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A sensationalized Singapore news about a lawsuit that involved some of the members of high society in Asia had its results in the Singapore International Commercial Court on February 21.

The main focus of the legal battle is the US$7.9 million contract for a luxurious villa at Phuket, Thailand named Andara Resort & Villas. However, what grasped the attention of the general public is the individuals involved in the case. 

The persons involved in the dispute are members of Asia’s elite. This includes Christian Larpin who is a billionaire owning a modeling agency and an investment firm, Solomon Lew who is an Australian entrepreneur and owns several shopping malls, and Kai Nargolwala who is a board member of an investment company. 

It began as a wedding proposal

Solomon Lew proposed to his partner Roza Prappas to the disputed 10-room villa in April 2017. Prior to the wedding proposal, the villa was onced used as a venue for accommodation of Lew and his friends including Kim Kardashian.

The Australian tycoon was so fascinated by the villa that he offered to buy the property from Daniel Meury, a Swiss international who is managing the resort. Lew sent a US$100,000 worth of chocolates to Meury’s family as a present and he misunderstood it as a sign of agreement for the deal. 

The legitimate owners

Too bad for Lew as the villa wasn’t owned by Meury and he has no authority to sell the property. The true owners of the resort were Kai Nargolwala and his wife who are both citizens of Singapore. The Nargolwalas posted in 2014 that it is available for rent and purchase.  

Unlike Lew, Larpin was aware of the sale and went to a real estate agent before negotiating with the owners. The Nargolwalas received a threat from someone who wanted to buy the property but Larpin bought the property officially in November 2017.

Legal notice and lawsuits

Upon learning of the purchase, Lew filed a lawsuit to the Singapore High Court against the Nargolwalas, claiming that he had a deal with them. 

However, in February 2020, the judge rejected Lew’s claims as the supposed binding oral contract with Meury was invalid and he had no authority to sell the property representing the owners. The court ordered Lew to pay for the damages to the owners and to Larpin. 

However, while the Lew case was still running, Larpin also filed a lawsuit against the Nargolwalas for breach of contract. He claimed that the owners had a secret deal with Lew while he was still purchasing the property. Although, they did give him an option to abort or postpone the transaction prior to the transfer. 

The court sided with the Nargolwalas, stating that they have not breached the contract and they are not aware of the claims by Lew of his agreement with Meury. 

The important lessons

The lessons for this incident comes in two parts, first is that if you are a real estate agent or a seller and you are speaking with several interested buyers, you must be truthful with all of the informations about the negotiation because it can be used in the court if there is a dispute included especially if its a high-end property.

As for the buyer, always keep in mind that if you are interested in buying a property, always negotiate with the legitimate owner and make it official with a printed contract or deal. 

The bottom line

Buying a property nowadays is a complicated matter sometimes, especially if the property is in significant demand. Always, settle any ongoing dispute about a property before selling it to avoid messy legal battles like this.