CORPORATE REAL ESTATE
Construction –Developer and purchaser – Sale and purchase agreement – Delivery of vacant possession – Extension of time – Right of hearing – Whether the purchasers ought to have given a right of hearing prior to the decision made by the Controller and/or Minister granting the developer an extension of time to complete the project
Menteri Kesejahteraan Bandar, Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan and Another v Ang Ming Lee & 34 Others and 4 Other Appeals
Civil Appeal Nos. W-01(A)-80-03/2017, W-01(A)-81-03/2017, W-01(A)-86-03/2017, W-01(A)-400-03/2017 & W-01(A)-451-03/2017, Court of Appeal
Facts BHL Construction Sdn Bhd, one of the appellants, is the developer (“the Developer”) of a project to build a condominium (“the Project”). The respondents are purchasers (“the Purchasers”) of individual condominium units. The Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPA) between the Developer and the Purchasers stipulate that the time period for delivery of vacant possession of the units shall be 36 months from the date of signing of the SPAs. The Developer had applied for an extension of time for delivery of vacant possession to the Controller of Housing, Ministry for Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (“the Controller”) but this was not approved. Subsequently, the Developer lodged an appeal to the Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (“the Minister”) listing the reasons for the delay in completing the Project within the stipulated period. The Developer claimed that such appeal was approved by the Minister (“the Approval Letter”). There was a delay in the completion of the Project and the Developers became liable to pay damages to the Purchasers. However, the decision by the Minister extinguished their right to claim damages. Aggrieved, the purchasers filed for judicial review and sought to quash the decision of the Controller/Minister, which amended the time period of delivery of vacant possession from 36 months to 48 months. The High Court granted the application. Hence, this appeal.
Issue The main issue is whether the purchasers ought to have given a right of hearing prior to the decision made by the Controller and/or Minister granting the developer an extension of time to complete the project.
Held The Court of Appeal held that the purpose of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 (“the Act”) was to protect the interest of the purchasers. Thus the Purchasers must be given an opportunity to be heard and should at least be notified of the developer’s application for any extension of time to complete the project and be given a reasonable period of time to state their views before any such decision is taken. Therefore, since no such right was afforded to the Purchasers, the decision made, whether by the Controller of Minister, was null and void, and of no effect, and should be set aside.