Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gillman Heights en bloc dispute goes to Court of Appeal

Yasmine Yahya

[email protected]

DESPITE the recession, the saga over the Gillman Heights en bloc sale continues, as some minority owners from the 608-unit development off Alexandra Road take their fight to the highest court to block the sale.

The 10 minority owners have filed for a hearing with the Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn the decision made by the High Court in June that allowed the $548 million collective sale to Singapore’s largest listed developer CapitaLand and its partners.

The minority owners — who have been battling the sale since last year — contend that the laws governing en bloc sales do not apply to former HUDC estates such as Gillman heights.

And even if the laws did apply, they argue that the Strata Titles Board (STB) was wrong to approve the Gillman Heights deal, when it received consent from only 87.5 per cent of the owners.

Under present rules, a collective sale can proceed if it garners consent from 80 per cent of the owners in an estate that is more than 10 years old, and 90 per cent if the estate is less than 10 years old.

The minority owners’ stand is that even though Gillman Heights was completed in 1984, it was privatised from an HUDC estate only in 2002 and is therefore less than 10 years old.

In June, Justice Choo Han Teck ruled in the High Court that Gillman Heights was more than 10 years old and added that the 22 minority owners did not provide adequate reasons why the sale should be stopped.

But 10 of those 22 minority owners are now planning to use a similar argument, among others, to fight the case in the Court of Appeal, saying that the legal age of the development should be counted from 2002, when it received Certificates of Strata Completion.

The others have dropped out of the fight.

The family of Ms Nadia Abdullah, 24, was among those who fought against the original STB decision.

“We didn’t want the sale at all in the beginning but now I’m hoping we can get it over and done with, so we can move forward,” she said.

The Court of Appeal hearing is set for February.