High Court allows Teochew-v-Teochew spat to be heard in open court

The Ngee Ann Kongsi had applied for a court order by way of originating summons for the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan to yield possession of the 183.5 sq m office space it occupies in the Teochew Building at 97 Tank Road.
The Ngee Ann Kongsi had applied for a court order by way of originating summons for the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan to yield possession of the 183.5 sq m office space it occupies in the Teochew Building at 97 Tank Road.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The High Court has ruled that the Teochew-versus-Teochew spat centred on the Teochew Building be heard in an open court, where witnesses, if available, can be called to support a case, among other things.

Senior Judge Andrew Ang allowed the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan's application to convert the current originating summons by the Ngee Ann Kongsi to a writ action, which means the case is heard in an open court. He said the move will enable a fairer resolution of the dispute.

He found there was a "substantial dispute of fact likely to arise", which was a "threshold condition" for the court to consider using its discretion to convert the originating summons to a writ action.

The court deemed conversion suitable given other procedural advantages to help determine the case.

The Ngee Ann Kongsi had applied last year for a court order by way of originating summons for the Huay Kuan to yield possession of the 183.5 sq m office space it occupies in the building at 97 Tank Road.

The Huay Kuan applied to the court earlier this year to convert the originating summons into a writ action, which Ngee Ann Kongsi resisted.

The court approved the Huay Kuan's application on Wednesday (Oct 30).

"The discovery regime under a writ action would enable a fairer resolution of the present dispute," said Senior Judge Ang.

The events behind the dispute span more than 100 years involving the history of two of Singapore's most prominent Teochew organisations, he noted.

 

"It is sad to see the two organisations unable to resolve matters amicably, despite what I find to be a clear history of fraternal relations between them," he said.