Stewart Ashley James v Public Prosecutor

JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date16 September 1996
Neutral Citation[1996] SGHC 207
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 125 of 1996
Date16 September 1996
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselEdmond Pereira (Edmond Pereira & Partners)
Citation[1996] SGHC 207
Defendant CounselWong Keen Onn (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterOffences,Disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence,Discretion to limit disqualification to specific classes of vehicles -s 3 Motor Vehicles (Third Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189),Driving without valid insurance policy,Road Traffic

The appellant appealed against the sentence of disqualificationimposedby the district judge upon his conviction of an offence under the MotorVehicles (Third-Party Risks and Comp ensation) Act (Cap 189) (the Act). Idismissed that appeal and now give my reasons.

The relevant charge against the appellant read:

You, Ashley James Stewart are charged that on the 27th of May 1995 atabout 1.45 am along Cairnhill Road, Singapore, did permit one Anthony JohnRedman to use motor cycle no AX 9800 K when there was not in force in relationto the user of the said vehicle, such a policy of insurance in respect of thethird party risk as complies with the requirements of this Act, and you havethereby committed an offence under s 3(1) and punishable under section 3(2) ofthe same Act.

The trial judge imposed a $600 fine, with 1 week`simprisonment indefault, and 1 year`s disqualification from driving all classes ofvehicles.
The appellant was also fined on another charge of allowing a personwithout a licence to use his motorcycle. There was no appeal against thatsentence.

The appellant admitted to the prosecution`s statement ofthefacts.
This disclosed that on 27 May 1995 the appellant allowed one AnthonyJohn Redman, a friend of his, to ride his motorcycle. The insurance policy forthe motorcycle only covered the appellant.

The appeal

The appellant contended that he should not have been disqualifiedfromholding a licence in respect of all classes of vehicles.
He argued that thiswas unfair as it was more severe than Redman`s sentence - hisfriend was only disqualified from holding a class 2 driving licence. It wassaid that both the appellant and Redman were equally culpable in the offencescommitted. In fairness to the appellant, it had to be noted that he refrainedfrom riding his motorcycle at the time of the incident as he did not wish tobreak the law, having consumed alcohol.

Counsel for the appellant made reference to a number of decisions inwhich general disqualification was imposed.
These cases were distinguished asinvolving serious driving offences, reflecting poor attitude. It was said thatgeneral disqualification is justified only where the offender displays ablatant disregard for the law. In contrast, here the appellant had only failedto appreciate that his insurance policy did not cover Redman, and that was amistake committed after the consumption of alcohol. The appellant had alsoshown sufficient remorse for his act.

The respondent`scase

The prosecution argued that disqualification under s 3(2) ismandatory,citing PP v MohdIsa [1963] MLJ 135, and noted that the only exception to that iswherespecial reasons pertaining to the commission of the offence exist.
It wasfurther argued that a general disqualification was not manifestly excessivefor, unlike s 42(1) of the Road Traffic Act which also empowersdisqualification, there is no express proviso to s 3(2) allowing the court torestrict such disqualification to a particular class. In this context then, itwas submitted that general disqualification should be imposed as a norm inorder that it deters vehicle owners from using their vehicles in circumstancesendangering the user and other persons on the roads, and leaving them withoutany compensation should the user not be able to satisfy judgment. Thisconsideration was so important that it justified a deterrent sentence eventhough the appellant had pleaded guilty ( Sim Gek Yong vPP [1995] 1 SLR 537 cited).


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38 cases
  • Siti Hajar bte Abdullah v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 14 February 2006
    ...(R) 265; [2002] 2 SLR 73 (folld) Sriekaran s/o Thanka Samy v PP [1998] 3 SLR (R) 1; [1998] 3 SLR 402 (folld) Stewart Ashley James v PP [1996] 3 SLR (R) 106; [1996] 3 SLR 426 (folld) Whittall v Kirby [1947] 1 KB 194 (folld) Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189, 20......
  • Teo Rong Zhi Saimonn v PP
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    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 September 2013
    ...[1988] 2 SLR (R) 123; [1988] SLR 731 (folld) PP v Lee Hong Hwee [2004] 1 SLR (R) 39; [2004] 1 SLR 39 (folld) Stewart Ashley James v PP [1996] 3 SLR (R) 106; [1996] 3 SLR 426 (folld) Tan Tok Nam v Pan Global Insurance Sdn Bhd [2002] 3 MLJ 742 (refd) Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Comp......
  • Public Prosecutor v Rozilawaty binte Eddy Rosmanah
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 3 April 2020
    ...involved in accidents on the road. For that reason, contravening s 3(1) is a serious offence: Stewart Ashley James v Public Prosecutor [1996] 3 SLR(R) 106 at [17]. The gravity of the offence finds expression in the mandatory 12-month disqualification order and a possible custodial sentence ......
  • Tan Meng Lian and Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 30 July 2001
    ...upon conviction, disqualification will normally be ordered, unless "special reasons" are shown (Ashley James Stewart v Public Prosecutor [1996] 3 SLR 426). The duty to disqualify is mandatory but the courts are given a limited discretion which must be exercised judicially. If there are no s......
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