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Market Prices Went Up!
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High Court orders woman to complete sale of HDB flat. (Straits Times, Wednesday, September 6, 1995)
A woman who backed out of a deal to sell her five-room HDB flat to a couple has been ordered by the High Court to complete the sale.
Justice Warren Khoo said the only reason Madam Chin Mee Yuen had second thoughts about selling the flat was that prices were going up. The flat is now worth $340,000.
Madam Chin, unemployed, and her mother, Madam Khiew Wah Ying, 75, were sued by printing supervisor Lock Wee Chan, 38, and his wife, Madam Teo Bee Choo, 39, for breach of contract to sell them her Tampines flat for $181,000. The couple had made a deposit of $1,000.
Last Thursday, Justice Khoo found in his judgment that a contract had been concluded for the sale of the property. He rejected Madam Chin's evidence that she had been persuaded by the agent to sign a blank sale and purchase agreement.
The couple saw the flat and offered to buy it for $181,000 on March 24, 1993. Mr Lock handed a $1,000 deposit to the agent after Madam Chin agreed to the price.
The agreement was signed. Madam Khiew signed it three days later and the $1,000 cheque was handed to Madam Chin. She banked the cheque two days later.
About a month later, Madam Chin told Mr Lock that she was not going ahead with the sale, and offered to pay him liquidated damages.
Justice Khoo rejected Madam Chin's evidence that when she and her mother signed the agreement, all the blanks had not been filled in.
But in her affidavit, filed in May last year, she stated that the buyer's names and price had not been filled in. "No attempt was made to clarify these apparent and rather significant inconsistences," he said.
He could not help but think that Madam Chin had been "improvising and improving" her story as she went along.
Madam Chin, he said, struck him as a shrewed woman. He felt that she would not have accepted the $1,000 cheque, let alone bank it in, if all the essential details had not been agreed upon and inserted in the form.
Justice Khoo accepted Mr Lock's evidence that, a few days after the contract was concluded on April 1, the HDB amended its sregulations, liberalising the use of Central Provident Fund money to buy HDB flat.
The judge said it was clearly a misconce8ived notion for Madam Chin to think that she had the right to back out of the agreement by paying liquidated damages.
He ordered that the flat be transferred to the couple within three months against payment of the purchase price minus the $1,000 deposit.  He also awarded costs to the couple.

Lessons Learnt
1) Once a contract has been concluded, it is difficult to rescind it.
2) Even if there is provision in the contract to rescind the contract and pay liquidated damages to the other party,  the court may rule against it if the reason to rescind the contract is found to be an excuse to take advantage of situation - such as market price has increased rather than hardship etc.

$90K higher offer, so owner tries to back out of deal. Judge says: Sorry, you must sell. 12 Jan 2008

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