Automobile association wins carpark dispute

SINGAPORE - The Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS) will get to keep its use of up to 66 parking spaces at the building it shares with residential units after the High Court dismissed a management corporation bid to regain control of them.

The AAS owns the first six levels of the Automobile Centre, a 14-storey freehold building in River Valley Road.

It was allotted use of the spots after a resolution was passed at an extraordinary general meeting held by the building's management council in 2003.

But last August, the management council cut the AAS' allocation to just two parking spaces and imposed restrictions on the rest - including wheel-clamping cars in reserved spaces, erecting chains and imposing parking time limits.

It wanted to ensure that common property previously used by the AAS was enjoyed fairly by all proprietors.

The AAS took the issue to the High Court where Justice Lai Siu Chiu last week held the council had erred in its move and that the 2003 by-laws were valid and binding.

AAS owns 78.2 per cent of shares for the Automobile Centre.

The seventh to 14 levels consist of 28 residential units in the hands of individual owners.

The AAS owns two commercial lots from the first to the sixth levels.

The management corporation argued the 2003 arrangements had been overtaken by a change in building laws in 2005 which mandated the management to administer and control common property like carparks for all subsidiary proprietors.

The management's lawyer Wong Siew Hong argued that AAS' use based on the 2003 by-laws had been overtaken by new building maintenance laws enacted in 2005.

But WongPartnership lawyer Chan Hock Keng countered for the AAS that the management council deliberately violated and ignored the 2003 by-laws by restricting carpark use through the time limits and other means.

He added the new 2005 building maintenance laws did not change the 2003 by-laws enacted under the Land Title (Strata) Act in relation to the carpark.

The court agreed and among other things barred the management corporation from clamping any vehicles parked at reserved lots, imposing parking time limits or setting up chains to prevent access to four parking decks.

The court further ordered that damages payable to the AAS should not be taken from the AAS contributions to the management fund.

AAS chief executive officer Lee Wai Mun said yesterday it was pleased the court upheld the 2003 by-laws "to ensure and regulate the fair and orderly use of the 94 carpark spaces".

He added: "It is important for us to ensure that our rights are recognised and that our services to our members and to the public are not interrupted."

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