Ong on Contribution is Professor Denis SK Ong’s sixth treatise in the field of equity. With its rigorous, yet accessible, approach to this complex area of law Ong on Contribution is a perfect supplement to his earlier acclaimed works: Trusts Law in Australia (now in its 4th edition), Ong on Equity, Ong on Specific Performance, Ong on Subrogation and Ong on Rescission.
The text offers a thorough study of the doctrine of contribution at common law and in Equity (though it does not deal with contribution between tortfeasors). Topics addressed include: an exploration of the fact that co-ordinate liabilities are essential to the right of contribution; the right of contribution between co-sureties; the right of contribution between co-insurers; and the right to contribution in relation to bills of exchange.
As in his earlier works, the book offers a succinct exposition of all the key relevant principles of law, facilitated by a careful analysis of all the leading authorities. To assist the reader, the essential passages of judgments under consideration are reproduced.
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes
1. Right of Contribution at Common Law and in Equity
2. Co-ordinate Liabilities Essential to Right to Contribution
5. Co-Sureties in Respect of Bills of exchange
6. Other Categories of Contribution
Dan Butler, Hearsay, September 2017, 80Ong 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 … it would be a welcome addition to any chambers’ library.
Queensland Law Reporter – 2 December 2016 –  47 QLRThis short treatise on the right to contribution at common law and in equity adds to the author’s previous contributions to specific and complex topics in equity.
Professor Ong, in his distinctive style, approaches each aspect of his topic by engaging directly with the leading cases, and subjecting them to a critical and insightful analysis. Where they fall short, as in his view did Gaudron ACJ and Hayne J in Burke v LFOT Pty Limited (2002) 209 CLR 282 by confusing the notions of co-ordinate liability and common liability, he is not backwards in making his point.
The first two chapters are dedicated to a discussion of the right to contribution in principle. Each of the following chapters are then concerned with particular categories of that right, namely, in chapter 3, the right as between co-sureties, in chapter 4, the right as between co- insurers, in chapter 5, the right as between co-sureties in relation to bills of exchange, and, in chapter 6, other categories of right, including as between co-trustees and partners. The text does not, however deal with the right to contribution as between tortfeasors.
It is likely to be of use to interested practitioners or academics looking for new insight or understanding in this complex and at times difficult area of law.