Chin Swey Min a patient suing by his wife and next friend Lim Siew Lee v Nor Nizar Bin Mohamed

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChing Sann AR
Judgment Date13 February 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGHC 27
Citation[2004] SGHC 27
Published date18 February 2004
Plaintiff CounselDavid Ling Koon Hean (Ling Das and Partners)
Defendant CounselKaruppan Chettiar, Renuka Chettiar and Ganesh S Ramanathan (Karuppan Chettiar and Partners)

13 February 2004

Ching Sann, Assistant Registrar:

Undisputed facts

1 The plaintiff was 38 years of age at the date of the accident on 5 March 1999. A Malaysian, he was then working in Singapore on a work permit and was employed as a supervisor with a construction company. Interlocutory judgment was entered for the plaintiff at 90% liability against the defendant on 7 June 2002.

The plaintiff’s claim

2 The plaintiff claimed for damages under the following heads:

General damages

(i) Pain and suffering $ 284,000.00

(ii) Loss of future earnings $ 619,115.04

(iii) Future medical care $ 45,000.00

(iv) Future home care RM 202,149.60

Special damages

(v) Pre-trial loss of earnings $ 154,320.89

(vi) Medical expenses in Singapore $ 28,645.70

(vii) Medical expenses in Malaysia RM 5,591.75

(viii) Accommodation expenses $ 3,837.49

(ix) Transport and expenses $ 3,200.00


3 Having heard all the evidence and reviewed submissions from counsel for both parties, the following award is made:

General damages

Pain and suffering

4 The plaintiff’s claim of $284,000.00 for pain and suffering was divided into the following heads:

(a) Severe head injury $ 120,000.00

(b) Fractured right skull zygoma

and lateral wall of right orbit $ 25,000.00

(c) Fracture of right clavicle and scapula $ 22,000.00

(d) Deep neck lacerations and abrasions/ $ 20,000.00

scarring on face, chest, thigh, ankle, elbow

(e) Pulmonary (lung) contusion with right $ 15,000.00


(f) Fracture of right 1st, 2nd and 3rd ribs $ 7,000.00

(g) Laceration of liver $ 7,000.00

(h) Degloving injury to right forearm $ 10,000.00

(i) Stable fracture of cervical C6, C7 $ 18,000.00

spinous processes

(j) Brachial plexus injury $ 20,000.00

(k) Loss of amenities $ 20,000.00

5 On item (a), defence counsel submitted that an appropriate award of damages would be $35,000.00. I was of the view that this amount was far too low in light of the fact that these injuries were very serious and had resulted in the plaintiff’s general memory being assessed to be within the mental deficient range with erratic concentration, poor memory, poor new learning and personality changes. Indeed, the plaintiff had been declared by a court to be mentally unsound and his financial affairs were now being managed by his wife, Mdm Lim Siew Lee. Although defence counsel had cited several authorities in support of their submission on quantum for this item, I did not find these authorities to be helpful as, at their worst, the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs in defence counsel’s authorities did not come close to the degree of mental impairment suffered by the present plaintiff. For example, in Er Hung Boon v Law Shyan En (unreported), that plaintiff had suffered only from memory impairment, while in Pang Koi Fa v Lim Djoe Phing [1993] 3 SLR 317 that plaintiff had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting in nervous shock. By contrast, I found the authorities cited by plaintiff’s counsel, such as Peh Diana v Tan Miang Lee [1991] SLR 341 to be more helpful in this regard. However, that said, and even after taking into account inflation, I completely failed to see the basis for plaintiff’s counsel’s submission of $120,000.00 for item (a), let alone a further $20,000.00 under item (k). This was especially so given that I was of the view that there was a large, if not complete, overlap between these two items. In the premises, I awarded $70,000.00 for items (a) and (k).

6 Moving on to item (b), I was of the view that plaintiff’s counsel had not justified his claim of $25,000.00 for these injuries. The only authority cited by him for this item did not come close to the sum claimed. Defence counsel’s submission of $6,000.00 was far closer to the mark and I hence awarded $6,000.00 for item (b).

7 Defence counsel’s submission for item (c) was $9,600.00 for these injuries. I found the main reason for the disparity between the submissions made by respective counsel on this item stemmed from their taking the extreme ends of the range of awards made by the courts in relation to such injuries. Defence counsel had, in arriving at their submission, also applied a discount on the basis that the two injuries comprising this item overlapped. I disagreed that there was an overlap and, in the absence of any evidence showing that the injuries in question were particularly serious or particularly trivial, awarded $17,000.00 for item (c), being $10,000.00 for the clavicle fracture and $7,000.00 for the scapular fracture.

8 Turning to item (d), defence counsel’s submission for this item was $1,500.00. This was far too low in light of the widespread and severe scarring which the plaintiff had suffered, and which still remained, as shown by recent photographs submitted to the court at defence counsel’s request. At the same time, plaintiff’s counsel’s submission of $20,000.00 was unacceptably high. I was of the view that $8,000.00 was a suitable award for item (d).

9 For item (e), defence counsel submitted that it should be considered together with item (f), and that the total damages awarded for items (e) and (f) should be $7,000.00. While I agreed that the two items ought to be considered...

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9 cases
  • Poh Huat Heng Corp Pte Ltd and others v Hafizul Islam Kofil Uddin
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 25 June 2012
    ...for future medical expenses. In Chin Swey Min (a patient suing by his wife and next friend Lim Siew Lee) v Nor Nizar Bin Mohamed [2004] SGHC 27, where the plaintiff was 42 years of age at the time of the assessment of damages, a multiplier of 16 years was applied in respect of future medica......
  • Teo Ai Ling (by her next friend Chua Wee Bee) v Koh Chai Kwang
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 12 February 2010 support of his submission before me: Chin Swey Min (a patient suing by his wife and next friend Lim Siew Lee) v Nor Nizar bin Mohamed [2004] SGHC 27 where a sum of $10,000 was awarded for the fracture of the right clavicle. Chua Chuan Seng v Chua Eng Hwee (DC Suit No 2258 of 1997, unrepo......
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 June 2013
    ...Samuel v Shaw Linda Gillian [2010] 3 SLR 587 (refd) Chan Pui-ki v Leung On [1996] 2 HKLR 401 (refd) Chin Swey Min v Nor Nizar bin Mohamed [2004] SGHC 27 (refd) Cookson v Knowles [1979] AC 556 (refd) Dylan Simon v Manuel Paul Helmot [2012] UKPC 5 (refd) Ho Yiu v Lim Peng Seng [2004] 4 SLR (R......
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 June 2013
    ...there were 32 remaining years of life), Chin Swey Min a patient suing by his wife and next friend Lim Siew Lee v Nor Nizar Bin Mohamed [2004] SGHC 27 (multiplier of 16 when the plaintiff was 38 years old—life expectancy was not discussed), and Ang Leng Hock v Leo Ee An [2003] SGHC 240 befor......
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