A 46-year-old man who had won a High Court fight with his father in February for shares worth $1.8 million will now have to return two-thirds of them, after the Court of Appeal overturned the earlier judgment.
The shares were put in the name of Mr Andrew Tan but the appeals court yesterday found that his father, Mr Robert Tan, had always intended to give the assets to his three children equally, including the former.
The court - Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Quentin Loh - ordered the younger Mr Tan to transfer two-thirds of the shares to the older Mr Tan, who will hold the assets as trustee for his other two children.
Mr Andrew Tan will keep his one-third stake.
The spat has its roots in events going back 30 years.
Mr Robert Tan is one of nine children of the late Madam Yeo Siew Guat, who owned 950 shares in a family-owned company named Tai Sing Realty.
In 1981, Madam Yeo sold her shares to investment company Hock Ann Holdings.
In 1983, each of her nine children were issued shares in Hock Ann. However, in the case of Mr Robert Tan, he wanted to have his stake placed in the name of Andrew, then a 16-year-old student in England.
After Madam Yeo died in September 2009 at age 92, the siblings agreed to liquidate the trust and share the money in nine portions.
However, the youngest of the nine, Ms Joscelyn Tan, who is the trustee of the block of shares, could not distribute Mr Robert Tan's portion.
Ms Tan considered Mr Andrew Tan to be the legal owner, but Mr Robert Tan told her his portion should be given to him and not his son.
When father and son failed to settle the dispute, Ms Tan took the matter to court in 2012.
In February, the High Court ruled in favour of Mr Andrew Tan, holding that Mr Robert Tan had given his stake to his son as a gift. The older Tan, represented by Mr S. Magintharan and Mr James Liew, appealed.
Yesterday, the appeals court found that the evidence, including the testimony of one of the nine siblings, showed Mr Robert Tan had consistently indicated that he wanted his three children to benefit equally from the assets.
This article was published on Aug 19 in The Straits Times.
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