AFTER three months of deliberation, Justice Choo Han Teck has delivered a 31-page judgment that – for now – signals the end of the Gillman Heights en-bloc saga.
However, it was not the outcome hoped for by the 22 minority owners seeking to scupper the S$548 million deal.
The judge said the specific issue was not one concerning protection for the minority, but “whether a privatised HUDC estate can participate in the benefits of an en-bloc sale if the requisite conditions are met”.
Under current laws, a 90 per cent approval is required for estates less than 10 years old and 80 per cent for those older.
Some 87.5 per cent of the 608 unit owners had agreed to the sale of Gillman Heights, built in 1984.
On the issue of the estate’s age, which the plaintiffs claimed was less than 10 years old since the condo only underwent privatisation in 1995 and acquired the Temporary Occupation Permits or Certificates of Strata Completion (CSC) in 2002, the judge ruled that the estate was more than 10 years old.
He said that there was also no bad faith and breach of natural justice due to the involvement of the National University of Singapore (NUS), which held 46.86 per cent share at the development.
Five months after the en-bloc sale was inked in February last year, it emerged that NUS was also a shareholder of Gillman Heights’ purchaser Ankerite Pte Ltd.
While some owners claimed this was a conflict of interest, Justice Choo said NUS was entitled to exercise its right as a consenting subsidiary proprietor (CSP) to vote for the collective sale.
He added: “The minority CSPs were duly noted of the NUS vote and execution of the collective sale agreement about six weeks before the application for approval was submitted to the Strata Titles Board.”
Futhermore, Gillman Heights was sold before property prices skyrocketed last year, so “it would not be appropriate for the Board or this court to assess good faith with regard to the sale price of the development through the lens of hindsight”.
Despite the setback, one minority owner – who declined to be named – said he is not giving up the fight.
“Many of us are still disappointed by the conflict of interest and we will stick it out till the end and take this case to the Court of Appeals.”
But Lee & Lee senior partner Quek Mong Hua, who represented the majority owners, said: “They have every right to appeal, but they have to consider if it is in their interest bearing in mind the cost.”
For now, Mr Quek said his clients were happy the judgement is out and they are hoping to complete the sale. – TODAY
Source : Channel NewsAsia – 25 Jun 2008