Date set for 2nd S'pore hearing into Oei Hong Leong's land dispute

Date set for 2nd S'pore hearing into Oei Hong Leong's land dispute

A SECOND hearing in Singapore has been set for the case between Singapore tycoon Oei Hong Leong and Canada's Concord Pacific Acquisitions, the company against which he began action last October over a disputed plot of prime land on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver.

The hearing, originally scheduled on Wednesday, has been adjourned to April 15 because the counsel involved could not be present.

Mr Oei is represented by Alvin Yeo and Koh Swee Yen from WongPartnership, and the defendant, Concord, by Harpreet Singh and Jordan Tan of Cavenagh Law.

The defendant has yet to submit its case to the Court in response to Mr Oei's statement of claim, although it had submitted its application and affidavit after the first hearing on Dec 7.

The Canadian developer was denied a time extension to file its defence on Dec 7, but the Court granted it time to file its affidavit explaining why the matter should be heard in Canada, not Singapore.

The Business Times understands that Concord believes Canada to be the more appropriate forum to have the case heard, and has tried to halt further progress in the Singapore proceedings, which in fact preceded the Canadian proceedings.

Concurrently, a case is being fought in Canada, where Concord filed a civil claim against Mr Oei in January, alleging that it had an agreement with the businessman and his companies to jointly develop the plot.

On Feb 29, Mr Oei said the claim was false and filed a civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, alleging that Concord had abused the court process and interfered with his rights to develop the site with other parties.

Mr Oei alleged that Concord "deliberately" made the false statements to "induce or compel" him and his company, Canadian Metropolitan Properties Corp (CMPC), to continue negotiations with it, thus hemming his ability to seek partnerships with other Canadian developers.

Now, in the Singapore proceedings, Mr Oei is asking for a declaration that the subject heads of agreement, into which both parties had entered on May 14, 2015, had been "validly terminated".

He is also asking for a sum of C$40 million (S$41.5 million), and, alternatively, for damages to be assessed, as well as other relief as the Court deems fit.

Mr Oei said that, in the heads of agreement, Concord had agreed to buy half of his shares in Hong Kong Expo (the holding company of CMPC) for C$250 million, to help develop, rezone and build a mixed-use project on the plot.

The eventual property would comprise homes, retail and office space, a hotel, a community centre, an ice rink and a sports science centre.

Concord allegedly made the initial payment of C$10 million, but missed the deadline for the payment of the interim sum of C$40 million last Aug 6, despite Mr Oei's solicitors notifying it that legal action would be commenced if it did not pay up.

Concord allegedly never replied. Another letter sent to Concord two weeks later also went unanswered.

In his statement of claim, Mr Oei wrote: "The defendant has to date failed to remedy its breach. The defendant's conduct amounts to a clear and unequivocal repudiation of the agreement. The plaintiff accepts such repudiation and terminates the agreement."

When approached and asked to comment on what Concord's next course of action might be, the defendant's Singapore legal representative Mr Singh declined comment.

This article was first published on March 10, 2016.
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