Purchasers’ right to be heard before extension of time is granted.
Where the right to be heard is not expressly stated in the statute or regulation, then whether the Minister had taken the interest of the purchasers into account must depend on the particular and peculiar circumstances of each case. In this case, there was no express requirement of a right to be heard that must be given to the Purchasers. What was required of the Minister here was to act honestly and by honest means; to act justly and to reach just ends by just means in relation to natural justice in an administrative law context. The decision of the Minister had to be decided by the light of reason and logic, as well as the exceptional exigencies that existed when the decision was made.
Genuine need for an extension of time to complete.
The Court of Appeal recognized that Parliament, in its wisdom, had granted this flexibility to the Minister in charge so that in valid and worthy cases, a balancing act may be done to extend the time of completion, taking into consideration the delay caused, which was beyond the developer’s control and the extent of completion of the project as a whole and the interest of the purchasers who would be saying that they do not care what is the cause of delay but that they must be compensated under the agreed formula provided in the statutory Sale and Purchase Agreement.
However, the Court felt that one must not end up punishing a developer so as to protect purchasers. The Minister would have to take into consideration all these factors so as to come to a decision that is fair, reasonable and just.
Should the court interfere with the Minister’s decision to grant an extension of time?
The Court is always positioned to review Minister’s decision by way of a judicial review and it would know when to strike it down when it does not comport with the principles of fairness, reasonableness, proportionality and basically human decency.
In this case, the Court of Appeal was satisfied that this was not a case where the Developer was trying to take advantage of the Purchasers but one where, in reality, but for the extension of time and the resourcefulness of the Developer, this Project might well not have been completed, to the detriment of all. The Court was of the opinion that this was a case of a genuine need for the extension of time corresponding to the period of delay caused by the stop work order which was not through any fault of the Developer.