Fong Chong Cheng v Public Trustee

JudgeJ W D Ambrose J
Judgment Date07 July 1967
Neutral Citation[1967] SGFC 17
Citation[1967] SGFC 17
Defendant CounselPo Guan Hock (Wee Swee Teow & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselNA Mallal and Tan Peng Khoo (Oehlers & Choa)
Date07 July 1967
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No Y16 of 1965
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterLimitation of Actions,Effect of Limitation Ordinance 1959 (No 57 of 1959) -Whether ordinance has retrospective effect

The plaintiff is the administrator of the estate of one Mildred Edith D`Almeida (hereinafter referred to as `the deceased`) who died in the year 1944 intestate. Letters of administration of the deceased`s estate were granted to the plaintiff on 30 July 1962. At the time of her death the deceased was the owner of the lands and premises known as Lot 153-4 of Town Sub-div XVII together with the houses erected thereon and known as Nos 221 and 223 Kallang Road, Singapore (hereinafter referred to as `the said hereditaments`).

By an indenture of lease dated 25 August 1934 the said hereditaments were leased to the defendant for a term of ten years commencing from 1 June 1934 at a monthly rent of $120.
The deceased was a person of unsound mind and the rent was paid by the defendant to various persons who were appointed committee of the deceased`s estate with power to manage the same. The lease expired on 31 May 1944 and it is clear that no rent was paid by the defendant after that date.

On 1 July 1964 the plaintiff issued a writ against the defendant claiming, inter alia, a declaration that the plaintiff as the administrator of the deceased`s estate was entitled to the said hereditaments.
Pleadings were filed and the defendant by his defence contended that the plaintiff`s alleged claim or right of action was barred by the Limitation Ordinance 1959 and that the plaintiff`s right and title, if any, to the said hereditaments were extinguished by virtue of the provisions of that Ordinance. The action was duly heard and in the result the learned trial judge made the declaration asked for by the plaintiff and also granted him certain other reliefs which he had claimed. It is against this decision that this appeal has been brought by the defendant.

In his grounds of judgment the learned judge expressed the view that in the circumstances of this case the Limitation Ordinance 1959 had no retrospective effect.
It is necessary to consider whether this is a correct view of the law.

As a result of the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Limitation (Amendment) Ordinance 1949 was enacted.
This provided, inter alia, that in computing the period of limitation prescribed for any suit the period commencing on 15 February 1942 and ending on 30 September 1949 should be excluded. In this case, therefore, time began to run as from 1 October 1949 and the relevant twelve year period came to an end on 30 September 1961.

The affairs of the deceased`s estate were placed in the

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