Singapore

Court rules against $17.5m collective sale of Beauty World Food Centre

A potential $17.5 million collective sale of the Beauty World Food Centre has been stalled, after the High Court yesterday declined to give three of its trustees the power to go ahead with the deal.

In a decision delivered in chambers, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said that in the process leading to the deal, the three trustees had fallen short of their duty to obtain the best price for the stall holders.

Highlighting key problems with the deal, the judge noted that no valuation on the property was done before the sale, nor was there an open call for interest to buy the property.

In addition, the stall holders were not given timely updates on critical issues such as how the proceeds would be apportioned, or proper time to consent to the sale.

She noted "there was no awareness that the trustees had no power to sell and no advice was sought from lawyers".

The trustees' lawyer, who came on board later, tried to address some of these issues, she said, but these "do not close the prior gaps in the process".

However, this decision does not preclude the trustees from going back to court to ask for the power for another collective sale, their lawyer Jimmy Yap told The Straits Times yesterday.

He said he will discuss the options with his clients.

The trustees were also ordered to pay legal costs of $7,000 to the dissenting stall owners, who were represented by Mr Gregory Vijayendran.

The food centre, which occupies the fourth floor of the strata-titled Beauty World Centre in Bukit Timah, comprises 41 food stalls, but the title of the property is contained in a single strata certificate.

This means that all the stall owners must agree before the food centre can be sold.

COURT & CRIME