Teng Fuh Holdings Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeKan Ting Chiu J
Judgment Date09 March 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] SGCA 14
Citation[2007] SGCA 14
Plaintiff CounselTan Kay Kheng and Aw Charmian (Wong Partnership)
Subject MatterCertiorari and mandamus,Whether application for leave for order of certiorari and mandamus made out of time,Remedies,Whether sufficient grounds for leave for order of certiorari and mandamus to be granted under O 53 r 1(1) of Rules of Court existing,Order 53 r 1 Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2004 Rev Ed),When three-month period under O 53 r 1(6) of Rules of Court commencing,Administrative Law
Date09 March 2007
Defendant CounselEric Chin (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Published date12 March 2007
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 31 of 2006

9 March 2007

Judgment reserved.

Kan Ting Chiu J (delivering the judgment of the court):


1 The appellant, Teng Fuh Holdings Pte Ltd, applied on 30 September 2005 for leave to apply for an order of certiorari (now known as a quashing order) and an order of mandamus (now known as a mandatory order) under O 53 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2004 Rev Ed).

2 The appellant wanted the quashing order to quash a declaration No 638 of 1983 dated 26 February 1983 made under s 5 of the Land Acquisition Act (Cap 152, 1985 Rev Ed) (“the Act”) which stated that the appellant’s land and property at Mukim 25 Lots 498, 348 and 350 (“the land”) was to be acquired because it was needed for “a public purpose, viz: General Redevelopment”.

3 The appellant wanted the mandatory order to be issued against the respondent, the Collector of Land Revenue, Singapore, to reconvey the land to it upon repayment of the compensation paid for the acquisition.

Basis for the application

4 The appellant argued that the orders should be made on grounds that the acquisition was made ultra vires and in bad faith because:

(a) the land had not been redeveloped, but had been left in the state it was in at the time of acquisition, leased back to the appellant, which has remained in occupation as licensee; and

(b) the land, which was zoned “Industrial” when it was acquired, was rezoned “Residential” under the 1993 Kallang Development Guide Plan.

The rules of court applicable

5 The appellant needed leave to apply for the orders because O 53 r 1(1) of the Rules of Court in the then-prevailing form using the original names of the orders provided that:

No application for an order of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari shall be made unless leave to make such an application has been granted in accordance with this Rule.

6 The appellant faced a difficulty right from the outset. It had to explain why it had not filed its application till 30 September 2005, more than 22½ years from the declaration of 26 February 1983.

7 Rule 1(6) of O 53 refers to the time in which such applications are to be made. Rule 1(6) states that:

[L]eave shall not be granted to apply for an order of certiorari to remove any judgment, order, conviction or other proceeding for the purpose of its being quashed, unless the application for leave is made within 3 months after the date of the proceeding or such other period (if any) as may be prescribed by any written law or, except where a period is so prescribed, the delay is accounted for to the satisfaction of the Judge to whom the application for leave is made; …

At the time of the acquisition, the period for application was six months. The period was reduced to three months in December 2004.

8 The appellant made a disingenuous argument that its application was not out of time. The appellant apparently did not know that the land was rezoned as “Residential” in the 1993 Kallang Development Guide Plan till 2004. In September 2004, the appellant came to know of the change in zoning. It obtained legal advice on the legality of the acquisition and it instructed its solicitors who wrote to the Ministry of Law on 7 September 2004 to appeal for the land to be returned to it. It did not hear from the Ministry till 13 July 2005, when it was informed that the request was rejected. The appellant argued that the time for application should run from 13 July 2005, and its application filed on 30 September 2005 was filed within time.

The decision below

9 The appellant’s application came on for hearing before Andrew Phang Boon Leong J (as he then was) and his judgment is reported in [2006] 3 SLR 507. Phang J dismissed the application. On appeal before us, the parties essentially repeated the arguments made before him.

The issues

Was the period for application three months or six months?

10 Order 53 r 1(6) had been amended in December 2004 when the three-month period was put in place of the previously-prescribed six-month period. Did this rule apply retrospectively to the appellant’s application? There were no transitional provisions or statements which addressed that. There is room for argument whether such an amendment on the time limit for action applied retrospectively to the appellant’s application to quash the declaration of 26 February 1983. The issue to be addressed is whether the amendment affected the appellant’s vested right of appeal, or whether it only related to the procedure by which the right was to be exercised.

11 The Ydun [1899] P 236, a decision of the English Court of Appeal, dealt with a similar situation. The plaintiff’s vessel suffered damage on 13 September 1893. The plaintiff alleged that the damage was caused by the negligence of the defendant in the execution of its public duty, and issued a writ on 14 November 1898. In the intervening period, an act came into effect on 1 January 1894 which provided that such actions must be commenced within six months of the alleged negligence. The court had to decide whether the act applied to the action filed. The court ruled that it did, and that the action was filed out of time. A L Smith LJ held at 245:

The rule applicable to cases of this sort is well stated by Wilde B. in Wright v. Hale [(1860) 6 H & N 227 at 232], namely, that when a new enactment deals with rights of action, unless it is so expressed in the Act, an existing right of action is not taken away. But where the enactment...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 cases
  • Borissik Svetlana v Urban Redevelopment Authority
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 July 2009
    ...were given due consideration by the URA. 33 As for the question of bad faith, in Teng Fuh Holdings Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue [2007] 2 SLR 568, the Court of Appeal made it clear that mere suspicion is not sufficient to establish bad faith and that there must be sufficient evidence ......
  • City Developments Ltd v Chief Assessor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 10 July 2008
    ...v Collector of Land Revenue [2006] 3 SLR 507 (affirmed by the Court of Appeal in Teng Fuh Holdings Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue [2007] 2 SLR 568 (and see id at [26])), it was observed (in the context of land acquisition) as follows (at However, does that mean that s 5(3) of the Act [......
  • Chiu Teng @ Kallang Pte Ltd v Singapore Land Authority
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 27 November 2013
    ...2 Ch 149 (refd) South Bucks District Council v Flanagan [2002] 1 WLR 2601 (refd) Teng Fuh Holdings Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue [2007] 2 SLR (R) 568; [2007] 2 SLR 568 (folld) UDL Marine (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Jurong Town Corp [2011] 3 SLR 94 (folld) Yong Vui Kong v AG [2011] 2 SLR 118......
  • Shanmugam Manohar v Attorney-General and another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 16 June 2020
    ...dishonesty are serious allegations that must not be made on mere suspicion: see Teng Fuh Holdings Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue [2007] 2 SLR(R) 568 at [39], citing Yeap Seok Pen v Government of the State of Kelantan [1986] 1 MLJ 449. Application to the According to Deputy Public Prose......
  • 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