Sentimental attachment: a reason not to make an order for sale?

In Ip Fung Ying v Cheng Chi Chung ([2011] HKEC 894) the District Court had to consider an application for an order for sale under section 6 of the Partition Ordinance. The parties were a divorced couple. Consent orders were made in the divorce proceedings: each party owned 50% of the equity; both of them could stay in the property as separate households; and if the property were sold the net proceeds of sale were to be shared equally between them. In the event, the parties could not live happily under the same roof. The wife and daughter moved out and the wife made the application for an order for sale. The husband opposed the application alleging an oral promise by the wife made before the consent orders that she would not seek to sell the property. He also alleged that he had a sentimental attachment to the property and that its sale would cause him hardship. The court made the order for sale. If the wife had made the promise and if it had been relied on by the husband why wasn’t it recorded in writing? In any event, the allegation of the promise was inconsistent with the express terms of the order which contemplated a possible sale. The alleged sentimental attachment cut no ice with the court. The husband had allowed the physical state of his part of the property to deteriorate badly. This was hardly consistent with a strong attachment to it. Partition was not possible.

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