Singapore Court of Appeal construes section 29(2) of Land Acquisition Act on appeals to Court of Appeal and dismisses application to strike out appeal
19 December 2019
YCH Distripark Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue  SGCA 59
The application before the Singapore Court of Appeal in YCH Distripark Pte Ltd v Collector of Land Revenue was commenced by the Collector of Land Revenue (“Collector”) to strike out YCH Distripark Pte Ltd’s (“YCH”) notice of appeal against an award by the Appeals Board (“Board”) constituted under the Land Acquisition Act (“Act”) on the grounds that the notice of appeal disclosed no reasonable cause of action and/or was otherwise an abuse of the process of the court. The Collector contended that section 29(2) of the Act would prevent YCH from filing a notice of appeal given that the Collector’s award in relation to the disputed portion of the award was S$0.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the Collector’s application, construing the phrase “award, as determined by the Board” in section 29(2) of the Act as referring to the total composite amount awarded by the Board on both disputed and undisputed portions of an award by the Collector.
Pursuant to a declaration by the Collector to acquire the property of which YCH was sub-lessee (“Property”), YCH submitted a claim for compensation for the loss suffered in respect of its interest as a sub-lessee of the Property (“Lease Interest”) and for relocation expenses.
The Collector issued a Collector’s award stipulated as being compensation for the depreciated value of YCH’s Automated Storage and Retrieval System (“ASRS”), a specialised system designed for automated storage and retrieval of pellets, which YCH stored at the Property. No compensation was awarded for the Lease Interest and relocation expenses. YCH filed a notice of appeal to the Board against the Collector’s award and submitted a revised claim seeking compensation for its Lease Interest, relocation expenses and the depreciated value of the ASRS.
The Collector subsequently issued a supplementary award which comprised compensation for relocation expenses and the depreciated value of the ASRS. There was again no award for YCH’s Lease Interest.
On appeal to the Board, YCH only contested the Collector’s decision not to award any compensation for the alleged Lease Interest. The Board upheld the Collector’s decision and did not award YCH any compensation for the Lease Interest.
YCH filed a notice of appeal, and the Collector filed the present application to strike out the notice of appeal.
The Collector’s main contention before the Court of Appeal was that section 29(2) of the Act would prevent YCH from filing a notice of appeal given that the Collector’s award in relation to the disputed portion of the award was S$0. Section 29(2) of the Act governs appeals from the Board to the Court of Appeal and provides that, in any case in which the award, as determined by the Board (excluding the amount of any costs awarded) exceeds S$5,000, the appellant or the Collector may appeal to the Court of Appeal from the decision of the Board upon any question of law.
Court of Appeal decision
The Court of Appeal dismissed the Collector’s application, finding that the ordinary meaning of the phrase “award, as determined by the Board” in section 29(2) of the Act refers to the total composite amount awarded by the Board on both the portions of the Collector’s award which were disputed before it and the portions of the Collector’s award which were not disputed before it. The court was of the view that this interpretation is confirmed by the extraneous material relating to the Act and the legislative purpose of section 29(2). The court was also of the view that its interpretation of the phrase in question was entirely consistent with the legislative purpose of section 29(2), which was to ensure judicial time and resources are not wasted on appeals that relate solely to questions of fact and appeals on claims that have been determined by the Board to be low in value.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the Collector’s application.