18 November 2019

Protected Property

What cannot be seized for enforcement of judgments or when declared a bankrupt reflects our understanding of what is the protected sphere” of a person’s property and what is reasonably expected to be necessary for that person to make a living.

In Singapore, two key lists are found in the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 2007 Rev Ed) (“SCJA) and the Bankruptcy Act (Cap 20, 2009 Rev Ed) (“BA).

Section 13 of the SCJA deals with writs of execution, which are used when one party (the judgment creditor) wants to enforce a judgment debt against another party (the judgment debtor). Specifically, it deals with what are called writs of seizure and sale, which effectively entitle the Sheriff to seize the property of the debtor and then sell that property to gather funds for the judgment creditor. Section 13 provides that judgment debts can be enforced using such writs, as against all the property, movable or immovable [meaning, land], of whatever description, of a judgment debtor”, except for the protected list:

  1. the wearing apparel and bedding of the judgment debtor or his family, and the tools and implements of his trade, when the value of such apparel, bedding, tools and implements does not exceed $1,000;
  2. tools of artisans, and, where the judgment debtor is an agriculturist, his implements of husbandry and such animals and seed-grain or produce as may in the opinion of the court be necessary to enable him to earn his livelihood as such;
  3. the wages or salary of the judgment debtor;
  4. any pension, gratuity or allowance granted by the Government; and
  5. the share of the judgment debtor in a partnership, as to which the judgment creditor is entitled to proceed to obtain a charge under any provision of any written law relating to partnership.

Statutes to consider:

  • s 13 SCJA, in respect of property that cannot be enforced against by writ of seizure and sale
  • s 78(2) Bankruptcy Act, in respect of property that cannot be distributed among a bankrupt’s creditors
  • HDB Flat: s 51(6) Housing and Development Act

Law Law Reform Property Insolvency Civil Procedure

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