Sat, Nov 27, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Court slaps down airline's legal battle in Singapore

DPA AND CNA , SINGAPORE AND TAIPEI

Singapore Airlines (SIA) was stopped from continuing its legal battle in Singapore stemming from the crash of a plane in Taiwan four years ago.

A Singapore High Court ruling published yesterday said Taiwan is "the more appropriate forum."

Justice Woo Bih Li granted Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) application for a stay of SIA's legal actions in Singapore, pending the outcome of a separate suit in Taiwan, and ordered SIA to pay the costs of the application.

The Los Angeles-bound Boeing 747 crashed after taking a wrong turn onto a partially closed runway. It hit a crane and concrete barrier in the crash killing 83 people on October 31, 2000.

SIA last year filed a separate suit against the CAA in Taiwan, alleging that poor signals and signage facilities at CKS International Airport had led the plane to take the wrong turn.

"In my view, the fact that SIA has not elected to proceed exclusively in either Taiwan or Singapore is neither here nor there because it is still carrying on with both actions and that gives rise to a duplicity of actions," Woo said in his ruling published in The Straits Times.

Last year SIA, defending itself against lawsuits brought by survivors and families of the victims, included the CKS airport authority as a third party to indemnify itself against any payout.

The High Court decision means the airline will have to foot any payout in lawsuits against it as CAA is no longer a third party.

Loo Choon Chiaw, the CAA's lawyer, had argued the Taiwanese courts should hear SIA's claims.

Loo said the ruling was significant. The airport authority was "extremely pleased" with the court's decision, he added.

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