SINGAPORE – A chronic legal expression that lasted about 40 years between Lee Tat Development and the management corporation (MCST) of the Grange Heights apartment building on the right of access to a strip of land of 883 square meters, has been concluded with an Apex court of five Judges. the profession of developer.
Although the court put an end to the protracted struggle, he said the case raised issues of legal significance.
"This lawsuit is in fact overwhelmed with irony and legal significance," wrote Judge Andrew Phang on behalf of the court of appeal.
"It is ironic that a dispute that has been bitterly fought over for decades by two parties who have nothing but personal badwill towards each other raised questions about the first interest in the development of customary law in general and tort law in particular, "he added in assessment grounds on 17 August.
The dispute began in 1974 when Lee Tat's predecessor, Collin Development, sought a court order that Hong Leong Holdings, the developer of Grange Heights, had no right of way across the strip of land to Grange Road.
In 2005, the Court of Appeal had held that residents of Grange Heights had a right of way, but this decision was overruled three years later.
On the basis of that verdict, Lee Tat challenged prosecution against the MCST in the Supreme Court in 2012.
She claimed damages for the allegedly malicious persecution by MCST of two previous actions to assert the right of way and for allegedly abusing the trial of the court by asserting that right in four previous actions.
Lee Tat also disputed the MCST for allegedly malicious lies and for forbidden grounds on Lee Tat's property by using the strip of land until the Court of Appeal decision in December 2008.
Justice Kannan Ramesh rejected Lee Tat's costume in May last year and then urged the parties to "close this lengthy and complicated chapter and move on to other productive efforts".
Instead, Lee Tat appealed, leading to a rare panel of five judges including Appeal Judges Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang, Senior Judge Chao Hick Tin and Justice Chan Seng Onn who heard the case in February this year.
Lee Tat's lawyers Senior Counsel (SC) Chelva Rajah and Ernest Balasubramaniam argued inter alia for compensation of the opportunity costs of not being able to develop two relevant plots of land for more than a decade because of the actions of the MCST.
Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng and lawyers Jocelyn Ngiam and Chia Shi Jin appeared for MCST, while Professor Gary Chan, professor at the University of Singapore, served as amicus curiae – a friend of the court – who was appointed to conduct research and opinions. present relevant issues.
In a 105-page ruling, the Apex court that has a party does not have the right to claim compensation for the malicious prosecution of civil proceedings against him, except in very limited and defined cases, as opposed to the case of Lee Tat.
The court also rejected the claim for the tort of process abuse with the explanation that such a move "encourages satellite disputes and prolongs disputes, especially between parties that have hostility between them".
It pointed out that existing rules of civil procedure exist to deal with different aspects of litigation by courts.
"If we, as Lee Tat had urged, recognized the tribulations of malicious persecution or abuse of the trial, but had found Lee Tat about the relevant facts (as we have indeed done), then Lee Tat sowed the seeds from his own hands. future proceedings against the MCST on the basis of this very same unlawful act.
"Such a procedure would have continued indefinitely with the parties taking turns to claim plaintiff" given the long and fragile relationship between Lee Tat and the MCST.
SC Tan said on Monday (August 20) that the feud has set a record with no fewer than six decisions of the Court of Appeal that relate to many interesting facets of the law, "some untrodden".
"We can easily have a separate section of the legal reports only for these two parties. I sincerely hope that neither party will see another day in court."
The decision of the Apex court is final.