Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date28 June 2013
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 780 of 2012
Date28 June 2013

High Court

Andrew Phang Boon Leong JA

,

V K Rajah JA

and

Tan Lee Meng J

Originating Summons No 780 of 2012

Lim Mey Lee Susan
Plaintiff
and
Singapore Medical Council
Defendant

Lee Eng Beng SC, Paul Tan, Elizabeth Wu and Amy Seow (Rajah & Tann LLP) for the appellant

Alvin Yeo SC, Ho Pei Shien Melanie, Lim Wei Lee, Sim Mei Ling, Jolyn Francisca de Roza and Liu Xueyuan Alvis (Wong Partnership LLP) for the respondent.

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

Chua Chian Ya v Music & Movements (S) Pte Ltd [2010] 1 SLR 607 (refd)

ECInvestment Holding Pte Ltd v Ridout Residence Pte Ltd [2011] 2 SLR 232 (refd)

Gan Keng Seng Eric v Singapore Medical Council [2011] 1 SLR 745 (refd)

Han Ngiap Juan, Re [1993] 1 SLR (R) 135; [1993] 2 SLR 81 (refd)

Lau Liat Meng, Re [1992] 2 SLR (R) 186; [1992] 2 SLR 203 (refd)

Law Society of Singapore v Andre Ravindran Saravanapavan Arul [2011] 4 SLR 1184 (refd)

Law Society of Singapore v Ang Chin Peng [2013] 1 SLR 946 (refd)

Law Society of Singapore v Rasif David [2008] 2 SLR (R) 955; [2008] 2 SLR 955 (refd)

Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2011] 4 SLR 156 (refd)

Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2012] 1 SLR 701 (refd)

Low Chai Ling v Singapore Medical Council [2013] 1 SLR 83 (refd)

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

Narindar Singh Kang v Law Society of Singapore [2007] 4 SLR (R) 641; [2007] 4 SLR 641 (refd)

Sandar Aung v Parkway Hospitals Singapore Pte Ltd [2007] 2 SLR (R) 891; [2007] 2 SLR 891 (refd)

Singapore Medical Association - Guidelines on Fees, Re [2010] SGCCS 6 (refd)

Thomas Bruce Hart v Joseph O'Connor [1985] AC 1000 (refd)

Wellmix Organics (International) Pte Ltd v Lau Yu Man [2006] 2 SLR (R) 117; [2006] 2 SLR 117 (refd)

Wong Keng Leong Rayney v Law Society of Singapore [2006] 4 SLR (R) 934; [2006] 4 SLR 934, HC (refd)

Wong Keng Leong Rayney v Law Society of Singapore [2007] 4 SLR (R) 377; [2007] 4 SLR 377, CA (refd)

Advocates and Solicitors Ordinance 1934 (SS Ord No 32 of 1934)

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1990 Rev Ed)

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) s 24

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) s 113 (consd)

Legal Profession (Admission) Rules 2011 (S 244/2011) r 30, First Schedule

Legal Profession (Solicitors' Remuneration) Order 1974 (S 205/1974) Sixth Schedule (consd)

Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (Cap 161, R 1, 2010 Rev Ed) r 38 (consd)

Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) (as it stood before the Medical Registration (Amendment) Act 2010 (Act 1 of 2010) came into effect) ss 39 (7) , 41, 42, 45 (1) (d) , 45 (2) (a)

Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) (current) s 53 (2) (e) (consd)

Medical Registration (Amendment) Act 2010 (Act 1 of 2010) s 26

Medical Registration Regulations 2010 (S 733/2010) reg 16 (2) , Second Schedule

Professions—Medical profession and practice—Professional conduct—Disciplinary proceedings—Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) —Appeal of doctor against conviction by Disciplinary Committee of 94 charges of professional misconduct by overcharging—Whether doctors bound by ethical obligation to charge fair and reasonable fee for their services—Whether doctors bound by ethical obligation to limit fees when such obligation not published at material time—Whether sufficient evidence making out 94 charges of professional misconduct in the form of overcharging

Professions—Medical profession and practice—Professional conduct—Disciplinary proceedings—Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) —Appeal of doctor against conviction by Disciplinary Committee of 11 charges further alleging that doctor falsely represented in invoices that fees charged therein were fees invoiced by third-party doctors when she in fact added significant and undisclosed markup—Whether sufficient evidence making out 11 charges relating to false representations

Professions—Medical profession and practice—Professional conduct—Disciplinary proceedings—Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) —Sanction—Doctor suspended from practice for period of three years by Disciplinary Committee—Whether to interfere with sanction imposed by Disciplinary Committee

The appellant (‘the Appellant’), a registered medical practitioner, was convicted by a Disciplinary Committee (‘the DC’) appointed by the respondent (‘the Respondent’), the Singapore Medical Council, of 94 charges of professional misconduct under s 45 (1) (d) of the Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) (‘the Medical Registration Act’). The charges were brought following a complaint by the Ministry of Health of Brunei (‘MOHB’) to the Ministry of Health of Singapore (‘MOHS’) regarding the Appellant's fees which the MOHB found to be excessive. The DC convicted the Appellant of all 94 charges, which related, in the main, to fees of approximately $24 m which the Appellant invoiced for services which she (and other doctors) provided to Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit Pg Pemancha Pg Anak Mohd Alam (‘the Patient’), a member of the royal family of Brunei, over 110 treatment days from January to June 2007. In convicting the Appellant, the DC ordered that the Appellant be suspended from practice for a period of three years, pay a financial penalty of $10,000 and be censured in writing. It further ordered the Appellant to undertake, on her return to practice, not to charge her patients more than a fair and reasonable fee for her services. The DC also ordered the Appellant to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

The Appellant appealed against the DC's finding of guilt in respect of 83 charges (‘the Category I charges’) alleging that she had invoiced the Patient medical fees that were far in excess of and disproportionate to the services rendered by the Appellant and her medical team. The Appellant also appealed against the DC's finding of guilt in respect of a further 11 charges (‘the Category II charges’) alleging that she had invoiced the Patient medical fees that were far in excess of and disproportionate to the services rendered and that she had falsely represented that such fees had been invoiced by and/or would be payable to certain named doctors, when she knew or ought to have known that such a representation was not true in so far as she had added a significant and undisclosed markup to the actual fees charged by those doctors. The Appellant also appealed against the sanction imposed by the DC.

Held, dismissing the appeal:

(1) The most important and fundamental issue in the context of the present proceedings was whether there existed an ethical obligation on the part of all doctors who practised medicine in Singapore - over and above contractual and market forces (for example, any existing agreement on fees between the doctor concerned and his or her patient) - to charge a fair and reasonable fee for their services: at [26] and [28].

(2) This issue had to be considered in the context of the practice of medicine as a profession.The main characteristics of a profession included the special professional knowledge and ability of a professional as well as the commitment by the professional concerned to conduct himself or herself in the spirit of truth and honesty - a commitment which was necessarily ethical in nature: at [35].

(3) In the context of the medical profession, every doctor in Singapore took an oath in the form of the Singapore Medical Council Physician's Pledge upon being admitted as a fully registered medical practitioner. This pledge embodied, inter alia, a calling that sought to be helpful to others in an important way and went beyond mere money-making and the advancement of self-serving interests. The proposition that the spirit of public service and the existence of ethical obligations underpinned all professional practice applied with arguably greater force to medical practitioners, whom we collectively entrusted with our health, our well-being and our lives. In this respect, the medical profession occupied a unique societal position of both great privilege and commensurate responsibility: at [39] to [42].

(4) The relationship between a doctor and his or her patient was founded on trust and confidence which had to be safeguarded to the fullest extent possible, given the particular vulnerability of those who sought out medical services and the high stakes involved in many medical decisions. The especial vulnerability of patients and their dependence on health care professionals were heightened by the reality that information was (in the nature of things) distributed unequally in the medical setting, with a doctor invariably possessing far more information than his or her patient regarding the medical options and services available, where they might be found and how they should be priced. Put simply, given a doctor's specialised knowledge and training (and his or her corresponding duty to utilise these skills with conscience and dignity in the patient's best interests), there arose an ethical obligation on the part of a doctor not to take advantage of his or her patient (whether monetarily or otherwise), which obligation operated over and above contractual and market forces. In the circumstances, excessive overcharging would be a breach of this ethical obligation. There was therefore an objective ethical limit on medical fees in both private and public health care that operated outside contractual and market forces. The corollary of this would be that overcharging would constitute an abuse of the trust and confidence placed by a patient in his or her doctor, and this would (in turn) constitute professional misconduct: at [44] and [52].

(5) What constituted a fair and reasonable fee for services rendered would depend not only on the relevant facts, but also on the views of experts in the particular field...

To continue reading

Request your trial
17 cases
  • Deepak Sharma v Law Society of Singapore
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 May 2016
    ...the purpose of Rule 38”. I note that the judgment of the CA in that case is reported as Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2013] 3 SLR 900 and I also assume that Mr Winter QC was intending to refer to 1,025,009.37 in local and not British currency. Furthermore, the figure of “1,......
  • Lee, R v The General Medical Council
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 28 January 2016
    ...appeal. The High Court's judgment was published on 1 st July 2013. The High Court upheld the SDC's findings (see Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2013] SGHC 122 [2013] 3 SLR 900). The High Court of Singapore held that (i) the Claimant had charged grossly excessive fees to her ......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Chia Choon Yang
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2018
    ...Law Society of Singapore v Wee Wei Fen [1999] 3 SLR(R) 559; [2000] 1 SLR 234 (refd) Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2013] 3 SLR 900 (refd) Singapore Medical Council v Kwan Kah Yee [2015] 5 SLR 201 (refd) Public Trustee v By Products Traders Pte Ltd [2005] 3 SLR(R) 449; [2005]......
  • Re Michael Fordham QC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 5 November 2014
    ...Dr Lim in late 2007 and culminated only in June 2013 with the High Court’s decision in Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2013] 3 SLR 900 (“Susan Lim”), which upheld the decision of a Disciplinary Committee appointed by the SMC to convict Dr Lim on 94 charges of professional mis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Biomedical Law and Ethics
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2016, December 2016
    • 1 December 2016
    ...Rev 143 at 158–167, paras 6.47–6.73. 82 See para 6.26 above. 83 Singapore Medical Council v Wong Him Choon [2016] 4 SLR 1086 at [51]. 84 [2013] 3 SLR 900; see also Singapore Medical Council v Wong Him Choon [2016] 4 SLR 1086 at [51]. 85 Singapore Medical Council v Wong Him Choon [2016] 4 SL......
  • Biomedical Law and Ethics
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2017, December 2017
    • 1 December 2017
    ...Medical Council [2017] 5 SLR 356 at [46]–[67]. 82 [2005] 2 AC 176 at [28]. 83 [2017] 1 SLR 461 at [71]. 84 See para 6.39 above. 85 [2013] 3 SLR 900. 86 Ang Peng Tiam v Singapore Medical Council [2017] 5 SLR 356 at [69]. 87 See para 6.39 above. 88 Ang Peng Tiam v Singapore Medical Council [2......
  • Biomedical Law and Ethics
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2013, December 2013
    • 1 December 2013
    ...review saw perhaps one of the most significant decisions in professional discipline with Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council[2013] 3 SLR 900 (‘Susan Lim’). This was followed by Pang Ah San v Singapore Medical Council[2014] 1 SLR 1094 (‘Pang Ah San’). There, several aspects of the ......
  • Biomedical Law and Ethics
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2014, December 2014
    • 1 December 2014
    ...be specific in the formulation of charges and in the determination of guilt were raised in Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council[2013] 3 SLR 900. Although whether such allegations are made out will be obviously context-specific, the court's pronouncements of these principles in Lawr......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT