Singapore

Woman who sued PUB over manhole fall must pay $30k in legal costs

A woman who sued national water agency PUB for $5 million after she fell into a manhole and accepted a confidential settlement offer on the fourth day of trial will have to pay overall legal costs of $30,000 to the national water agency.

Yesterday, the High Court awarded costs of $40,000 to Madam Chan Hui Peng, 47, for legal work done from the day she filed the suit in 2018 to the day the offer to settle was made by PUB on Nov 10 this year.

But Judicial Commissioner Andre Maniam also awarded PUB costs of $70,000, comprising $48,000 for three days of trial and $22,000 for two amendments Madam Chan made to her claim.

The chartered accountant filed a suit against PUB on Oct 15, 2018, claiming damages for injuries, including a fractured ankle and post-traumatic stress disorder that she allegedly suffered as a result of the accident in Simon Road, near Kovan, on Dec 1, 2015.

On Oct 5 this year, her claim was amended to include her recent diagnosis of schizophrenia as one of the injuries.

PUB accepted 70 per cent of the liability for the accident but disputed the nature and extent of her injuries.

After the trial began on Nov 23, Madam Chan amended her case again and dropped the latter two alleged causes.

On the evening of Nov 26, after she was grilled on the stand for four days, she accepted PUB's offer to settle.

Yesterday, her lawyers - Mr L. Devadason and Mr Ivan Lee from LegalStandard - sought costs of $90,000 for work done up to the day the offer was made. PUB's lawyers - Mr K. Anparasan and Ms Grace Tan from WhiteFern - sought $95,000 for trial preparation and four days of trial. They also sought $31,000 for the amendments.

In giving his decision, the judicial commissioner noted that there were a number of "unsatisfactory" aspects in Madam Chan's case.

The judicial commissioner, however, said the fact remains that she was injured in an accident, for which PUB agreed to be 70 per cent liable and had made an offer to settle.

He moderated the costs Madam Chan should get because "she seemed to be trying to improve her case by going to a succession of doctors and asking them to change their reports".

COURT & CRIME