Postponement of condo AGM ruled invalid

The police were called in amid a stand-off involving the managing agent of Pine Grove condominium (right) yesterday and the parties were advised to settle their differences.
The police (above) were called in amid a stand-off involving the managing agent of Pine Grove condominium yesterday and the parties were advised to settle their differences.PHOTO: ST READER
The police were called in amid a stand-off involving the managing agent of Pine Grove condominium (right) yesterday and the parties were advised to settle their differences.
The police were called in amid a stand-off involving the managing agent of Pine Grove condominium (above) yesterday and the parties were advised to settle their differences.PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

New management council set to take over after Strata Titles Board rules against previous council

Pine Grove condominium appeared set to switch to a newly elected management council (MC) after the Strata Titles Board ruled that the previous council's move to postpone an annual general meeting (AGM) was invalid.

The board, in decision grounds released last week, said there is no provision in the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act for postponing a general meeting after a valid notice to convene one has been issued.

The board, comprising Mr F.G. Remedios, Mr Lawrence Ang and Ms Vicki Lo, said the MC does not have the power or duty to take an action not provided for in the referred Act.

Last October, Pine Grove's MC issued a notice for the AGM to be held on Nov 30. It contained a list of resolutions, including the election of a new council. But a day before the AGM was due, the MC issued an unsigned notice postponing the AGM to a new date to be fixed.

The MC told the Strata Titles Board that the decision to adjourn the AGM was made after a lengthy discussion at an emergency meeting on Nov 28. It said the AGM was postponed pending the conclusion of an investigation into "proxy forms and misinformation disseminated over the last few weeks", among other things.

But unit owners turned up at the place of the meeting and proceeded as scheduled after 30 minutes.

The MC chairman, Ms S. Kogilambal, who was in the management office, was invited to chair the meeting but did not do so. Subsequently, one Joseph Ignatius was elected to chair the meeting and 11 other people were elected as members of the 23rd management council.

Two unit owners, Mr Mok Chik Pow and Ms Audrey Chua, subsequently applied to the Strata Titles Board to decide if the 22nd council's notice to postpone the Nov 30 AGM was valid.

Their lawyer, Ms Liesel Chong, argued that the postponement notice was invalid and that key office-holders of the 22nd council continued to act as council members.

The 22nd council's lawyers, Mr Subir Singh Grewal and Ms Jasmin Kang, countered that Parliament did not intend to regulate the procedure and circumstances under which a management corporation may postpone or cancel a general meeting. This meant that an AGM can be postponed even after notice for one has been issued.

The Strata Titles Board, in its ruling, said that under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, "stringent requirements must be complied with before a general meeting can be adjourned and under these circumstances it is incongruous that anyone should be able to effect the postponement of a properly scheduled meeting by merely issuing an unsigned notice announcing that the meeting has been postponed".

Reacting to the ruling, the incoming chairman of the 23rd MC, Mrs Cheryn Liew, said it was taking the necessary steps to take over as soon as possible. "As required of a new MCST (management corporation strata title) council, our particulars were lodged and accepted by the Building and Construction Authority on Wednesday," she added.

The Strata Titles Board said that under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, "stringent requirements must be complied with before a general meeting can be adjourned and under these circumstances it is incongruous that anyone should be able to effect the postponement of a properly scheduled meeting by merely issuing an unsigned notice announcing that the meeting has been postponed".

She said she looked forward to a smooth transition, despite a stand-off yesterday involving the estate's managing agent, previously hired by the 22nd MC. The police were called in and the parties were advised to settle their differences.

Mrs Liew said: "In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are taking over at a very challenging time and our priority is to ensure the estate implements all the guidelines issued by the authorities as far as possible and keep all residents safe and healthy."

Mr Singh, the lawyer for the 22nd council, said they were weighing their legal options.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2020, with the headline 'Postponement of condo AGM ruled invalid'. Print Edition | Subscribe