sg-crest A Singapore Government Agency Website
Official website links end with
Secure websites use HTTPS
Look for a lock () or https:// as an added precaution. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Chan Tin Sun v Fong Quay Sim [2015] SGCA 2

Outcome: Appeal allowed


1 The Husband appealed against the decision of the High Court in respect of the division of matrimonial assets. The two main issues on appeal were (a) whether the High Court had erred in failing to adequately consider the Wife’s misconduct in awarding the Wife a 35% share of the matrimonial assets and (b) whether the High Court had erred in drawing an adverse against the Husband and awarding the Wife an additional 7% share of the matrimonial assets over and above the 35% share already awarded. 

Court’s Decision:

2 The hearing of the ancillaries is not intended to be another forum for parties to dredge up accusations and allegations relating to each other’s conduct. The court is not equipped to scrutinise the conduct of the parties to assign blame, not should it do so in light of the no-fault basis of divorce embodied in the Act. In the premises, the court only ought to have regard to conduct that is both extreme (ie, manifestly serious) and undisputed in exercising its powers under s112(1) of the Act: at [25].

3 The Court of Appeal did not object, in principle, to ascribing a negative value to a spouse’s misconduct when valuing parties’ contribution to the marriage. The prevailing ideology is that of marriage as an equal co-operative partnership of efforts for the mutual benefit of both spouses. Where a spouse not only fails to contribute to the marriage, but also engages in conduct that fundamentally undermines the co-operative partnership and harms the welfare of the other, a negative value could plausibly be ascribed to such conduct: at [27]

4 In ascribing a negative value to a spouse’s misconduct, the court is not seeking to punish the wrongdoing spouse. Rather, the court does so as part of the exercise of valuing the spouse’s contribution to the marriage. The court also emphasise that no one factor should be determinative in deciding what is a just and equitable division of the matrimonial assets: at [28].

5 There are at least two alternative approaches to give effect to the adverse inference drawn against a spouse. Ultimately, the appropriate approach would depend on the facts of the case subject to the overriding impetus of achieving a just and equitable result (at [64] and [65]):

(a) The first approach is for the court to make a finding of the value of the undisclosed assets on the available evidence and for the party dissatisfied with the value attributed to show that it is unreasonable; if the dissatisfied party is unable to do so, the value is then included in the matrimonial pool for division. 

(b) The second approach is for the court to order a higher proportion of the known assets to be given to the relevant party in the circumstance that it might be more just and equitable to do so. 

6 Where the appropriated sum of money or the value of the undeclared property is known, the approach that will best achieve an equitable and just result is to add the known sum or value back into the matrimonial pool for division: at [66].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.


Share this page: