Chew Ming Teck v Collector of Land Revenue and Another

JudgeLord Bridge of Harwich
Judgment Date21 March 1991
Neutral Citation[1991] SGPC 2
Docket NumberPrivy Council Appeal No 12 of
Date21 March 1991
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselDavid Widdicombe QC and Harry Wee
Citation[1991] SGPC 2
Defendant CounselMalcolm Spence and Anand Karthigesu,Solicitors: Kingsford Stacey; Turner Kenneth Brown; Taylor Joynson Garrett.
CourtPrivy Council
Subject MatterWhether value of interest nominal,Compensation payable,Preliminary issue,Land,ss 8(3), 10(1), 15, 27, 29 & 33(1)(d) Land Acquisition Act 1966,Whether lessee of building sub-lease had interest,Non fulfilment due to acquisition,Grant of lease upon building's completion,Building sub-lease,Compulsory acquisitions,Duty to adduce evidence of value,Whether Collector of Land Revenue's decision was erroneous

Cur Adv Vult

The second respondents (the trustees) are the trustees of the estate of Syed Mohammed bin Ahmed Alsagoff. The trustees are the leaseholders, for the unexpired period of 999 years, commencing in 1890, of a substantial plot of land (the land) fronting on Orchard Road in Singapore, the freeholder being the estate of Edwin Koek. On the land there are some two storey semi-permanent shophouses in a poor state of repair, which are occupied and are subject to the Control of Rent Act (Cap 58). Orchard Road is however an important commercial centre in Singapore, and the trustees regarded it as ripe for development. Accordingly on 15 June 1968 the trustees entered into an agreement in the nature of a building sub-lease with the appellant, Chew Ming Teck, who is a developer. Under the agreement, the trustees demised the land to the appellant, subject to the rights of the occupiers of the shophouses on the land, for a period of five years (with an option to the appellant to extend that period for a further four years), the appellant covenanting (1) to pay to the trustees an annual premium of $15,300.63; (2) to negotiate, settle and pay compensation (at his expense) to the occupiers of the shophouses, with a view to obtaining vacant possession of them; and (3) to pay all rates, taxes, etc on the land during the period of the lease. If the appellant successfully obtained vacant possession of the whole of the land, he was bound immediately to remove the existing buildings and works on the land, and to erect a multi-storey building of a certain specification upon it. Upon completion of the new building, the trustees were bound to grant to the appellant a lease for a term of 30 years upon terms set out in a schedule of the agreement, which provided, inter alia, that the appellant had the option to extend that term for two further periods of 30 years each. If the appellant failed to obtain the requisite planning and other consents to enable the development to take place, the appellant was entitled to determine the lease so granted to him.

On 18 July 1968, the appellant`s architects submitted an application for planning approval for a 12-storey shopping/hotel building with a car park; and on 17 September 1968 he paid a security deposit of $106,000 to the Chief Building Supervisor.
Following discussions with the planning authorities, a revised scheme was submitted on 7 July 1969 for an eight-storey shopping centre/office building with a car park. However on 21 October 1969 the appellant was informed that planning approval for the proposed development was refused on the ground that `the site` is affected by a redevelopment scheme for the area. The appellant filed an appeal against this decision. In response, the Chief Building Surveyor submitted a written statement in which it was stated that the reason for refusal was based on the fact that the site was likely to be acquired for development by the Urban Redevelopment Department. The statement continued:

... as far as planning/technical requirements are concerned, the proposed site is within the main shopping zone of the master plan, and therefore, there will be no particular objection to the development of the site for a shopping centre/office building. With regard to other technical requirements, like plot ratio, car parks, the applicant has taken these into account.

However on 24 June 1970, the government gazetted a declaration for the acquisition of the land.
The appellant`s appeal was heard on 6 October 1970 and dismissed on 28 October 1970. His deposit was returned. Objections made earlier by him to the acquisition of the land, in which he pointed out that his proposed development was similar to that now proposed by the Urban Redevelopment Department, had also been rejected.

Meanwhile, by letters dated 20 August and 8 September 1970, the Collector of Land Revenue (the Collector), who is the first respondent in the present appeal, invited claims for compensation from the trustees and the appellant under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 1966 (the Act).
It is necessary now to set out the most relevant provisions of the Act.

When land is compulsorily acquired in Singapore, the Collector is required to give notice that claims to compensation for all interest in the land may be made to him.
By s 8(3) of the Act, such notice:

(a) shall state the particulars of the land; and

(b) shall require all persons interested in such land -

(i) to appear personally or by any person authorized in writing in that behalf before the Collector at the time and place mentioned in such notice, such time not being earlier than twenty-one days after the date of the notice; and

(ii) to state the nature of their respective interests in the land, the amount and particulars of their claims to compensation for those interests, the basis or mode of valuation by which the amount claimed is arrived at, and their objections, if any, to the measurements made under section 7.

The measurements so referred to are measurements made by the Collector of the land.

Thereafter under s 10(1) the Collector shall proceed on the appointed day to enquire, inter alia:

Into the value of the land and into the respective interests of the persons claiming the compensation, and shall, as soon as possible after the conclusion of the enquiry, make an award under his hand of -

(a) the area of the land;

(b) the compensation which in his opinion should be allowed for the said land;

(c) the apportionment of the said compensation among all the persons known or believed to be interested in the land, of whom or of whose claims he has information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him.

Section 15 provides that, in determining the amount of compensation, the Collector shall take into consideration the matters mentioned in s 33 of the Act and shall not take into consideration the matters mentioned in s 34.
For present purposes, it is relevant to observe that the matters mentioned in s 33 show that compensation is to be based essentially on the market value of the land at the relevant date; and that loss of earnings is referred to only in s 33(1)(d) which refers to:

the damage, if any, sustained by the person interested at the time of the Collector`s taking possession of the land by reason of the acquisition injuriously affecting his other property, whether movable or immovable, in any other manner or his actual earnings.

Provision is made in Pt III of the Act for appeals in respect of awards made by the Collector.
For that purpose, one or more appeal boards are constituted, consisting of a Commissioner of Appeals or a Deputy Commissioner of Appeals, either sitting alone or with two assessors. Any person interested, who is aggrieved by an award by the Collector, may lodge a notice of appeal; this is then sent to the Collector, who must thereupon lodge with the Registrar of the board his grounds of award. After the hearing of an appeal, the board has power (under s 27(3) of the Act) to confirm, reduce, increase or annul the award or to make such order thereon as may seem fit. Provision is made (in s 29) that, where the amount of the award exceeds $5,000, the appellant or the Collector may appeal to the appellate court from the decision of the board upon any question of law; and (under s 30(1)) the board may state a case on a question of law for the opinion of the appellate court. Section 38(1) provides that, when the amount of compensation has been settled and there is any dispute as to the apportionment thereof, the Commissioner sitting alone shall decide the proportions in which the persons interested are entitled to share in such amounts; and by s 38(2) an appeal shall lie from such decision to the appellate court.

The notice given by the Collector to the trustees and to the appellant was made in accordance with 8(3) of the Act.
There followed correspondence between the Collector and solicitors acting for the appellant. The appellant`s solicitors first submitted a claim for compensation which consisted of items of wasted expenditure, and also a claim for loss of...

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1 cases
  • Ng Boo Tan v Collector of Land Revenue
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2002
    ... ... another settled principle of ... interpretation of statutes. The principle is that ... – Chew Ming Teck v Collector of Land Revenue and anor [1988] SLR 118. It was a ... ...

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