Leong Mei Chuan v Chan Teck Hock David

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date08 February 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGCA 9
Citation[2001] SGCA 9
Plaintiff CounselTan Hin Tat, Janaine Ong and V Kanyakumari (Sim Hill Tan & Wong)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 71 of 2000,Civil Appeals Nos 600059 and
Defendant CounselAnamah Tan and Veronica Ann Joseph (Ann Tan & Associates)
Date16 January 2002
Subject MatterO 55C Rules of Court,Notice,Amendment,Appeals,Civil Procedure,Whether application to amend notice of appeal should be allowed

(delivering the grounds of judgment of the court): Facts

The appellant, Leong Mei Chuan (`Madam Leong`), married the respondent, David Chan Teck Hock (`Mr Chan`) on 21 September 1983 in Singapore. They have three children from this marriage. In 1997 their marriage broke down. On 21 November 1997, Madam Leong filed divorce proceedings in DP 3777/97 against Mr Chan on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down, alleging that Mr Chan had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him. A supplemental petition was later filed on 29 July 1998 alleging further that Mr Chan had committed adultery and that Madam Leong found it intolerable to live with him. Mr Chan did not contest the petition, and a decree nisi was granted to Madam Leong on 24 September 1998. The ancillary issues in respect of the custody of children, maintenance of Madam Leong and the children and division of matrimonial assets were adjourned to be heard in chambers. They were subsequently heard in chambers by District Judge Emily Wilfred in November and December 1999. Amongst the issues canvassed before the district judge was the division of certain stock options in Dell Corporation in which Mr Chan was an employee at the material time. These options fell into three broad categories, namely, (1) those that had vested in Mr Chan and had been exercised by him; (2) those that had vested in him but had not been exercised; and (3) those that had not as yet vested.

On 20 January 2000, the district judge delivered her decision on the ancillary issues, and made, among others, the following orders:

...

5 The petitioner shall be entitled to 15% of the respondent`s Dell stocks, namely:

(a) 111,100 shares purchased from the open market and valued at US$4,575,986.80 as at 4 November 1999;

(b) 10,821 shares bought from the Employee Stock Purchase Plan valued at US$445,695 as at 4 November 1999;

(c) gains of Dell shares vested and exercised by respondent under the Non-Statutory Option Agreement Scheme, amounting to US$2,573,328 less tax to be paid on such gains (proof of demand of payment from IRAS);

6 There shall be no division of Dell stocks in the Non-Statutory Stock Option Agreements which have yet to be vested in the respondent.



Thus, in relation to Mr Chan`s stock options, the district judge dealt with those stock options that had vested in him and had been exercised by him and those that had not vested. No order, however, was made by her for a division of those stock options that had vested in Mr Chan but had not been exercised by him.

Both Mr Chan and Madam Leong appealed against the decision of the district judge. In the notice of appeal filed by or on behalf of Madam Leong (in RAS 720013/2000) she sought, among other things, an order for the following:

2 The petitioner be entitled to a greater share than 15% of the respondent`s Dell stocks itemised at Order 5 of the order of court dated 20 January 2000.

3 There be a division of Dell stocks in the Non-Statutory Option agreements which have yet to be vested in the respondent.



Thus, by this notice of appeal, Madam Leong sought only a greater share in the stock options that had vested in Mr Chan and had been exercised by him, and a share in the stock options that had not vested in him. She did not seek an order giving her a share in those stock options that had vested in him but had not been exercised.

Both appeals were set down to be heard by Judith Prakash J on 13 April 2000. However, on 6 April 2000, subsequent to the filing of the notice of appeal, Madam Leong instructed new solicitors to represent her in the appeal. A few days later, on 11 April 2000, the district judge released her grounds of decision. At the hearing before Prakash J on 13 April 2000, Madam Leong`s newly appointed solicitors sought an adjournment of the hearing of the appeal. Prakash J granted the adjournment, but she directed the parties to file appellant`s and respondent`s cases for the appeal and these were to be filed before the appeal was to be heard.

On the same day, by a letter dated 13 April 2000, Madam Leong`s solicitors wrote to Mr Chan`s solicitors informing the latter that they intended to amend the notice of appeal and to raise the arguments pertaining to the division of the stock options that had vested in Mr Chan but had not as yet been exercised by him. This was met with swift riposte from Mr Chan`s solicitors that they would object to such amendment.

In compliance with Prakash J`s direction, both Madam Leong and Mr Chan filed the appellant`s case and the respondent`s case respectively. In the appellant`s case, there was included, among other things, a contention pertaining to the stock options that had vested in Mr Chan but had not been exercised by him. On 9 May 2000, Mr Chan`s solicitors applied by way of SIC 750843/2000 to expunge those parts of the appellant`s case that did not relate to the orders sought for in the notice of appeal filed on 1 February 2000. On the same day, Madam Leong`s solicitors filed an application, SIC 750847, to amend the notice of appeal to include in the orders sought a division of those stock options that have vested in Mr Chan but have not been exercised by him.

Both these applications and the two appeals proper (namely: the appeals filed by Madam Leong and Mr Chan in RAS 720013 and RAS 720014 respectively) came on for hearing before a judge-in-chambers on 22 May 2000. The judge heard first Madam Leong`s application to amend the notice of appeal, and at the conclusion he dismissed it. Madam Leong`s counsel then indicated his client`s intention to appeal against the dismissal, and the judge adjourned the hearing of Mr Chan`s application to expunge and the two appeals proper, RAS 720013 and RAS 720013, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Madam Leong duly filed her appeal which came on for hearing before us. We allowed her appeal, and now give our reasons.

The appeal

It would be helpful at this stage to say a word concerning the procedures governing appeals from the Subordinate Courts to the High Court, as apart from other...

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