Chop Sun Cheong Loong v Lian Teck Trading Company

CourtObsolete Court (Malaysia)
Judgment Date19 April 1947
Date19 April 1947
Docket NumberCase No. 192
Malayan Union, Supreme Court.

(Spenser-Wilkinson, J.)

Case No. 192
Chop Sun Cheong Loong and Another
Lian Teck Trading Company.

Belligerent Occupation — Administrative Functions of Enemy Occupant — Establishment of Custodian of Enemy Property — Lease of Local Premises by Custodian — Validity of — Law of Malayan Union.

Belligerent Occupation — Effects of — Establishment by Occupant of Custodian of Enemy Property — Lease of Local Premises by Custodian — Legality of — Validity of Lease after Resumption of Control by Local Sovereign — Law of Malayan Union.

The Facts.—From 1937 until April 1944 the first plaintiffs were tenants of a shop at 95 High Street, Kuala Lumpur, which had been leased to them by the second plaintiff. On the latter date, over two years after the invasion and occupation of Malaya by Japanese forces, a Japanese military unit purported to take a sub-lease of the premises from the first plaintiffs. In May 1944, after declaring that the second plaintiff, who was absent from Malaya, was an enemy, the Japanese Custodian of Enemy Property transferred the title of the premises to a Japanese national who, a year later, sold the goodwill of the firm which carried on business in the premises to the defendants. The premises were then let to the defendants by the Japanese Custodian of Enemy Property. After the resumption of British jurisdiction over Malaya in September 1945, the second plaintiff offered a tenancy to the first plaintiffs which the latter accepted. No formal notice to quit was ever served on the defendants by the second plaintiff although the first plaintiffs purported to give such notice to quit. The present claim was for recovery of possession of the premises together with mesne profits from the first of the month immediately succeeding the resumption of British jurisdiction and for $10,000 damages suffered by the first plaintiffs. Counsel for the plaintiffs contended that the act of the Japanese Custodian of Enemy Property in putting the defendants into possession of the premises was contrary to international law and should not be recognized by the Court as valid. The Court was urged therefore to find that the defendants were trespassers and could be evicted without notice.

The defendants contended, on the other hand, that the letting of the premises to them by the Japanese Custodian of Enemy Property was a perfectly legitimate act; that in creating defendants' tenancy the Custodian was in a position analogous to that of a...

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