Yap Lian v Kris Investment Co Ltd

JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date24 October 1968
Neutral Citation[1968] SGFC 14
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No Y7 of 1968
Date24 October 1968
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselLai Kew Chai (Lee & Lee)
Citation[1968] SGFC 14
Defendant CounselKC Chan (Braddell Brothers)
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterApproach on Appeal,- Finding on credibility by trial judge based on demeanour,Appellate Court not bound by finding of facts by trial judge as to demeanour,Appeals,Courts and Jurisdiction

On 11 October 1968 we dismissed the appeal by the appellant/defendant against the decision of Tan Ah Tah FJ setting aside the judgment of the civil district judge in the defendant`s favour and directing a new trial before another civil district judge. We indicated that we would be giving our reasons in writing at a later stage which we now do.

This action commenced before the civil district judge with a claim by the respondents/plaintiffs against the appellant/defendant for possession of the portions of the land known as Lot 203-8, 203-9, 203-10 and 203-11 of Mukim IV in the district of Upper Tanglin at Holland Road, Singapore together with the building erected thereon and now known as 300-T Holland Road and for other consequential reliefs.

The plaintiffs` case was that the defendant was not entitled to claim the protection of the Control of Rent Ordinance (Cap 242) for two reasons, the first being that the building was a new building built after the 7 September 1947 and the second being that, if the building was built before the 7 September 1947, certain alterations had been made to it so that there was a change of identity and the building should therefore be regarded as a new building.

The district judge dismissed the claim on the ground that she `was not satisfied, on very careful consideration of the cats, that the plaintiffs had discharged the onus of proving that the premises in question were built after 7 September 1947, and therefore did not fall within the provisions of the Control of Rent Ordinance.

On the second question her decision was as follows:

Even if the main building were so substantially, structurally altered that it has changed its identity (which I do not concede there is) and becomes a new building, the other separate buildings on the land are old buildings and all buildings on the land would be rent controlled premises.

There is little doubt that the present state of the law is that the onus of establishing that premises such as these are outside the protection of the Control of Rent Ordinance is on the landlord and it was accordingly necessary for the plaintiffs to satisfy the district judge by a preponderance of evidence, both documentary and otherwise, that the premises in question were built after 7 September 1947.

The plaintiffs relied on the evidence of Mr Lum Kum Weng, a building inspector and overseer attached to the Chief Building Surveyor`s Department, who gave evidence to the effect that when he first inspected 300-T Holland Road on 5 March 1952, the building appeared to him to be completely new.
He accordingly served a notice on the defendant requiring him to demolish the building which was an unauthorised erection or to comply with certain requirements within 14 days. After being served with this notice the defendant made an application to the rural board for a permit `to retain a plank and corrugated aluminium roofed dwelling house` on lot 203-8 Mukim IV at Holland Road. The evidence for the plaintiffs was that the form of...

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