Issue 80 - Sept 2017
Book Review: Ong on Contribution

Ong_On_Contribution_book.jpgAuthor: Denis SK Ong

Publisher: The Federation Press 

Reviewer: Dan Butler

Ong on Contribution, as the title suggests, examines, in detail, the doctrine of contribution.

Professor Ong is a prolific author and, thereby, no doubt already known to a number of practitioners. Ong on Contribution is his sixth text in the field of equity, his earlier works being Trusts Law in Australia, now in its fourth edition, Ong on Equity, Ong on Specific Performance, Ong on Subrogation and Ong on Rescission.

Professor Ong’s latest work adopts the distinctive style from his earlier texts - an in-depth and insightful analysis of the principles arising from the leading Australian and UK decisions. Of great assistance to practitioners is that key passages from those decisions are reproduced. As with his earlier work, Professor Ong subjects the authorities to insightful analysis and is not shy to question the reasoning in some of those decisions.

The text is divided into 6 chapters. It begins by considering the right to contribution at common law and in equity (chapter 1). Chapter 2 addresses in detail the need for ‘co-ordinate liabilities’ to enliven the right to contribution.

Chapters 3 to 6 then deal with specific applications of the doctrine. Thus, chapter 3 examines the right to contribution as between co-sureties, including a useful discussion of the distinction between a release and a covenant not to sue. The right to contribution as between co-insurers is the focus of chapter 4. Chapter 5 then considers co-sureties in relation to bills of exchange. Finally, chapter 6 deals with other situations in which a right of contribution arises, including as between partners and as between co-trustees.

In conclusion, although the work is relatively brief at 180 pages, Ong on Contribution is an excellent text which is available at $125 direct from the publisher. It would be a welcome addition to any chambers’ library.