Minimart man's case against condo deemed 'hopeless'

Minimart man's case against condo deemed 'hopeless'

A minimart operator who spent five years trying to sue the management of the condo where his store was based has seen his bid dismissed as "hopeless" by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Sambasivam Kunju, 48, ran Nim Minimaart at the Nim Garden condominium in Yio Chu Kang. He first tried to sue its management in 2009, alleging breach of a licence agreement after it failed to extend the lease for an additional year.

The case was first heard in the District Court where it was settled after three days. Mr Sambasivam later appealed to the High Court claiming he was put under pressure to settle the case.

The High Court ordered it to be reheard by the District Court in December 2009. Lasting eight days, this case was also dismissed as the judge ruled there had been no breach of contract. A High Court appeal last year also failed.

Mr Sambasivam then missed a deadline to seek permission from the High Court judge to appeal further to the apex court. He applied for a time extension but this was turned down by the High Court.

The Appeal Court has now dismissed his application for a declaration on whether he needed permission or leave to appeal against the High Court's decision. It said he had not adhered to correct procedures and deadlines, and it had no jurisdiction to go around the law to further help him.

In judgment grounds released last week, the Court of Appeal made clear that Mr Sambasivam had ample opportunities to air his claims and was not suffering from "any want of access to justice".

"There was a chameleon-like character to the way the nature of (Mr Sambasivam's) action developed to suit the circumstances," wrote Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon. "Whichever guise this case took, it was evident... that (his) was ultimately a hopeless cause."

The appeal court added that even if it was empowered to extend the time so Mr Sambasivam could take up the case again, "we cannot see that it would have been anything other than one more futile step".

The court said it issued the decision grounds to "clarify any perceived ambiguity in the law and... in the hope that this might help put an end to to this litigation".

vijayan@sph.com.sg


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