plaintiff has attempted to do this in part in the current pleadings by reference to the manufacturer’s specifications or the vehicle manual, and to various identified invoices. The relevant invoices were in evidence before me as annexures to the Affidavit.
That approach is problematic in the current case. In the context of the manual or the manufacturer’s specifications referred to in the pleadings, I do not consider that it is sufficient to simply refer to “servicing by reference to manufacturers specification” or words to similar effect. At best that simply lists the totality of the work required to be performed, not the extent of the breach. In the context of the current dispute that does not inform the Defendant as to what the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant has omitted to be done, unless the Plaintiff alleges that none of the items specified in the manufacturer’s specifications were done. If that is the case then a simple amendment to the pleadings, coupled with provision of the manufacturer’s specifications will address the deficiency. The pleading must identify, whether by reference to an external document such as the manual or otherwise, the specific works the Defendant was required to do and which the Plaintiff alleges was not done.
Inconsistency between the pleading and the reference document detracts from the required level of clarity, or coherency as Mr Wyvill described it. For example, the particulars to paragraph 9(a) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim describe invoice number 1451 as being for “Servicing up to Manufacturers Specifications”. Invoice 1451 however particularises the work done as “Repairs…to bring servicing up to Manufactures (sic) Specifications…”. Hence there is inconsistency and the absence of details of those repairs means that it is not possible to determine whether the necessary causal connection between the alleged breach and those repairs is established.
Another complication is that there is a dispute concerning the whereabouts of the manuals or the manufacturer’s specifications. The Plaintiff alleges that one was provided with each item of equipment but none were returned (Answer paragraph 1.1.1.2). The Defendant denies that they were provided. It is inappropriate for the Court at this stage of the proceedings to attempt to resolve what is essentially a credit issue. In my view it remains for the Plaintiff to obtain and provide that manual at this stage of the proceedings. It is clearly available given that the Plaintiff’s contractors refer to them in the invoices.
The particulars to paragraph 9(b) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim are inconsistent and do not enable the Defendant to identify the alleged breach. Those particulars describe certain damage to “One water cart” (see paragraph 9(b)(I)) and they also refer to “the other water cart” (see paragraph 9(b)(II)). The invoices provided however identify three different water carts, not two, and there is inconsistency between the repairs described to the two to which the pleadings refer. There is no coherency and that is necessary to achieve the objective of defining the issues with clarity.
There are similar problems in respect of paragraph 9(b) of the Further Amended Statement of Claim, to which paragraph 3 of the Request and paragraph 3 of the Answer relates. The invoices referred to in the Further Amended Statement of Claim contain scant and inconsistent details. The Defendant complains that the initial problem with the pleading is that it is not possible to relate the vehicles referred to with the invoices that are specified. The relevant invoices are numbered 1367, 1394, 1435 – 1439 and 1447.
Examination of those invoices shows that the detail in invoices 1394 and 1435-1439 are insufficient in most parts. Mention has already been made of the inconsistency in respect of the repairs to the water cart as well as the claim for repairs for items which appear to be maintenance. Others appear to be wear and tear which I am told is not the Defendant’s responsibility under the agreements.
In all I consider that mostly the particulars are insufficient to meet the objectives of the pleadings and particulars for the reasons stated above. Specifically, any particulars containing generic references are insufficient. Instances in the Further Amended Statement of Claim are “servicing to manufacturers specifications”, “panel damage”, “mechanical damage”, “structural damage”, “transmission damage”, ‘minor repair works”,repairs to damage”. In respect of the Answer, I consider that paragraphs 1.1.1.2, 1.1.3.1, and 1.2.1.2 are insufficient for the same or similar reasons.
The Plaintiff has chosen to provide particulars by reference to various invoices, mostly uninformative ones, sent by the Plaintiff to the Defendant. The invoices for work done and reports from the Plaintiff’s repairer or quotes for repairs may have been a better option as they may have contained sufficient particulars. There is also a reference to an insurance claim in one of the invoices and perhaps reference to some documents allied to that may have been helpful. That to me appears to be a common sense way to provide the particulars required in this case. I expect that such documents would in the main be discoverable in any event.
In summary, in my view it is imperative that in relation to the particulars to paragraph 9 of the Further Amended Statement of Claim that the Plaintiff identifies the relevant vehicle, the particular damage suffered or the particular repair or maintenance work not performed.
The Request also seeks particulars as to time in paragraphs 1(a) and 1(b). Given the duration of the various hire periods and that the equipment was in the possession of the Defendant during those times, it is clearly impossible for the Plaintiff to specify precise dates that damage occurred or the like. Moreover, in light of the nature of the claim, the precise date that an individual item of loss occurred cannot be relevant. The Request is not clear and may be read as requiring particulars of precise dates. Mr Wyvill suggested that on a plain reading of the Request it seeks particulars of the relevant hire period and not specific dates. He argues that the Request will be satisfactorily answered if the Plaintiff simply identifies the hire period during which such events occurred. That however is not how I read the Request as it presently stands, Mr Wyvill’s submission notwithstanding. It would have been quite simple to clearly state that if that was what was required. Although I agree that had a proper request been made, the Plaintiff would be obliged to particularise the relevant hire period in each case, as the Request presently stands, I would not order the Plaintiff to provide the particulars requested in paragraphs 1(b) and 3(b) of the Request. An amendment to the Request will first be required.
Subject to the aforesaid I am of the view that paragraph 9 of the Further Amended Statement of Claim is deficient. The deficiency of paragraph 12 of the Further Amended Statement of Claim has been conceded. In my view therefore the appropriate order is that the Plaintiff be given leave to further amend the Statement of Claim. I will hear the parties as to the time frame for that and for any consequential orders.
I will also hear the parties as to costs.


[2008] NTSC 4

(1977) 136 CLR 214

[1972] 2 QB 611

[2001] WASCA 361

[2001] WASCA 361

(1982) 148 CLR 658

(1910) 11 CLR 738

[2000] NTSC 2

(1982) 148 CLR 658

(1969) 3 All ER 479

(1977) 136 CLR 214

[2008] NTSC 4