In a collaboration with the Supreme Court, SMU Law students (under SMU Lexicon) are reporting on selected Court of Appeal judgments, highlighting the significant points, so as to foster greater public awareness of these cases and their implications. The summaries are available on the Supreme Court of Singapore Website, and are reproduced here on SMU Lexicon's website as well.
In Singapore Medical Council v Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang  SGHC 250, psychiatrist Dr Soo Shuenn Chiang received a call regarding a patient (“Complainant”) from someone he thought was the Complainant’s husband. The caller informed Dr Soo that the patient was suicidal and needed to be brought to the Institute of Mental Health for an urgent assessment of her suicide risk. Dr Soo then wrote a memorandum (“Memorandum”), with pertinent information about the Complainant’s medical history, to be used by the police and ambulance staff. Dr Soo left the Memorandum with his clinic staff, with instructions that it should be handed to the Husband. However, unknown to Dr Soo, it was the Complainant’s brother who collected the Memorandum. The Complainant lodged a complaint with the SMC, and Dr Soo was subsequently found guilty of professional misconduct under section 53(1)(d) of the Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2014 Rev Ed). On appeal, the High Court ("HC") set aside the conviction. In its ruling, the HC clarified when a doctor may disclose a patient's confidential medical information without the patient's consent, and also that doctors are under a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the information is not mishandled or released negligently to unauthorised persons.
In the case of BLV v Public Prosecutor  SGCA 62, the Singapore Court of Appeal ("CA") found that the offender, who had falsified his evidence and even procured a witness to do the same, had abused the process of the court. In light of such conduct, the CA imposed a significant "uplift" (or increase) on the offender's existing sentence. In doing so, the CA discussed the factors that the court would consider for imposing an uplift which was due to an offender's abuse of the court's process.
When a case goes on appeal, parties often try to adduce (or offer) new evidence as part of the appeal. Generally, where the new evidence concerns matters which occurred before the date of the decision in the court below, parties are allowed to offer such evidence only with leave (or permission) from the higher court. This is in the interests of finality in litigation, and also of the fair administration of justice (so as to incentivize parties to advance their entire case at trial, rather than deliberately leave over points solely for the purpose of appeals and thereby obtaining a “second bite at the cherry”).
In Yap Chen Hsiang Osborn v Public Prosecutor  SGCA 40, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) clarified that section 47(1) of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Cap 65A, 2000 Rev Ed) (“CDSA”), which essentially makes it an offense to launder proceeds which represents one’s (i.e. the offender’s) benefits from criminal conduct, applies only to primary offenders (someone who launders the benefits of his or her own criminal conduct) and not secondary offenders (someone who does not himself or herself commit the offence from which the proceeds were originally derived, but launders the proceeds of another person’s crime).
The Second Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) mandates the death penalty for drug trafficking of certain quantities of drugs. However, since the 2013 amendments, section 33B of the Act now allows the court to sentence a drug courier to life imprisonment instead: (i) when the Public Prosecutor has issued a “certificate of substantive assistance”, or (ii) when the courier suffers from an “abnormality of mind”. In Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor, the Court of Appeal addressed when the Public Prosecutor can be challenged in making his decision whether to issue a certificate of substantive assistance, and when an offender would be found to be suffering from an abnormality of mind.
Far East Square Pte Ltd v Yau Lee Construction (Singapore) Pte Ltd  SGCA 36 concerned the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30B, 2006 Rev Ed) (the “SOPA”), which facilitates cash flow in the building and construction industry by providing a quick and efficient means of adjudicating (i.e. providing a formal judgement on) payment disputes with “temporary finality”.