Tan Chin Seng and Others v Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date16 July 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGCA 35
Citation[2002] SGCA 35
Plaintiff CounselTong Beng Teck Roland and Wang Shao-Ing ( Wong, Tan & Molly Lim )
Subject MatterEvidence as to factual background of dispute,'Train of inquiry' concept,Allegation of fraud,Criteria of relevancy,Civil Procedure,Discovery of documents,Evidence,Necessity of showing link between document sought and issues in the action,Relevancy dependent on issues pleaded,Necessity of pleading expressly such allegation with particulars,Pleadings,Admissibility of evidence,Whether admissibility of such evidence restricted to circumstances known to parties at or before time of contract
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 51 of 2002
Defendant CounselK Shanmugam SC and Boey Swee Siang ( Allen & Gledhill )
Published date19 September 2003
Date16 July 2002



1 This was an appeal against the decision of the Judge in Chambers allowing the respondent’s appeal against an order of the Assistant Registrar requiring the discovery of certain categories of specific documents. After hearing the parties, the appeal was allowed only in respect of one category of documents. The others were dismissed. We now give our reasons.

The facts

2 The appellants, ten individuals in all, are taking this action on behalf of themselves and 4,885 other persons, who are all members of the Raffles Town Club (the Club), a proprietary Club, seeking reliefs against the respondent-proprietors, Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd (RTC), on the grounds of misrepresentation and breach of contract.

3 The hearing of the action is now in progress. The action is based on a common law prospectus issued by RTC when inviting members of the public to join the Club. The prospectus comprised the following documents:-

(i) a letter of invitation dated 9 November 1996;

(ii) a brochure;

(iii) a document giving general information in the

form of questions and answers.

4 The prospectus promised "lavish reception and facilities" and that the Club would be "without peer in terms of size, facilities and sheer opulence". It also gave, inter alia, the following specific indications as to what members could expect –

(i) there would be about 600 car parking lots for members;

(ii) the exclusive and limited membership would be fully transferable;

(iii) the total built-up area would be in excess of 400,000 square feet.

5 Potential subscribers were also told that there would be two classes of membership:-

(i) a limited number of exclusive transferable founder members at the subscription price of $28,000, on a first-come-first serve basis, provided the application was made before 30 November 1996. The selection process aimed at building up a network of like-minded professionals, executives and business people.

(ii) Those not successful under (i), and those who applied after 30 November 1996, would have to pay $40,000 and they would be "second class members."

6 From all the foregoing, the plaintiffs alleged that they were made to understand, and it was represented to them, that the total number of members at any given time would be limited so that the members and their spouses would not at any time be shut out from enjoying the facilities of the Club. The plaintiffs also said that these representations had become terms of the contract upon the plaintiffs’ applications to becoming founder members being accepted. The plaintiffs said that these representations turned out to be false because –

(i) Nineteen thousand people have become founder members. No invitation was issued to the public for the "second class members".

(ii) The facilities of the Club were inadequate to cater to the needs of 19,000 members.

7 By reason of the representations which turned out to be untrue, the plaintiffs asked for a rescission of the contract and the return of the money paid to become members, or damages for breach of contract.


8 By summons-in-chambers made on 2 April 2002, the plaintiffs applied for an order for the discovery of nine wide-ranging categories of documents. The Assistant Registrar, while granting an order for discovery, drastically narrowed its scope when compared with that prayed for by the plaintiffs. Discovery was ordered in respect of twelve specific categories of documents. However, as some of the discovered documents were no longer in contention we would only set out those which were the subject of the appeal:-

1. Any one document of a date before 6 November 1996 recording decision (whether of the Board of RTC … its directors or its representatives) on the number of Raffles Town Club members to be taken in the first offering ending 30 November 1996 and for the fee of $28,000.

2. Any one document of a date before 6 November 1996 recording decision (whether of the Board of RTC …. its directors or its representatives) on the number of Raffles Town Club members to be taken in the second offering after 30 November 1996 and for the fee of $40,000.

3. Any one document of a date after 30 November 1996 but before 31 March 1997 recording (whether by the Board of RTC …. its directors or its representatives) the number of applications received and determining the number of applications to be accepted from the applications made in the first offering ending 30 November 1996 and for the fee of $28,000.

4. Any one document(s) dated after 1 January 1996 and before 31 September 1997 recording (whether by the Board of RTC …. its directors or its representatives) the criteria for approving applications in (i) the first offering ending 30 November 1996 and (ii) the second offering starting 1 December 1996, limited to documents where there is a material change in position from the previous document in time.

5. Any one document(s) dated after 1 January 1996 but before 31 September 2001 reflecting (whether by the Board of RTC …. its directors or its representatives or agents such as architects):- (a)(i) the final building plan/design submission to Building Control Authority; and (a)(ii) any material amendments to this final submission document thereafter; (b)(i) the decision shortly before June 2001 of using S$100,000,000 for additional facilities; and (b)(ii) the implementation plan for the use of this additional S$100,000,000.

6. Copies of correspondence (a) from members raising complaints; and, (b) the club management’s replies in relation to the inadequacy, and over-crowding of the RTC coffee-house, Chinese restaurant, car-park and swimming pool for the period March 2000 to July 2001.

7. Any documents relating to the use of the presidential or executive suits of RTC by a non-member person or body corporate in relation in which period and for what fee, for the period March 2000 to March 2001.

9 Except in relation to items 6, 8 and 9(a), RTC appealed against the...

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28 cases
  • Sanae Achar v Sci-Gen Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 8 April 2011
    ...must fulfil certain requirements. First, the document must be relevant (see Tan Chin Seng and others v Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd [2002] 2 SLR(R) 465 (“Tan Chin Seng”) at [18]). In respect of discovery of specific documents, O 24 r 5(3) of the Rules of Court describes a relevant document to ......
  • Sim Cheng Soon v BT Engineering Pte Ltd and Another
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    ...satisfied, inter alia, the central criterion of relevance (laid down in numerous cases such as Tan Chin Seng v Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd [2002] 3 SLR 345). Conclusion 17 In our view, all three conditions set out in Ladd v Marshall have been satisfied. We therefore allow the application, and......
  • UMCI Ltd v Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co (Singapore) Pte Ltd and Others
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    ...for discovery in such circumstances. She relies upon the decision of the Court of Appeal in Tan Chin Seng v Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd [2002] 3 SLR 345 (“Raffles Town Club”) in this 70 In my judgment, no exception can be taken with the principles articulated in Raffles Town Club. The followi......
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    ...of substantial evidential materiality to the pleaded claim and the defence to it”. 11 In Tan Chin Seng & Ors v Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd [2002] 3 SLR 345, 351, Chao Hick Tin JA, who delivered the judgment of the Court of Appeal, said that one of the essential preconditions to be satisfied b......
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