Decision establishes and confirms new Singapore law on division of assets
Court of Appeal — Civil Appeal No 22 of 2015
Chao Hick Tin JA, Judith Prakash J and Quentin Loh J 9 September 2015
Family law — Matrimonial assets — Division
Asset Division – Family Law Department Deputy Head Dorothy Tan successfully argued and won a significant and landmark case at Singapore’s highest court, the Court of Appeal today. This is an extremely important decision because in this case, the Court of Appeal affirmed and explained its earlier revolutionary decision in ANJ v ANK on the approach the Singapore courts must take in deciding the division of matrimonial assets. All divorce cases in Singapore involving division of assets must now follow this case and ANJ vs ANK.
This is a case in which our client (the husband) had instructed us to act for him after he had lost at the lower court.
After hearing arguments, the Court of Appeal allowed our client’s appeal and agreed with Dorothy that the High Court decision was wrong and awarded our client a sum of $800,000 for division of assets. Our client’s share was increased from 0% to 25%.
The Court of Appeal said: “ In advancing her arguments, Miss (Dorothy) Tan highlighted the fact that the Judge had erred in law by applying what was generally known as the “uplift” methodology. This error consisted of taking the view that the wife’s indirect contributions should be reflected by applying an “uplift” to the share she would have been entitled to on the basis of her indirect financial contributions only. We accepted Miss Tan’s contentions on this score and we considered that the Judge had erred in that regard.”
This case is extremely important and significant because the Court of Appeal reaffirmed and clarified its recent decision in ANJ vs ANK that in determining what is a fair and equitable division of matrimonial assets, the court will follow a structured approach consisting of 3 broad steps. These 3 broad steps are:
- Express as a ratio the parties’ direct contributions relative to each other, having regard to the amount of financial contribution each party made towards the acquisition or improvement of the matrimonial assets;
- Express as a second ratio the parties’ indirect contributions relative to each other, having regard to both financial and non-financial contributions; and
- Derive the parties’ overall contributions relative to each other by taking an average of the two ratios above, keeping in mind that, depending on the circumstances of each case, the direct and indirect contributions may not be accorded equal weight and one of the two ratios may be accorded more significance than the other.
Family Law Head Mr Lim Chong Boon said, “ This case together with ANJ is now taken as the new law in Singapore on division of assets. After the decision in ANJ, family law practioners were trying to understand the change in law. The Court of Appeal took the opportunity in this case to explain the new law and to reaffirm it. At a recent family law seminar, this case and ANJ were cited as the new law governing the division of assets in Singapore. Deputy Head Dorothy Tan has done us all proud. Our client is also extremely happy with the outcome.”
For more information on this case, please contact PKWA Law at 6397-6100.