The Singapore government passed a new law that could allow them to make an infinite claim on costs on individuals who choose to sue them.
Under the old clause, government proceedings claims were limited to two::
“In any such civil proceedings as are referred to in subsection (2) in which two legal officers appear as advocates and the court certifies for two counsel, costs shall be payable in respect of the services of both such legal officers.”
However for the new clause, the claims can be infinite:
“In any civil proceedings mentioned in subsection (2), costs are payable in respect of the services of more than two legal officers if the court so certifies.”
This is a new legislation to deter Singaporeans from suing the PAP government, due to the two high profile cases where the family of Dominique Lee sued the Singapore army for negligence, and where entrepreneur Dr Ting Choon Meng sued the Singapore army for copyrights infringement. Both cases were dismissed when contested in the Singapore court and the government was ruled the winner. The Singapore government has never lost a court case in its own court.
More notably in the death of Dominique Lee, it was ruled in the coroner’s report that his death is the direct result of SAF’s negligence. However, the High Court ruled that the family have no right to sue the government and in the end, the judge ruled that the family has to pay S$22,000 in legal fees to the Singapore government.
There is a climate of fear in Singapore when criticising the Singapore Court because of contempt of court laws and “criminal defamation” warranting a maximum 2 year jail. The Singapore government also protects itself from being criticised through the use of defamation lawsuits and anti-harassment laws.
Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah today (May 9) lost her composure and openly expressed her frustration at the two Opposition MPs who kept questioning her about the need to change the clause:
“The change is meant to bring the previous laws in line with Order 59, Rule 19 of the Rules of the Court and Rule 871 of the Family Justice Rules 2014.
I’ve said it before, once. I’ve said it before, twice. And I will now say it again a third time: It is not the intention of the Government to be using costs to intimidate anyone.”