Disclaimer






"I am a BLOGGER NOT an expert. This is a BLOG not a 'go-to' website for official information. I represent no one's view save my own. I have neither legal nor financial training, nor do I have anything to do with the real estate industry. My understanding of the Collective Sale Process is from a layman's position only. My calculations, computations and tables are homespun and may contain errors. Please note that nothing in this blog constitutes any legal or financial advice to anyone reading it. You should refer to your lawyer, CSC or financial adviser for expert advice before making any decision. This disclaimer is applicable to every post and comment on the blog. Read at your own risk."
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There is one thing worse than an Enbloc ----- and that is an Enbloc done badly. Since the majority have the necessary mandate to sell, then they owe it to all SPs to make a success of it. Minority SPs can only watch and wait, if they sell then lets pray it's at a price we can move on with, if they don't sell, then we are happy to stay for a few more years.

HORIZON TOWERS WIN!

HORIZON TOWERS MINORITY
WIN AT APPELLATE COURT!
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This is a HUGE win for the minority and a much needed breath of fresh air from the courts . The minority fought long and hard on this one, and they have been rewarded with the most sensible judgment on the en bloc process ever to come out of the courts, and the first ever in favour of the minority. It has taken a long time for the courts to mirror the 'everyman'' view of justice; that if 80% want to force 20% out of their homes against their will, then they had better do it properly. Too long have sale committees/property agents/en bloc lawyers run roughshod over the minority, and increasingly, the majority, too. Looking after their vested interest being the prime motivation in a sale. It seems almost too good to be true. This decision puts POWER back into the hands of the STB to take a good hard look at the sale, especially in the area of good faith; power that previous rulings had stripped away from them, leaving the STB (in my humble layman's opinion) almost impotent in the face of legitimate minority objections. This decision reigns in somewhat the crazy excesses of the purposive approach, defining what the duties of the SC are and when they overstep the mark. Fiduciary duty has regained it's central importance and the Board has to play a "proactive inquisitional role" (reversing Hon. Choo Han Teck's pronouncement that the STB "was not the appropriate forum for considering the conduct of the SC"). The hallowed words of Parliament that the 'safeguards are found in the rules' don't ring so hollow anymore (at least, these are some important wrongs that have been righted).
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The pendulum of Justice has swung back to the centre.
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Horizon Towers ruling: All owners to get slice of $1.9m pie
Straits Times; 17 Jul 2009
ChannelNewsAsia - 2 April 2009
Horizon Towers sale won't go ahead
Business Times - 2 April 2009
Court quashes en bloc sale of Horizon Towers
Business Times - 3 April 2009
Troubled Towers: A timeline
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009Italic
The Lawyers 21/2 tear bonanza of billable hours
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
Minority Owners: "Sweet victory" but no winner
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
The Buyers: a good deal that turned sour
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
The Majority turned Minority: Mixed feelings
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
Just glad the saga is over
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
No ill feelings over failed sale
Sunday Times -5 April 2009
Horizon Towers owners ready to move on
Sunday Times - 5 April 2009
Not an end to en bloc sales
Straits Times - 10 April 2009
Scrutinise future collective sales to protect home owners
Straits Times - 14 April 2009
Failed deal nets Horizon Towers owners $1.5m
Straits Times - 23 April 2009
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The Court of Appeal has issued two documents
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2) Judgment (122 pages long!)
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From the 'Summary of Case' :-
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"(2) An SC was the agent of all the subsidiary proprietors in relation to the collective sale of their strata units as a result of which a fiduciary relationship arose between the SC and the subsidiary proprietors. Since ............ an Sc had the power to sell the units of objecting subsidiary proprietors against their wishes, the need for the imposition of high standards of conduct upon the SC ................... was even more pressing than in the case of an ordinary common law agency relationship".
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"The SC's duties included: (a)the duty of loyalty or fidelity; (b) the duty of even-handedness (c) the duty to avoid any conflict of interest (d) the duty to make full disclosure of relevant information; and (e) the duty to obtain the best price for the properties of the subsidiary proprietors:"
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(3) In considering whether there was "good faith" in the transaction ..... The Horizon Board should not have confined itself to determining whether the sale price was fair or not, but should have considered what was good faith in general law (common law and equity). The word "transaction" in s 84(A)(9)(a)(i) of the LTSA embraced the entire sale process....."
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(4) A Strata Titles Board had to play a proactive inquisitional role in determining applications for collective sale whenever objections had been filed. It was not confined to the evidence presented to it by the contending parties, but had to seek out the facts whenever there was reason to believe that the SC had not disclosed everything about the transaction to the Board:
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(5) In refusing to subpoena (ex sale committee member) to testify and in allowing the original SC to assert legal privilege in respect to the advice given by it's solicitors, the Horizon Board had erred in law."
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(6) ....the Horizon board had applied the wrong test for conflict of interest. The correct question to ask was whether there was a possible conflict of interest. Furthermore , the Horizon Board had wrongly placed the burden of proof on the objectors:
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(8) In it's ruling that the requirement of "good faith" ........... :meant "honesty, fairness, and absence of unconscionable and perhaps even reckless behaviour", the Horizon Board had erred in law by adopting a narrow interpretation of "good faith":
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(9) In concluding that the original SC had acted in good faith in selling the property to HPL as it had received and relied on legal advice when deciding ......... the Horizon Board had erred again. It was not the law that a fiduciary was entitled to rely on legal advice alone to exonerate itself from any breach of duty.

...ultimately the trustee had to make his own decision in good faith, responsibly and reasonably.
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(10) The judge had erred in law in taking a restricted view of the duties of a Strata Titles Board in dealing with applications for approval for collective sales.
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(11) The original SC had breached its duties as fiduciary agent for all the subsidiary proprietors by failing to act with due diligence and transparency in the process of appointing a property agent; failing to proactively follow up on the Vineyard offer and other expressions of interest; failing to improve the chances of obtaining a better price for the property by leveraging on the Vineyard offer in negotiations with HPL; failing to obtain advice from an independent property expert prior to the sale and disregarding First Tree's obviously conflicting motivation in pushing for the sale; acting with undue haste in finalising the sale to HPL when there was no legal or moral obligation to do so; deciding to sell the Property to HPL when there were undisclosed potential conflicts of interest on the part of the two key SC members; and failing to consult (or even to update) the consenting subsidiary proprietors to seek further instructions despite the surge in the property market: "
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Future sale committees,
en bloc lawyers and property agents beware!
You can no longer get away with blue murder,
engage in tricky business with impunity,
close your ears to minority concerns,
look after your own vested interest,
keep owners out of the picture,
show scant regard to the rules,
ignore higher counter offers
hide behind legal privilege,
sell at the lowest price,
or in haste,

because

the STB is back in the saddle!

Furthermore, they now have INQUISITIONAL POWERS!

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