In Ooi Chhooi Ngoh Bibiana v Chee Yoh Chuang and another (Ooi), a non-bankrupt co-owner appealed against the order of sale of a property. However, the Court of Appeal denied this appeal.
The Court will order a sale of property when it is “necessary or expedient” to do so. In considering whether the sale is “necessary or expedient”, the court will consider specific interests concerned. Notably, these specific interests will differ depending on the party who is asking the court to order the sale. Therefore, the Court conducts a balancing exercise and considers all the relevant facts and circumstances of the case.
In Ooi, the Court decided to consider the interests of the bankrupt co-owner’s creditors because the co-owner applying for the order of sale was bankrupt. As such, the Court proceeded to examine several factors in the context of the case, such as the duration of time since the Bankruptcy Order, and how the bankrupt co-owner’s creditors would never be able to reclaim the amount owed if not for the sale of the property. Although the Court in Ooi did sympathise with the other non-bankrupt co-owner of the property, the Court of appeal ordered the sale, noting that she would still be able to receive sufficient sums from the sale of property to purchaser alternative accommodation.
Possible, but not exhaustive factors examined by the Court include:
- The state of relationship between the parties;
- The possibility prospect of that relationship deteriorating in the future;
- In the case of a bankrupt co-owner applying for sale, whether a significant period of time has elapsed between the Bankruptcy Order and the application;
- Whether the creditors can recover their sum in other ways;
- Whether the other co-owner will be able to find alternative accommodation.
Nonetheless, as the power of sale that rests with the Court is a great one, it warrants an extremely careful examination of the particular facts of the case at hand. With properties in Singapore so incredibly valuable, and the determination of whether an order of sale should be granted being so context-reliant, it is advisable to have an experienced lawyer guide you through this process.
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