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High Court dismisses Chinese businessman’s claims against Huttons and agent in misrepresentation suit

High Court dismisses Chinese businessman’s claims against Huttons and agent in misrepresentation suit

Source: Business Times
Article Date: 18 Apr 2024
Author: Jessie Lim

Dispute concerns sale and purchase of S$5.1m condo unit at Lloyd Sixty-Five which he was granted an option to purchase and had made payments amounting to S$1.5m.

The Chinese businessman who claimed a Huttons property agent had made several misrepresentations relating to a condominium unit he paid about S$1.5 million for has failed to prove his case. 

On Wednesday (Apr 17), Justice S Mohan dismissed all of Chen Qiming’s claims against Huttons property agent Ong Jianlong and his agency.

The dispute concerned the sale and purchase of a S$5.1 million condominium unit at Lloyd SixtyFive, a freehold project in District 9 for which Chen was granted an option to purchase and had made substantial payments amounting to S$1.5 million. 

However, those payments were ultimately forfeited when Chen failed to exercise the option in October 2020 and pay the remainder of the purchase price within the time allowed.

According to Chen, Ong had told him that Chen could construct a loft to extend the length of the study room by five metres starting from the inner wall of the study room. Chen also claimed that Ong had said he would be able to resell the unit without much difficulty. 

Huttons and Ong have denied this claim, adding that the developer’s loft was intended to show that a loft of five square metres could be created. 

Justice Mohan said: “The available evidence points, in my view, to a real possibility that Chen misunderstood what Ong had said about constructing a loft on the second floor of the property. Chen rejects this notion, but he has otherwise adduced no evidence to demonstrate its improbability.”

The judge acknowledged that neither side had access to contemporaneous WeChat messages exchanged between them which would likely have shed some useful light on the issue, meaning that there were significant gaps in the narrative.

As for Chen’s claim that Ong had told him he would be able to resell the property without much difficulty, the defendants’ position was that Ong never made any promises in connection with the resale of the property, Justice Mohan said. 

While Chen and Ong had strategised to achieve a sale for the unit in a phone call in September 2020, there was no prior agreement between Chen and Ong as to the compensation the latter could expect in return for his services, the judge said. 

He added: “It is inherently difficult to believe that a real estate agent would promise (or undertake) to secure a buyer for a property at a defined price range and within a specified period of time.”

Ong also categorically rejected Chen’s instructed lawyer’s claim that he had promised to sell the property within three to six months. 

“Ong explained that three to six months was his estimation of how long it would take to do so – an estimation that was only given in response to Chen’s inquiries on the matter,” said the judge.

He added: “In light of my decision that Chen has failed to make out any of his claims against Ong, it follows that there is also no basis upon which Huttons can be held vicariously liable.”

Source: Business Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

Chen Qiming v Huttons Asia Pte Ltd and others [2024] SGHC 103


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