Saturday, January 30, 2010

Marina Bay IR sued by would-be tenant

EVEN before it opens for business, the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort is facing a High Court lawsuit.

A spa firm which had its tenancy rejected after a change of management in the IR has sued it for at least $250,000 – the minimum amount for High Court suits to start. Lawyers for both parties appeared in a closed-door court on Wednesday to discuss the exchange of documents in the run-up to the case.

Spa@Sands claims it was offered two units at the resort’s shopping complex, after which it paid close to $280,000 in upfront rent and stamp fees. It claims that it paid $233,660 for a month’s rent, along with about $45,000 in stamp fees.

According to court documents, its director, Mr Phang Song Hua, 43, was invited to make an offer to lease the premises in July last year. He is the founder of a geomancy and health lifestyle firm, New Trend Lifestyle. He registered Spa@Sands last July.

The rent offered by Mr Phang was priced at $10 per sq ft for the 23,366 sq ft area – about the size of 20 HDB five-room flats. In contrast, the rental at Ion Orchard is at least $30 psf.

Mr Phang claims that when MBS banked in the cheques for these sums, it showed that the IR had accepted the offer. Mr Phang had also signed and returned the lease that was attached to the letter of offer by the July 13 deadline.

Spa@Sands made a presentation to MBS senior management at their request and was told on Aug 12 that its offer had been accepted. At the same time, the two cheques were also cleared.

But a few days later, there was a change in the senior management at the IR. The following month, the spa was told that its offer had been rejected.

It is understood Spa@Sands is seeking damages to recover the manpower and other costs incurred in the preparations to start the spa. It is alternatively asking the court to declare there was a valid agreement between the parties.

MBS argued through lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam from Stamford Law that it had not accepted the offer, or it would have signed its acceptance in the letter of offer and returned it to Spa@Sands.

It pointed to a condition in the offer letter issued that states that unless the tenant’s offer is accepted by the landlord, the landlord had the right to deal with other parties. The sum paid by the spa was also refunded.

But the spa, through Unilegal’s Chan Fook Meng, took issue with the claim, pointing out that while MBS could have shown its acceptance by signing the offer letter after it was signed by the spa, that was not the only way which acceptance could be signified.

It said MBS showed acceptance by banking the cheques, and that there was verbal agreement by its staff. MBS was not limited to signing the offer letter but could vary its mode of acceptance.

Source: Straits Times, 30 Jan 2010

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