Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date26 May 2011
Date26 May 2011
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1252 of 2010

High Court

Philip Pillai J

Originating Summons No 1252 of 2010

Lim Mey Lee Susan
Plaintiff
and
Singapore Medical Council
Defendant

Lee Eng Beng SC, Tammy Low, Christine Huang and Elizabeth Wu (Rajah & Tann LLP) and Bernice Loo (Allen & Gledhill LLP) for the plaintiff

Alvin Yeo SC, Melanie Ho, Lim Wei Lee, Sugene Ang and Jolyn de Koza (Wong Partnership LLP) for the defendant

Chong Chin Chin and Sharon Lim for the Attorney-General's Chambers.

ACC v CIT [2010] 1 SLR 273 (refd)

Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corp [1948] 1 KB 223 (folld)

Chai Chwan v Singapore Medical Council [2009] SGHC 115 (refd)

Christine Woods v The General Medical Council [2002] EWHC 1484 (Admin) (refd)

Chuang Wei Ping, Re [1993] 3 SLR (R) 357; [1994] 1 SLR 176 (distd)

De Souza Lionel Jerome v AG [1992] 3 SLR (R) 552; [1993] 1 SLR 882 (refd)

Draper v British Optical Association [1938] 1 All ER 115 (refd)

Hannam v Bradford Corp [1970] 1 WLR 937 (distd)

Law Society of Singapore v Nathan Edmund [1998] 2 SLR (R) 905; [1998] 3 SLR 414 (refd)

Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2011] 4 SLR 147 (refd)

Lloyd v Mc Mahon [1987] AC 625 (refd)

London & Clydeside Estates Ltd v Aberdeen District Council [1980] 1 WLR 182 (refd)

Low Cze Hong v Singapore Medical Council [2008] 3 SLR (R) 612; [2008] 3 SLR 612 (refd)

Metropolitan Properties Co (FGC) Ltd v Lannon [1969] 1 QB 577 (refd)

R v Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, ex parte Hook [1976] 1 WLR 1052 (distd)

R v General Medical Council, ex parte Toth [2000] 1 WLR 2209 (refd)

R v West Midlands and North West Mental Health Review Tribunal [2004] EWCA Civ 311 (refd)

Registrar of Vehicles v Komoco Motors Pte Ltd [2008] 3 SLR (R) 340; [2008] 3 SLR 340 (refd)

Shankar Alan s/o Anant Kulkarni, Re [2007] 1 SLR (R) 85; [2007] 1 SLR 85 (folld)

Tan Tiang Hin Jerry v Singapore Medical Council [2000] 1 SLR (R) 553; [2000] 2 SLR 274 (folld)

Wee Harry Lee v Law Society of Singapore [1983-1984] SLR (R) 768; [1984-1985] SLR 41 (refd)

Yong Vui Kong v AG [2011] 2 SLR 1189 (refd)

Interpretation Act (Cap 1, 2002 Rev Ed) ss 16 (1) (c) , 33

Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) ss 5 (f) , 41 (3) , 42 (5) (consd) ;ss 4, 5, 9, 9 (1) , 12, 12 (5) , 39 (3) , 40 (11) , 41, 42 (1) (a) , 45, 45 (2) , 46 (7) , 46 (16) , 70

Medical Registration (Amendment) Act 2010 (Act 1 of 2010) s 41 (3)

Medical Registration (Amendment) Act (Commencement) (No 2) Notification 2010 (S 732/2010)

Medical Registration Regulations 2010 (S 733/2010) regs 67, 71, 71 (c)

Medical Registration Regulations (Cap 174, Rg 1, 2000 Rev Ed) reg 42

Medical Registration (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (S 528/2010)

Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act (Cap 248, 1999 Rev Ed) s 12

Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2006 Rev Ed) O 53 r 3

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Ambit—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Medical Council arguing that decision not susceptible to judicial review because Medical Council did not have any discretion—Whether administrative decision susceptible to judicial review even if there was no exercising of discretion

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Doctor alleging referring complaint to new disciplinary committee unfair due to delays in hearing and investigating complaint—Doctor arguing defence known to Prosecution—Doctor arguing that would have to bear costs of resumed disciplinary committee hearing—Whether prohibiting order should be granted due to unfairness prejudice and oppression

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Illegality—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Medical Council appointing disciplinary committee pursuant to e-mail—Whether Medical Council empowered to make decisions pursuant to e-mails—Section 12 (5) Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Illegality—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Medical Council having vacancies in membership at time of making of decision to appoint disciplinary committee—Whether Medical Council empowered to make decisions notwithstanding vacancies in membership—Section 33 Interpretation Act (Cap 1, 2002 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Illegality—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Whether Medical Council empowered to directly appoint new disciplinary committee—Sections 41 (3) and 42 (5) Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Illegality—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Whether statutory requirement to immediately appoint disciplinary committee after complaints committee order was directory or mandatory—Section 41 (3) Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Irrationality—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Doctor alleging that no rule regulating quantum of fees that doctor might charge patient—Whether Medical Council decision to refer complaint to new disciplinary committee was Wednesbury irrational

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Subsidiary legislation governing disciplinary proceedings amended—Doctor alleging that amendment regulations contrary to natural justice—Attorney-General's counsel conceding that amendment regulations not applicable to doctor—Doctor alleging that amendment regulations targeted at her—Whether application for declaration was hypothetical—Whether amendment regulations were targeted at doctor—Regulation 42 Medical Registration Regulations (Cap 174, Rg 1, 2000 Rev Ed) as amended by Medical Registration (Amendment) Regulations (S 528/2010) —Section 16 (1) (c) Interpretation Act (Cap 1, 2002 Rev Ed) —Regulation 71 (c) Medical Registration Regulations 2010 (S 733/2010)

Administrative Law—Natural justice—Fair hearing—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Director of Medical Services having multiple roles—First disciplinary committee members member of Medical Council—Expert witness in first disciplinary committee hearings member of Medical Council—First disciplinary committee members including public sector doctors—Medical Council not inquiring into recusal before appointing new disciplinary committee—Medical Council in-house counsel present in private hearing room of first disciplinary committee—Medical Council in-house counsel making remarks to Medical Council member—Medical Council e-mail to revoke first disciplinary committee appointment brief and characterising recusal as procedural—Whether there was a reasonable apprehension of bias

Administrative Law—Natural justice—Fair hearing—Disciplinary committee recusing itself—Medical Council revoking appointment of disciplinary committee—Medical Council appointing new disciplinary committee to hear and investigate same complaint—Doctor inferring actual bias from totality of circumstances—Whether Medical Council decision to appoint disciplinary committee tainted with actual bias

An official of the Ministry of Health, Singapore (‘MOHS’) filed a complaint (‘the Complaint’) against the Applicant, a medical doctor, with the Singapore Medical Council (‘SMC’) . A complaints committee (‘the Complaints Committee’) reviewed the Complaint and ordered that a formal inquiry should be held by a disciplinary committee (‘the 1 st DC’) . The 1 st DC commenced its hearings. On 29 July 2007, the 1 st DC had a hearing on the Applicant's submission of no case to answer. It appeared from the transcript of that hearing that the Applicant's counsel had applied to the 1 st DC for it to recuse itself. After some discussion, the 1 st DC decided to recuse itself.

On 3 September 2010, an official from the SMC sent an e-mail to all SMC members (‘the 3 September 2010 E-mail’) . The 3 September 2010 E-mail explained that the 1 st DC had recused itself and that it was necessary for the SMC to revoke the appointment of the 1 st DC and appoint a new disciplinary committee (‘the 2 nd DC’) . The 3 September 2010 E-mail concluded that the SMC members would be taken as having no objections if they were not heard from by 7 September 2010. No objections were raised by the due date and the SMC thus decided on 7 September 2010 to revoke the appointment of the 1 st DC.

On 13 September 2010, the SMC sent another e-mail to all SMC members (‘the 13 September 2010 E-mail’) on the proposed composition of the 2 nd DC. The 13 September 2010 E-mail provided the composition of the 2 nd DC and concluded that the SMC members would be assumed to have no objections if they were not heard from by 14 September 2010. No objections were raised by the due date and the SMC thus appointed the 2 nd DC on 14 September 2010.

The Applicant then applied to Court for the following judicial review remedies:

  1. (i)...

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