Seah Hong Say (trading as Seah Heng Construction Co) v Housing and Development Board

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date13 November 1992
Neutral Citation[1992] SGCA 81
Citation[1992] SGCA 81
Defendant CounselChelva Rajah and S Suresh (Tan Rajah & Cheah)
Plaintiff CounselJB Jeyaretnam (JB Jeyaretnam & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 74 of 1991
Date13 November 1992
Subject MatterEx gratia payments,Appellate,Whether court can usurp functions of administrative tribunals,Compensation payable,Courts and Jurisdiction,O 53 Rules of the Supreme Court 1970,Compulsory acquisitions,Land,Judicial review,Land Acquisition Act (Cap 152),'[Legitimate expectation',Whether legal right to payment exists,Jurisdiction

Cur Adv Vult

This appeal concerns a plot of land which was compulsorily acquired by the government in 1982 under the Land Acquisition Act (Cap 152) (`the Act`). A three-storey (rent-controlled) building stood on the land. Compensation in respect of the acquisition was paid to the landowner. The appellant was a tenant and was in occupation of the ground floor. There were two desks on the second storey which were used by Senco Piling and Trading Co and Soon Leong Civil Engineering Co respectively. Both businesses had their registered addresses at these premises. The ground floor was occupied by the appellant. The HDB had a scheme for ex gratia compensation of occupants of properties that were compulsorily acquired. The appellant applied for such compensation. The HDB eventually awarded him an ex gratia cash grant of $19,050 and awarded $14,625 each to Senco Piling and Trading Co and Soon Leong Civil Engineering Co.

In the High Court, the appellant claimed that the entire cash grant in respect of the whole of the premises, which the appellant asserted should be in the sum of $76,000, should have been paid to him as the chief tenant and sole occupant.
This claim was based on a ministerial statement dated 7 August 1985. In the ministerial statement, business premises in the central area, upon being compulsorily acquired under the Act, were stated to merit ex gratia compensation of -

$76,000 payable to the sole proprietor, or in the case of multi-tenanted premises, $38,000 to the chief tenant and $25,400 per subtenant subject to a maximum of $88,000 per premises.



The appellant claimed that he was entitled to the full $76,000 payable in respect of the premises in question, as the sole occupier of the premises.
In the course of proceedings, he asserted that Senco Piling and Trading Co and Soon Leong Civil Engineering Co had been hastily registered at those premises by his relatives solely in order that they could obtain some compensation from the proposed land acquisition.

Yong Pung How CJ held that there was no evidence that showed that the businesses were not in occupation of the premises (see [1992] 2 SLR 54 ).
He found as a fact that Senco Piling and Trading Co and Soon Leong Civil Engineering Co were in occupation of the second level. Further, he held that the appellant had no justiciable claim to the sum of money he sought. This appeal lies against that decision.

In choosing to proceed by writ for a sum of money rather than under the provisions of O 53 of the Rules of the Supreme Court 1970 (`RSC`) for a prerogative order, the appellant took a hazardous path.
A private action by writ claims a remedy for infringement of a private law right. Yet there was no tort or breach of contract or breach of statutory duty alleged as against the HDB. The appellant`s claim was for a sum of money...

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3 cases
  • Ahmad Kasim bin Adam v Moona Esmail Tamby Merican s/o Mohamed Ganse
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 10 April 2019
    ...Board [2016] 1 SLR 1020 (refd) Powell v McFarlane (1977) 38 P & CR 452 (refd) Seah Hong Say v Housing and Development Board [1992] 3 SLR(R) 497; [1993] 1 SLR 222 (refd) Soon Peng Yam v Maimon bte Ahmad [1995] 1 SLR(R) 279; [1996] 2 SLR 609 (folld) Sze To Chun Keung v Kung Kwok Wai David [19......
  • Ahmad Kasim bin Adam (suing as administrator of the estate of Adam bin Haji Anwar, deceased) v Singapore Land Authority and others
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 5 May 2020
    ...substantive entitlement to such compensation (Seah Hong Say (trading as Seah Heng Construction Co) v Housing and Development Board [1992] 3 SLR(R) 497 (“Seah Hong Say”) at [7]–[8]). Hence, that function of determining any ex gratia Top-Up should first be left to the relevant body; although ......
  • Progress Software Corp (S) Pte Ltd v Central Provident Board
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 8 August 2002
    ...directly, and, in the words of the Court of Appeal in Seah Hong Say (trading as Seah Heng Construction Co) v Housing Development Board [1993] 1 SLR 222, 225, "… in so doing [the court] reviews not the substantive decision in any case, but the decision-making process". The specific nature of......
2 books & journal articles
  • Administrative and Constitutional Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2010, December 2010
    • 1 December 2010
    ...‘hazardous path’, that is, public law remedies are not available under writ proceedings: Seah Hong Say v Housing and Development Board [1992] 3 SLR(R) 497. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW The purpose test 1.3 In implementing a statute, the courts apply a ‘purpose’ based test in seeking an interpretation......
  • Land Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2019, December 2019
    • 1 December 2019
    ...Adam v Moona Esmail Tamby Merican s/o Mohamed Ganse [2019] 1 SLR 1185 at [82], citing Seah Hong Say v Housing and Development Board [1992] 3 SLR(R) 497 at [6]–[7]....

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