Court can order separate properties to be sold as a single lot

The Partition Ordinance does not allow the Court to bundle several properties together to form a single property. Once the Court has decided that each of the properties is to be sold it can order that they be sold as if they were a single lot. Co-owners cannot resist the making of an order for sale simply because they would prefer that the other co-owners be locked into the co-ownership and so to pay an inflated price to buy out the relevant shares.

Golden Bay Investment Ltd v Chou Hung ([1994] 2 HKC 197, CA) concerned four separate co-owned properties. The plaintiffs had applied for an order for sale in respect of them, either as a single lot or as four separate units. The four properties were all empty; the buildings on them had been demolished because they were unsafe. The Court of Appeal ordered that the properties be sold as a single lot. This was the obviously sensible course if the best price was to be obtained. The Court, having decided that each property was to be sold, is empowered by section 6(4) to give such necessary or proper consequential directions. This allows it to order that separate properties be sold as if they were a single lot. Bokhary JA also remarked that the Court would not refrain from making an order for sale simply in order to lock the plaintiffs into a co-ownership and so force them to buy in the remaining shares at an inflated price.

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