[b]Goodluck Garden appeal dismissed, sale to go ahead[/b]

[B]Court of Appeal agrees with High Court that although there were missteps, there was no bad faith in the transaction[/b]

Fri, Mar 08, 2019


GOODLUCK Garden's en bloc is still on after an appeal by some dissenting owners was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Thursday, sources told The Business Times.

This follows a lengthy dispute over the fate of the Toh Tuck Road condo, which Qingjian Realty bought for S$610 million in March 2018. Some owners had registered objections leading to the Strata Titles Boards (STB) to issue a stop order.

The sale received the green light from the High Court in November. In his judgment, Justice Woo Bih Li said that he found there was no bad faith, though he said the conduct of the collective sales committee (CSC), marketing agent and the lawyers for the CSC "wanting in various respects".

One point of contention had been the development charges (DC) for the property. Marketing agent Knight Frank previously gave homeowners several estimates, the highest being S$63.19 million, and launched the tender before getting an official response from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) about the actual amount of DC.

The CSC found out from the authorities that there would in fact be no DC payable before the tender closed. But this was only disclosed to owners after the sale and purchase agreement with Qingjian was signed, "because it did not cross (Knight Frank and CSC's) minds to disclose that information to the subsidiary proprietors earlier" according to an oral transcript on Thursday.

In affirming the decision by the High Court, Justices of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang, Steven Chong and Belinda Ang said they agreed with the High Court that the development charge was important to potential bidders and that it was material to the subsidiary proprietors.

They said: "We agree with the High Court that in not considering whether to disclose, Knight Frank and the CSC acted wrongly but we also agree with the High Court that the evidence before the Court did not support a finding that the transaction was not in good faith."

They also said they were concerned about the "missteps" made, as Justice Woo put it. They added: "We are surprised by the suggestion before the High Court that the development charge to be imposed on a property has little or no bearing on the reserve price or the bid price for that property.

The Justices of Appeal also ordered that the parties pay their own costs for the proceedings in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal.

Justice Woo had said in November he would take into account the "missteps and the way in which the litigation was conducted by both sides" when deciding the question of costs and disbursements.

The collective sale scene here as of late has been subdued, with just a handful of transactions since July's cooling measures.

Each owner of Goodluck Garden will stand to receive a gross sale price of about S$924,000 to S$3.51 million upon the successful sale.

Rajah & Tann is the law firm for the collective sale committee and majority owners; TSMP Law Corporation's Adrian Tan represented the objectors.