Seeking compensation, ex-maid Parti Lyani advised to go for mediation
Judge tells wrongly convicted former maid court proceedings will cost more than the $10,000 she can receive
A former domestic worker's attempt to seek compensation for her wrongful conviction took a twist yesterday when the judge suggested that the parties go for mediation instead.
Ms Parti Liyani is seeking compensation from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) after her conviction for theft was overturned on appeal by the High Court last month.
The 46-year-old Indonesian's lawyer, Mr Anil Balchandani, told the High Court she had suffered losses of about $71,000 as a result of the case.
This included $41,000 for loss of income in the four years after being accused of stealing from the family of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong.
About $29,000 was expenses for her accommodation at a shelter run by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, a migrant workers' support group.
However, the compensation Ms Parti can receive is capped at $10,000 under the Criminal Procedure Code if the court rules the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious.
As such, Justice Chan Seng Onn urged both parties to settle the issue through mediation instead, as the cost of court proceedings would likely outstrip the $10,000 compensation.
"It's not a very big amount, and if we go through with this, the cost of the hearing is going to be more than $10,000," Justic Chan said.
"The court fees are public-funded.... Similarly for (Mr Balchandani), it's also cost. Add all this up, two days of hearing and all of this is gone.
"Is this worth it? To me, it doesn't seem so. It's not proportionate at all."
Earlier in yesterday's proceedings, Mr Balchandani said Ms Parti had initially considered seeking compensation from the Liews but later changed her mind.
He told Justice Chan that "a lot has transpired" since the judge acquitted Ms Parti, in that Mr Liew had resigned from his positions at the Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong.
"My client's instructions were not to add more to his problems," said Mr Balchandani.
"We had some documents prepared but pulled back from sending them out."
He added that Ms Parti was however, seeking some compensation from the AGC - only a nominal sum to acknowledge that something had gone wrong in the process leading to her initial conviction.
"The appellant, who is now a free person, was wronged, and the AGC could be a little wiser the next time round," he said.
Mr Balchandani also said he had discussed the issue of compensation with the AGC, but negotiations had broken down.
Justice Chan then suggested the parties get a third-party mediator to assist with this, and provided the names of several past attorneys-general who would be familiar with the legal processes to allow for a smooth mediation.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal said he would inform the AGC of Justice Chan's guidance and seek further instructions.
The parties also agreed on a timeline for proceedings should mediation fail.
Reminding the parties that court proceedings require public funds, the judge told them to have the issue "quickly done without all this hassle".
He also noted that court preceedings would further burden Ms Parti, who is anxious to return home to Indonesia.
Mr Balchandani successfully applied for Ms Parti's attendance in court to be dispensed with.
Ms Parti worked for the Liew family for nine years but was terminated on Oct 28, 2016, after she expressed unhappiness at being made to do extra work.
After she returned to Indonesia, the Liews made a police report alleging that she had stolen from them.
Ms Parti was arrested and charged after she returned to Singapore on Dec 2 that year.
She was convicted in March last year in the State Court for stealing more than $34,000 worth of items from the Liews.
In overturning the convictions, Justice Chan said he found the trial judge's decision to be unsafe and also noted the Liews' improper motive in filing the police report.
Last Friday, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon granted leave for an investigation into Ms Parti's complaint of misconduct against two prosecutors in her trial.
A disciplinary tribunal will be convened to hear the case.
Law Minister K. Shanmugam is expected to make a ministerial statement when Parliament sits next week and address questions raised.