Eng Chuan & Co and Another v Four Seas Communications Bank Ltd

JudgeLord Brandon of Oakbrook
Judgment Date29 March 1982
Neutral Citation[1982] SGPC 2
Docket NumberPrivy Council Appeal No 53 of 1980
Date29 March 1982
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselAlan Sebestyen
Citation[1982] SGPC 2
Defendant CounselR Johnson QC and D Le Pichon
CourtPrivy Council
Subject MatterWhether partners of business contractual tenants or statutory tenants,Creation of tenancy,s 14 Control of Rent Act (Cap 266),Rent-controlled premises leased to business,Landlord and Tenant,Bank claiming for recovery of possession

This appeal is brought in proceedings commenced by the respondents (the bank) in the District Court of Singapore against the appellants and two other defendants, who have since dropped out, to recover possession of premises, Nos 61, 61A and 61B Chulia Street, Singapore (the premises). The first appellants, sued in the firm`s name `Eng Chuan and Co` (the firm), are three individuals, Lee Chay Tian, Lee Chay Kia and Lee Chay Song (the personal appellants), who claim to have been statutory tenants of the premises at the date of commencement of the proceedings on 6 April 1977, and so protected by s 14 of the Control of Rent Act (Cap 266) from recovery of possession of the premises by their landlord, the bank. The other appellants do not claim to have been at any time tenants or sub-tenants or to be entitled to possession of the premises or any part thereof; such use as any of them made of the premises was at all relevant times as licensees of the firm only. The only issue in this appeal is whether the personal appellants sued in the name of the firm are statutory tenants of the bank; and this depends on whether immediately before 29 February 1976, when notice to quit served on them in the firm name by the bank expired, the personal appellants were in possession of the premises under an oral contractual monthly tenancy.

The bank`s title to the reversion to the contractual tenancy, prior to what the personal appellants claimed to be its conversion into a statutory tenancy under the Control of Rent Act, was never put in issue, nor was the derivation of the bank`s title to the freehold interest in the premises which it acquired in 1964 a matter of dispute.
In the result the significance of the bank`s own root of title does not appear to have emerged in the course of the hearing before the district judge; and oral evidence was given, without objection, by witnesses for both the bank and the firm of matters which ought in strictness to have been proved by documentary evidence. From this evidence it is possible to follow, albeit somewhat sketchily, the conveyancing history of the reversion to whatever oral monthly tenancy existed from time to time since the first oral monthly tenancy was granted in what was to become the firm name `Eng Chuan and Co` to a single trader, Lee Siew Pan, who was then trading under that name as a retailer of provisions.

The original owner of the reversion and landlord of the premises, when the first oral monthly tenancy was granted to Lee Siew Pan in his business name of Eng Chuan and Co, was someone called Tan Chu Hean; but he sold the reversion in 1948 or 1949 to another individual Chin Hwa Hin, who was also a provision dealer.
In January 1951, Eng...

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2 cases
  • Malaya Cafe Bar & Restaurant v Shaw Brothers Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 December 1990
    ...[1968] 2 MLJ 31 (refd) Chartered Bank (M) Trustee v Abu Bakar [1957] MLJ 40 (distd) Eng Chuan & Co v Four Seas Communications Bank [1981-1982] SLR (R) 419; [1982-1983] SLR 8 (refd) Lai Seng Fook v Tang Kong Low [1977-1978] SLR (R) 275; [1978-1979] SLR 40 (refd) Control of Rent Act (Cap 58, ......
  • Narayanan v MB Vellayappa Chettiar
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 14 November 1984
    ... ... was upheld by the Privy Council, in Eng Chuan & Co & Ors v Four Seas Communications Bank Ltd ... ...

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