Disgruntled members of The Pines club are edging towards a face-off in court with motoring tycoon Peter Kwee, as nearly 70 of them - and counting - have come together to sue Mr Kwee's company, which owned and managed the now-defunct club.
These members' decision follows a Dec 20, 2018 response by lawyers of Rajah & Tann, acting for Mr Kwee's company Exklusiv Resorts, which rejected the allegations in the members' letter of demand and described their claims as "baseless" and "unmeritorious".
Rajah & Tann added that they have instructions to accept service of the writ on behalf of Exklusiv Resorts if the members pursue the claims.
These members had, through their counsel Lau Kah Hee, sent Exklusiv Resorts the letter of demand on Nov 16, 2018, calling for the company to procure back one of the two hotels built by property developer Oxley Holdings along Stevens Road and convert it into the club premises "promised" to them in March 2013.
Another option is to procure for each member an "equivalent membership" in a city and country club near Stevens Road for a term at least equivalent to what each member has left.
Club member Lim Seng Hoo said members decided to escalate the legal action into a lawsuit following the denial of liability by Exklusiv Resorts in last December.
In a matter of three days, the club members have rallied 67 members - including some who had not joined them in the letter of demand - to commit to taking out a representative action against Exklusiv Resorts, alleging breach of contract.
The members say that when the club was closed for renovation in 2013, they understood that the club management had promised to build new facilities for them. In March that year, Exklusiv Resorts sold the entire land parcel (with a 103-year lease) to Oxley. Two hotels, Novotel Singapore and The Mercure Singapore opened on the plot in late 2017. (Just two weeks ago, the hotels were sold; Oxley accepted a letter of intent for the transaction.)
Mr Kwee earlier told The Business Times that he had offered memberships in the Laguna National Golf and Country Club and its upcoming Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore resort to members of The Pines. He maintains that he had not misrepresented The Pine's redevelopment plans to members, and that he had made a good offer - in that the membership he was offering would include rights to use the golf range at Laguna - a facility The Pines didn't have.
Mr Lim told BT that if the group of members on board the lawsuit reaches 100-strong, each can be expected to pay about S$4,000 in legal fees, including disbursements.
He estimated that The Pines had about 1,200 members. A meeting has been arranged at the RELC on Tuesday evening for their lawyer to explain the procedures to members.
This article was first published in The Business Times. Permission required for reproduction.