Re A (an infant)

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeLai Kew Chai J
Judgment Date28 March 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGHC 60
Citation[2002] SGHC 60
Defendant CounselYap Teong Liang (Salem Ibrahim & Partners)
Subject MatterDivorce and custody proceedings by father in France,Conflict of Laws,French court granting interim custody to mother with access to father,Custody proceedings by both in Singapore,Mother seeking stay of all proceedings in Singapore in favour of proceedings commenced by father in France,Natural forum,Whether Singapore or France the more suitable forum to decide custody of and access to child,Mother citizen of both Morocco and France,Child living with mother in London,Custody of child,Father French citizen
Docket NumberOriginating Summonses Nos 5091 (Registrar's Appeal No 720055 of 2001)
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselTan Teng Muan and Deanna Kwok (Mallal & Namazie)
Date28 March 2002

: This was an appeal by the father against the decision of the district judge in chambers. The district judge granted the mother`s application for a stay of all proceedings in Singapore in favour of the proceedings commenced by the father in the court in France in which he had petitioned for divorce and the ancillary reliefs of custody and access. Having considered the grounds of the mother`s application and all the circumstances, I agreed with the decision of the district judge and accordingly dismissed the appeal with costs. The father has filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal against my decision. I now set out the material circumstances and my reasons.

The main question before the district judge and this court in chambers was whether Singapore or France would be the more suitable forum to decide the questions of custody of and access to the daughter who was about seven years old when the matter was considered by the district judge.

It was not in dispute that both the Singapore court and the French court have jurisdiction to decide the questions of custody and access. It was also common ground that the forum with the most real and substantial connections with the adjudication of the issues of custody and access would be the more appropriate forum. As will be seen later, the father made the point that considerable evidence existed in Singapore and that though the French court would consider the evidence and make its own inquiries it would not be the practice in the French court to allow examination of witnesses. De Dampierre v De Dampierre [1988] AC 92[1987] 2 All ER 1 dealt with similar issues. In that case, matrimonial proceedings between the two French nationals were instituted both in England and France. In proceedings in England, the wife had certain juridical advantages in relation to the division of matrimonial property. Lord Goff said ([1988] AC 92 at 107-108; [1987] 2 All ER 1 at 10):

Under the principle of forum non conveniens, now applicable in England as well as in Scotland, the court may exercise its discretion under its inherent jurisdiction to grant a stay where `it is satisfied that there is some other tribunal, having competent jurisdiction, in which the case may be tried more suitably for the interests of the parties and for the ends of justice`: see Sim v Robinow (Unreported) , 668, per Lord Kinnear. The effect is that the court in this country looks first to see what factors there are which connect the case with another forum. If, on the basis of that inquiry, the court concludes that there is another available forum which, prima facie, is clearly more appropriate for the trial of the action, it will ordinarily grant a stay, unless there are circumstances by reason of which justice requires that a stay should nevertheless not be granted: see Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd, The Spiliada [1987] AC 460[1986] 3 All ER 843[1986] 3 WLR 972, 984-987. The same principle is applicable whether or not there are other relevant proceedings already pending in the alternative forum: see The Abidin Daver [1984] AC 398[1984] 1 All ER 470, 476, per Lord Diplock. However, the existence of such proceedings may, depending on the circumstances, be relevant to the inquiry. Sometimes they may be of no relevance at all, for example, if one party has commenced the proceedings for the purpose of demonstrating the existence of a competing jurisdiction, or the proceedings have not passed beyond the stage of the initiating process. But if, for example, genuine proceedings have been started and have not merely been started but have developed to the stage where they have had some impact upon the dispute between the parties, especially if such impact is likely to have a continuing effect, then this may be a relevant factor to be taken into account when considering whether the foreign jurisdiction provides the
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6 cases
  • TDX v TDY
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 June 2015
    ...to decide on the issues concerning the welfare of the child. Support for this view can be found in the decision of Re A (an infant) [2002] 1 SLR(R) 570 (“Re A”), in which Lai Kew Chai J referred to the decision of the House of Lords in De Dampierre v De Dampierre [1988] AC 92 (“De Dampierre......
  • D v Kong Sim Guan
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2003
    ...after the daughter left Singapore. She was no longer within the jurisdiction of the police. The judgment is reported in Re A (an infant) [2002] 2 SLR 137. 46 In any event, the question whether D did or did not sexually abuse the child was not an issue in these proceedings and I do not have ......
  • TDX v TDY
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 June 2015
    ...to decide on the issues concerning the welfare of the child. Support for this view can be found in the decision of Re A (an infant) [2002] 1 SLR(R) 570 (“Re A”), in which Lai Kew Chai J referred to the decision of the House of Lords in De Dampierre v De Dampierre [1988] AC 92 (“De Dampierre......
  • D v Kong Sim Guan
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2003
    ...after the daughter left Singapore. She was no longer within the jurisdiction of the police. The judgment is reported in Re A (an infant) [2002] 2 SLR 137. 46 In any event, the question whether D did or did not sexually abuse the child was not an issue in these proceedings and I do not have ......
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