Questions hang over the compensation payable to Jurong Country Club (JCC) for its acquisition for use as the high-speed rail link terminus. Lawyers say it is far from clear whether the thousands of members are likely to get a cut.
The club was told on Monday that the 67ha site would be acquired by the Singapore Land Authority, with compensation "based on market value". It must hand over the land by November next year.
Eldan Law partner Wong Siew Hong said that, as a registered society, the club's funds are governed by its Constitution. But the Constitution appears to be silent on what it should do with the extra funds in this case, which means the proceeds must be used in line with club objectives, said Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Robson Lee. According to the Constitution, these are: Being a "premier golf and country club", acquiring or managing other golf and resort facilities, and making reciprocal or affiliation arrangements with other clubs to extend its activities.
Members may also decide on other activities at a general meeting if these do not breach its Constitution or wider laws.
The natural move would be to buy a replacement golf course, for example, said Mr Lee. "If members want to distribute the money among themselves, it would be a very major decision that the general committee could have to clear with the Registry of Societies."
This would be complicated too as the club has about 17 different membership classes. The club has about 2,700 members, of whom 400 are non-voting.
If the club is dissolved, its assets must be distributed to charities after dissolution, noted Lee & Lee partner Gan Theng Chong.
But this could be unlikely as, notwithstanding other rules, dissolution can happen only by a resolution of a general meeting of the club and with the consent of three-fifths of the members resident in Singapore at the time, according to the Constitution.
Members are set to have a say as the Constitution requires the committee to call an extraordinary general meeting "when any question of importance arises".
The club has set up a taskforce to work with the authorities.
Compensation for the site is likely to be "reasonable and fair and based on the market situation", the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers said.
The remaining 20 years of lease would affect the value and compensation to be paid. "The shorter the lease that is unexpired, the lower will be the value."
This article was first published on May 14, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.