Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and Others

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChan Sek Keong CJ
Judgment Date30 August 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] SGCA 43
Citation[2007] SGCA 43
Subject MatterLimitation of Actions,Whether effective acknowledgement existing,Whether place where bank account opened considered natural forum,Whether Singapore convenient forum to decide title to money in foreign bank account,Counterclaims based on foreign judgment withdrawn under court order subject to condition that no action for same cause of action be brought in Singapore,Section 26(1) Limitation Act (Cap 163, 1996 Rev Ed),Foreign judgments,Effect of condition,Pleadings,Whether foreign judgments in personam or in rem,Judgment of foreign court affecting immovable and movable properties situated outside that country,Acknowledgment,Natural forum,Whether condition barring amendment to introduce counterclaims for different assets under foreign judgment,Civil Procedure,Extension of limitation period,Conflict of Laws,Whether proceeds of sale of immovable property personal
Plaintiff CounselAlvin Yeo SC and Jaclyn Neo (WongPartnership) and Devinder Rai and Subramanian A Pillai (ACIES Law Corporation)
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 111 of 2006
Defendant CounselAndre Yeap SC and Adrian Wong (Rajah & Tann)
Date30 August 2007
Published date27 December 2007

30 August 2007

Judgment reserved.

Chan Sek Keong CJ (delivering the judgment of the court):


1 This is an appeal against the decision of Andrew Ang J (“the trial judge”) in Suit No 291 of 2005 in which he allowed the first and second respondents’ application to amend their pleadings to include, inter alia, counterclaims (“the proposed counterclaims”) as well as to add one Ryuzo Murakami as the fourth respondent to the proceedings (collectively “the Application”).

2 The present appeal is but one chapter in a long history of litigation between the parties spanning the past 12 years in relation to the assets of one Takashi Murakami Suroso (“the testator”) which were situated in various parts of the world.

Background of previous proceedings

3 The appellant is the eldest (and adopted) daughter of the testator. The testator had been married to the appellant’s mother up till her death in 1968. After the death of the appellant’s mother, the testator married one Louise Maria Wiryadi, the first respondent. This second marriage bore two children, namely Ryuji Murakami (the second respondent) and the fourth respondent. The third respondent is the brother-in-law of the first respondent (ie, the husband of the first respondent’s sister) but is not concerned with this appeal.

4 On 30 July 1994, the testator and the first respondent divorced. Pursuant to the divorce, the testator commenced ancillary proceedings in Indonesia against the first respondent sometime in April 1995 for the division of their matrimonial assets. However, before this issue could be resolved, the testator died sometime in June 1996. The appellant was then appointed as the executrix of the estate and took over conduct of the proceedings on behalf of the testator’s estate in Indonesia. The proceedings eventually culminated with the Supreme Court of Indonesia delivering its judgment in Judgment 203/PK/Pdt/1998 on 23 February 2000 (“Judgment 203”).

5 Under Judgment 203, the Supreme Court of Indonesia declared, inter alia, that: (a) the will of the testator was valid; (b) the appellant had been properly appointed as the executrix of the testator; and (c) by virtue of Art 35 of the Indonesian (Marriage) Law 1 of 174, all assets that had been acquired during the marriage were, in law, joint assets. The joint assets that were listed in Judgment 203 included not only 13 plots of land situated in Indonesia but the following assets situated outside Indonesia, viz:

(a) three immovable properties in Singapore (“the Singapore properties”);

(b) a house and plot of land in Tokyo (“the Japanese property”);

(c) a time deposit with Daiwa Bank Tokyo (“DT Time Deposit”);

(d) a bank account with Daiwa Bank Trust Company in New York (“Daiwa NY Account”); and

(e) the contents of a safe deposit box with PT Daiwa Perdania Bank (“the DPB safe deposit box”).

6 Judgment 203 also ordered that the first respondent deliver to the appellant possession of six plots of land together with their documents of title as well as one half of all the joint assets to the appellant. It is unnecessary to list the details of the plots of land that were ordered to be delivered by the first respondent: suffice it to say that they were immovable properties situated in Indonesia that do not constitute the joint assets which the first respondent is claiming under the proposed counterclaims.

7 On 29 April 2005, the appellant commenced the present proceedings against the first respondent to claim recovery of not only the Singapore properties of which the testator had been awarded a half-share under Judgment 203 and of the income therefrom, but also various other assets of the testator that had not been adjudicated upon under Judgment 203. The claim was made on the basis that those other assets were held by the respondents on a constructive and/or resulting trust for the testator for various reasons unconnected to Judgment 203. The second and third respondents were made parties to the proceedings as recipients of the said assets on the basis that they had knowingly assisted the first respondent to transfer the assets to themselves.

8 In the alternative, the appellant made a claim for recovery of a half-share of the assets identified in Judgment 203 and for the full recovery of the assets in Singapore not disclosed by the first respondent in the property proceedings in Indonesia in Judgment 203. Finally, and in the further alternative, the appellant made a claim for a half-share in all assets located in Singapore.

9 It is relevant to note that Judgment 203 is only one of several court judgments that had been given by the Indonesian courts in relation to the rights of the parties over the testator’s assets. Of especial importance for the purposes of the present appeal are two other decisions of the Supreme Court of Indonesia. The first is Judgment 1265/K/Pdt/1996 dated 14 January 1998 (“Judgment 1265”), in which the Supreme Court of Indonesia held that the second and fourth respondents were heirs of the testator, even though it refused to grant a declaration sought by them that the testator’s will was invalid and that they were entitled to exercise control over part of the testator’s estate. The second is the decision of the Supreme Court of Indonesia in Judgment 2696/Pdt/2003 dated 2 March 2005 (“Judgment 2696”), where the court declared once more that the second and fourth respondents were the heirs of the testator, and further ruled that they were, as heirs, entitled under Indonesian law to a one-quarter share of the estate of the testator, notwithstanding the existence of the will of the testator. We should highlight that at the time of the hearing of this appeal, the latter decision remains subject to revision by the Supreme Court of Indonesia, a point relevant to a legal argument advanced by the appellant that we will examine later on in this judgment.

Proceedings in the High Court

10 The genesis of the present appeal before us was an application by the appellant on the first day of the trial to expunge certain parts of the affidavit as well as the opinion of the respondents’ expert on Indonesian law on the basis that such Indonesian law had not been pleaded and was therefore irrelevant to the issues before the court. Rather than allowing the said application, the trial judge stood down the application for the first and second respondents to seek leave to file a rejoinder out of time and/or to amend the defence as they deemed appropriate. As a result, the first and second respondents made the Application to not only make certain amendments to the defence but also to plead counterclaims against the appellant, qua executrix, for the following reliefs:

(a) an account of assets of the testator’s estate (which included assets listed in Judgment 203 as well as assets which, it is alleged, the testator did not disclose to the court in those proceedings); and

(b) consequential orders that such assets be delivered to the second respondent and the proposed fourth respondent in accordance with their entitlements to the estate as heirs, based on Judgment 1265 and/or Judgment 2696.

In addition, as already mentioned, the respondents also applied to add the fourth respondent as a party to the proceedings.

11 The appellant objected to the Application on various grounds that were rejected by the trial judge for the reasons set out in his grounds of decision in Murakami Takako v Wiryadi Louise Maria [2007] 1 SLR 1119 (“the GD”). In allowing the application, the trial judge followed the established principle that, as a matter of law, pleadings could be amended at any stage of an action if disallowing it “might … result in an unfair trial to the applicant seeking the amendments if the application [were] refused”: see the GD at [10], citing the observations of Choo Han Teck J in Wishing Star Ltd v Jurong Town Corp [2006] SGHC 82 (“Wishing Star”). This is a convenient stage to examine briefly the reasons given by the trial judge for rejecting the objections of the appellant to the Application.

The appellant’s first argument

12 The first argument advanced by the appellant was that the addition of the proposed counterclaims pursuant to the Application would be in breach of an order of court made earlier by the Senior Assistant Registrar (“the SAR”) in allowing the first and second respondents to withdraw certain counterclaims (“the original counterclaims”) against the appellant. In the original counterclaims, the first respondent had claimed a half-share of certain but not all assets listed in Judgment 203, viz, the DT Time Deposit and the DPB safe-deposit box. Similarly, the second respondent had claimed (on behalf of himself and the fourth respondent, who was, at the time, not a party to the suit) only a two-eighths share for both of the said assets and of the contents of the DPB safe-deposit box. No claim was made by either the first or second respondent to the money in the Daiwa NY Account.

13 The SAR, in allowing the said application, made the following order:

[T]he [first, second and third respondents] are not to bring in Singapore in these or subsequent proceedings any action for the same, or substantially the same causes of action as those made in the Counterclaim … [emphasis added]

The said respondents did not appeal against this order which remains binding on them.

14 The appellant argued that by reason of this order, the first and second respondents were barred from adding the proposed counterclaims by way of the Application as they were based on “substantially the same causes of action” as those that had been made in the original counterclaims. The trial judge rejected this submission and held that the SAR’s condition was only intended to preclude the first and second respondents from advancing further claims in Singapore against the appellant with respect to the particular assets claimed under the original counterclaims. Accordingly, as the proposed counterclaims did not encompass assets not...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 cases
  • Desert Palace Inc (doing business as Caesars Palace) v Poh Soon Kiat
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 September 2008
    ...of judgment. (g) In Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wirayadi Louise Maria and others [2007] 4 SLR 565 (“Murakami”), the Court of Appeal in Singapore held at [34] and [40] that the first respondent’s counterclaim, founded on Indonesian Judgmen......
  • West LB AG v Philippine National Bank
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 10 August 2012
    ...Craig Steamship Co v Chartered Mercantile Bank of India London and China [1897] 1 QB 55 (refd) Murakami Takako v Wiryadi Louise Maria [2007] 4 SLR (R) 565; [2007] 4 SLR 565 (folld) Pattni v Ali [2007] 2 AC 85 (refd) Potters v Loppert [1973] Ch 399 (refd) Power Curber International Ltd v Nat......
  • JIO Minerals FZC and others v Mineral Enterprises Ltd
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 11 November 2010
    ...... Murukami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi. Murukami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and others . ... Gzell J, in Murakami v Wiryadi . ......
  • Poh Soon Kiat v Desert Palace Inc (trading as Caesars Palace)
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 8 December 2009
    ...Pty Ltd v Tan Hong Woon [2002] 2 SLR 22 (“Star City (CA)”), Burswood Nominees ([10] supra) and Murakami Takako v Wiryadi Louise Maria [2007] 4 SLR 565 (“Murakami Takako”). Based on such an approach, the Respondent would be seeking to enforce a debt created by either the 1999 California Judg......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT