United Overseas Bank Ltd v Giok Bie Jao and others

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeBelinda Ang Saw Ean J
Judgment Date16 March 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] SGHC 56
Citation[2012] SGHC 56
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 514 of 2010
Publication Date22 March 2012
Plaintiff CounselTan Hee Joek (Tan See Swan & Co)
Defendant CounselWong Soo Chih (Ho, Wong & Partners)
SubjectTrusts,Resulting Trusts,Presumed Resulting Trusts
Belinda Ang Saw Ean J: Introduction Interlocutory and Joinder applications

United Overseas Bank (“UOB”) was the mortgagee of a property known as 530 East Coast Road, #18-04 Ocean Park, Singapore (“Ocean Park”). On 5 June 2009, UOB exercised its power of sale over the property following a default on the repayment of the loan secured by the mortgage. The property was sold for the price of $1,650,000. After the sale proceeds were used to settle all outstanding sums due and owing to UOB, the sum of $1,092,086.70 remained as balance sale proceeds. UOB tried to return the balance sale proceeds to the registered proprietors, Giok Bie Jao (“Madam Giok”) and Jaury Jacob (“Jaury”). In the ordinary course of things, this would have happened. After a lengthy discourse, UOB found itself faced with conflicting views: Jaury agreed to the release of the balance sale proceeds to the registered proprietors but Madam Giok wanted the balance sale proceeds to be divided equally amongst five people: the registered proprietors, Jimmy Jonathan (“Jimmy”), Arifin Jacob, and Antonius Jao. In those circumstances, UOB interpleaded and filed Originating Summons No 514 of 2010 against Madam Giok as the first defendant, and Jaury as the second defendant. I need only note that pending the determination of the rival contentions in the present case, UOB was ordered to pay into Court the balance sale proceeds and its solicitor’s attendance at all future hearings was dispensed with.

On 4 March 2011, Jimmy was joined as a party to the proceedings. He was the named third defendant.

By an Order made by the Senior Assistant Registrar, the interpleader issues to be tried were as follows: Whether [Jaury or Jimmy] is the beneficial owner of the property ... which was purchased under the names of [Madam Giok and Jaury] [and] who is therefore entitled to the balance sale proceeds from [UOB’s] mortgagee sale of the property; and Whether [Jaury] was aware of and executed the UOB Mortgage for the property in Surabaya, Indonesia in 2004.

It was also directed that the interpleader issues be tried with Jaury in the position of plaintiff.

I hasten to mention at the outset that I declined to rule on the second interpleader issue as it was concerned with the circumstances surrounding the procurement of the mortgage which had no relevance at all to the substance of the interpleader relief sought by UOB in the light of the competing claims to the balance sale proceeds paid into Court. The purpose of interpleader relief is observed in Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd v Ding Pei Chai and others [2004] 3 SLR(R) 489 at [3]:

an interpleader issue directed under O 17 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5 [2006] Rev Ed), is a means for the court to decide the claims as between the persons present at the proceedings in order that the person interpleading may get the relief to which he is entitled (see De La Rue v Hernu, Peron & Stockwell, Limited [1936] 2 KB 164 at 173).

Background Facts

The parties in the present proceedings are siblings from an Indonesian family. As is common with fairly well to do Indonesians, they bought properties in Singapore and their children spent their growing up years in Singapore.

In the 1980s, Jaury sent his children to be educated in Singapore. In 1983, he purchased an apartment at 20 Amber Road, #14-02 King’s Mansion, Singapore (“King’s Mansion”) to accommodate his children. Madam Giok, Jaury’s sister, took care of his children in Singapore. King’s Mansion was subsequently sold in 1989. In 1985, Jaury purchased an apartment at Shelford Road, which he later sold on 4 May 1992.

On 26 November 1986, a property known as 7 Siglap Road, #20-65 Mandarin Gardens, Singapore (“Mandarin Gardens”) was purchased in the sole name of Jimmy. On 16 January 1988, Jimmy transferred one-half share of Mandarin Gardens to Jaury. Stamp duty was duly paid but no consideration passed in respect of this transfer. Consequently, Jimmy and Jaury became registered proprietors holding as tenants in common in equal shares. Ocean Park was acquired in June 1990 and it was at all times registered in the names of Madam Giok and Jaury as tenants in common in equal shares.

The competing claimants

The dispute was squarely between Jimmy and Jaury. Although Madam Giok was the registered owner of one-half share in the Ocean Park property, she did not assert any beneficial interest in the same.

Jimmy’s pleaded case was tolerably straightforward Jimmy had purchased the Ocean Park property which was registered in the names of Madam Giok and Jaury. He argued that there was a resulting trust in his favour in respect of the property, with the result that he held beneficial ownership. As such, he was entitled to the balance sale proceeds in Court. On the other hand, Jaury said he provided the purchase money arguing that Jimmy’s claim of beneficial ownership must fail. In short, Jimmy and Jaury were contending for a purchase money resulting trust. I had to decide where the beneficial interest in the Ocean Park property lay. The main factual issue in dispute was the provenance of the purchase money.

Presumption of resulting trust The legal principles

The type of resulting trust relied upon in these proceedings is what is commonly known as a purchase money resulting trust, and the classic statement of the law on this subject is to be found in the judgment of Eyre CB in Dyer v Dyer (1788) 30 ER 42 at 43. The passage below was cited with approval and followed in Peh Eng Leng v Pek Eng Leong [1996] 1 SLR(R) 939 at [16]:

The clear result of all the cases, without a single exception, is, that the trust of a legal estate ... whether taken in the names of the purchasers and others jointly, or in the name of others without that of the purchaser; whether in one name or several; whether jointly or successive, results to the man who advances the purchase-money. This is a general proposition supported by all the cases, and there is nothing to contradict it; ... .

It was also noted in Dyer v Dyer that such a resulting trust may be rebutted by circumstances in evidence.

The modern day authority on this species of resulting trust is by Lord Browne-Wilkinson’s observations in Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington Borough Council [1996] AC 669 at 708, cited with approval by the Court of Appeal in Lau Siew Kim v Yeo Guan Chye Terence [2008] 2 SLR(R) 108 (“Lau Siew Kim”) at [34]: [emphasis in original] For present purposes, it is sufficient to refer to the first circumstance above where A pays for the purchase of property in the name of B alone, or in the joint names of A and B.

The Court of Appeal in Lau Siew Kim explained that where a transfer of property to another takes place for which the recipient does not provide the whole of the consideration, the lack of intention to benefit the recipient on the part of the purchaser is the fact that is being inferred when the presumption of resulting trust is applied. The presumption is based on a traditional commonsense presumption that, outside of certain relationships (that is, relationships giving rise to the presumption of advancement), an owner of property never intends to make a gift, and, by extension, that a person who provides the money required to purchase a property intends to obtain an equivalent equitable interest in the property acquired (see Lau Siew Kim at [35] to [36]).

From the passages quoted, for the presumption of resulting trust to apply, the money must be provided by the person claiming beneficial interest in the property in his capacity as purchaser, or that his contributions of money were to the purchase price. This means that his beneficial interest under a resulting trust will be determined (a) in the proportion of his direct financial contribution to the purchase price and (b) assessed as at the time when the property was purchased and the trust created.

A presumption of resulting trust can be rebutted by contrary evidence (see [12] above and Lau Siew Kim at [52] to [55]). Intention may also be found or inferred from conduct (see generally Hohol v Hohol [1981] VR 221 at p 226). For a guide to the type of evidence admissible to rebut a presumption of resulting trust, I refer to the case of Shephard v Cartwright [1955] 1 AC 431. In that case, the House of Lords approved of a passage from the 24th Edition of ...

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3 cases
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    • Singapore
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    • 24 June 2014
    ...[1991] 2 SLR (R) 595; [1992] 1 SLR 232 (refd) Thompson v Hurst [2012] EWCA Civ 1752 (refd) United Overseas Bank Ltd v Giok Bie Jao [2012] SGHC 56 (refd) Vandervell v IRC [1967] 2 AC 291 (refd) Wee Chiaw Sek Anna v Ng Li-Ann Genevieve [2013] 3 SLR 801 (refd) Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentr......
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    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
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    ...[2016] 1 SLR 1150 (refd) Teo Siew Har v Lee Kuan Yew [1999] 3 SLR(R) 410; [1999] 4 SLR 560 (refd) United Overseas Bank Ltd v Giok Bie Jao [2012] SGHC 56 (refd) Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington London Borough CouncilELR [1996] AC 669 (refd) Xia Zhengyan v Geng Changqing [2015......
  • Chin Kim Yon v Chin Kheng Hai
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 6 January 2016
    ...that they naturally bear as part of the overall picture. … [emphasis added] In United Overseas Bank Ltd v Giok Bie Jao and others [2012] SGHC 56, Belinda Ang Saw Ean J, who observed, obiter, (at [16]) that the looser approach seems “eminently sensible”, referred to the following revised vie......
3 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal Nbr. 2013, December 2013
    • 1 December 2013
    ...and not legal burden, is placed on such party. This Hong Kong case was cited with approval in United Overseas Bank v Giok Bie Jao[2012] SGHC 56. For a full discussion on the legal burden of proof and evidential burden, see paras 78–89 below. 91 Lau Siew Kim v Yeo Guan Chye [2008] 2 SLR(R) 1......
  • Equity and Trusts
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2015, December 2015
    • 1 December 2015
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  • Equity and Trusts
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2012, December 2012
    • 1 December 2012
    ...judge held that the reference to the resulting trust doctrine in this context was flawed. 15.12 United Overseas Bank Ltd v Giok Bie Jao[2012] SGHC 56 is a contribution to resulting trust jurisprudence on the type of evidence admissible to rebut a presumption of resulting trust. The previous......

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