Chu Yik Man v S Rajagopal & Co and Another

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChan Sek Keong JC
Judgment Date30 December 1986
Neutral Citation[1986] SGHC 50
Citation[1986] SGHC 50
Defendant CounselDavid Hew and S Rajagopal (S Rajagopal & Co)
Plaintiff CounselChoo Kwun Kiat (Choo & Yap)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1323 of
Date30 December 1986
Subject MatterClaim for return of 10% deposit,Whether satisfactory reply to requisition,Conditions of sale,Whether agreement for sale null and void,Road widening below 10%,Conveyance,Road widening below 10% of area,Land,Legal requisitions,Property affected by road widening,Sale of land

This is another one of those cases on the vexed question of what is a satisfactory reply to a requisition in a contract for the sale and purchase of properties. Disputes of this nature have frequently come before the courts in the last few years and will continue to do so unless conveyancers in Singapore take some trouble to revise the drafting of this condition and make its meaning clearer or its intent more specific.

In this case, the plaintiff entered into an agreement for sale dated 3 September 1986 to purchase from the second defendant the property known as 101 Siglap Road, Singapore, which is a two-storey bungalow erected on Lot 454-96 of Mukim 26 which has an area of 943.2 sq m at the price of $600,000.
Special Condition C of the agreement reads as follows:

The property is sold subject to the satisfactory replies to the requisitions to the Local Authorities and the Provisional Mass Rapid Transit Authority being received by the Purchaser and...No reply from the authorities to the Purchaser`s legal requisitions shall be construed to be unsatisfactory if any notice under any Statutory Enactment affecting the said property and served prior to the date of completion of this Agreement is capable of being complied with.

On or about 3 October 1986, the plaintiff`s solicitors received a duly answered legal requisition (Form DC9 (DO)-5) from the Development and Building Control Division (DBCD) to the effect that the property was not affected by (a) any approved road proposal or (b) any approved back-lane proposal or (c) any approved drainage proposal or (d) any Government Gazette Notification.
However, on 11 October 1986 the said solicitors received from the Roads Planning & Design Branch, Roads Division, Public Works Department, a road interpretation plan on which was noted that part of the property was `Land required for Road Widening` and that the road concerned, viz Siglap Road was a Category 4 Road, ie a major road of a required minimum width of 7.6 metres. On the plan itself is a notation which reads as follows:

The information given on the plan forms the best information available on 3 October 1986 and is liable to change without notice.

It is not in dispute that the area that is or might be affected by road widening is 94 sq m - which is just below 10% of the area of the land.
The affected land does not affect any part of the building which is sited far from the road and nearer to the rear boundary.

On these facts, the plaintiff has come to court for a declaration that the agreement for sale be declared null and void and for an order for the return of the 10% deposit.
His counsel submitted that a loss of 10% of the land renders the reply to the requisition unsatisfactory. He referred to three High Court decisions in Tatlien Hardware v Tan & Lie & Anor [1982] 1 MLJ 9 , Teo Hong Choo v Chin Kiang Industries [1983] 2 MLJ 309 , and Peh Kwee Yong v Sinar Co [1984] 2 MLJ 260 in which similar issues relating to replies to requisitions were decided. He submitted that on the basis of these authorities and on the facts, the reply to the requisition in this case was unsatisfactory. Counsel for the defendants, on the other hand, submitted that the reply could not be regarded as unsatisfactory because (a) the answer in the relevant requisition stated that there was no approved road proposal affecting the property and that the road interpretation plan and the notation thereon are not requisitions or replies to requisitions; (b) alternatively, if there were a road widening scheme, there was no evidence that it would be implemented in the foreseeable future; and (c) the area affected would be less than 10% of the total area and that the road widening would, if carried out, enhance the value of the property in giving a wider road frontage to the land.

I do not agree with counsel for the defendants that the road interpretation plan and the notes thereon do not constitute a reply to a requisition.
A requisition is merely an application made to the competent authorities for certain information to be supplied. For convenience, the form of the requisition has been standardised by each of the relevant authorities. A request for a road interpretation plan whether or not made pursuant to the standard form of requisition is as much a requisition as Form DC9 (DO)-5 and any reply from the competent authorities, whether contained in the said plan or by separate correspondence, is a reply to a requisition. This point, although not argued, was assumed in the three reported cases referred to earlier. In my view, this is an unarguable point.

I also do not agree with the submission that a wider road frontage in the present case enhances the value of the property.
The road interpretation plan shows that the road widening will merely result in the property having a straighter frontage and not a wider frontage. In my opinion, the road widening will result in a dimunition in the area of the property (and therefore its overall value) without any compensating increase in value in some other way as a result of the road widening.

I turn now to a consideration of these authorities.
In Tatlien`s case, the properties were as zoned for local shopping and were purchased on the...

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12 cases
  • Chuan Bee Realty Pte Ltd v Teo Chee Yeow Aloysius and Another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 13 Mayo 1996
    ......It was overstated by more than 11%. The circumstances are also quite unlike those in Watson v Burton [1957] 1 WLR 19 where the discrepancy was more than 66%. Chu Yik Man v S Rajagopal & Co & Anor [1987] 2 MLJ 557 was concerned with whether the purchaser would get what he had bargained for and it was held that in the circumstances of the case he would not by reason of a loss of just under 10% or 94 sq m out of 943.2 sq m of the land. In contrast a loss of 329 sq ft out of ......
  • Tay Theng Khoon and Another v Lee Kim Tah (Pte) Ltd
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 6 Marzo 1992
    ....... . . . The factors involved in an objective determination of whether a reply to a legal requisition is satisfactory have, in our view, been correctly set out by the High Court in Chu Yik Man v S Rajagopal & Co & Anor [1987] 2 MLJ 557 In the view of the High Court, the phrase `satisfactory reply to requisitions` . . .. is intended to give the purchaser substantially what he has bargained for, taking into account his purpose in purchasing the property and such other circumstances ......
  • Ang Boh Seng and Others v Ang Kok Kuan
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 10 Septiembre 1992
    ...was without any substance, it was dismissed: at [50]. Button's Lease, In re [1964] Ch 263 (folld) Chu Yik Man v S Rajagopal & Co [1985-1986] SLR (R) 1164; [1986] SLR 534 (folld) Flureau v Thornhill (1776) 2 WmBl 1078 (folld) Mountford v Scott [1975] Ch 258 (folld) Peh Kwee Yong v Sinar Co (......
  • Ang Kok Kuan v Ang Boh Seng and Others
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 20 Agosto 1993
    ......Mr Yong advised the plaintiffs to find for themselves another lawyer.On 5 December 1983, the plaintiffs engaged Murphy & Dunbar to act for them, who in turn notified R Ramason of the same. We ought to add that ...There was no proposal as yet for any road widening.In Chu Yik Man v S Rajagopal & Co & Anor 3 where the affected area was just below 10% but where the road line did not affect any structure and there was no approved road ......
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