TBX v TBY

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeJanice Chia
Judgment Date10 April 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 46
Citation[2015] SGFC 46
Hearing Date21 January 2015,18 February 2015,29 October 2014,03 September 2014
Docket NumberDivorce No. 2808 of 2013, Summons No. 35061 of 2013
Published date06 January 2016
Plaintiff CounselMr Campos Godwin Gilbert (M/s Godwin Campos LLC)
Defendant CounselMr Ahmad Nizam Bin Abbas (M/s Straits Law Practice LLC)
District Judge Janice Chia:
Introduction

The Defendant (wife) applied to set aside the Interim Judgment granted to the Plaintiff (husband) on 28 October 2013. At the conclusion of the hearing, I dismissed the Defendant’s application with costs. The Defendant has appealed against my orders and I set out my reasons here.

Background

The Plaintiff commenced the present divorce proceedings on the ground of the Defendant’s unreasonable behaviour on 6 June 2013. The Defendant was personally served on 14 August 2013. The Defendant personally filed a Memorandum of Appearance on 16 August 2013 but failed to file a Defence. Interim Judgment was subsequently granted on 28 October 2013 on an uncontested basis on the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars (Amendment No. 1) (hereinafter referred to as “SOP”). The Defendant filed the present application on 22 November 2013. For completeness, the Defendant had filed a Personal Protection Order (“PPO”) complaint and a maintenance complaint against the Plaintiff. At the first hearing of this application, the Plaintiff’s counsel sought an adjournment pending the outcome of the PPO trial. This was granted. The decision on the PPO trial was delivered on the same day before the hearing of this application. The PPO was granted against the Plaintiff in favour of the Defendant. At the hearing before me, the Plaintiff’s counsel had informed me that his client intends to appeal the decision of the PPO trial. Nonetheless, I had directed that the hearing is to proceed.

The Defendant’s position

The Defendant claims that she had failed to file her Defence in time due to the following reasons: Multiplicity of concurrent proceedings There were a total of 3 ongoing Court proceedings involving the same parties at the material time, namely MSSxxx/2013, SSxxx/2013 and the present divorce matter. She was overwhelmed by the deadlines for all 3 actions. The deadlines for her to file reply affidavits for MSSxxx/2013 and SSxxx/2013 were on 2 September 2013. The deadline for her to file a defence to the divorce would expire on 5 September 2013. At the material time when she was served with the Writ of Divorce, she was represented by the Legal Aid Bureau (“Bureau”) for MSSxxx/2013 and SSxxx/2013, but she was not represented for the divorce proceedings. It was also at this time when the Bureau discharged themselves from acting for her in the maintenance and PPO proceedings. Therefore, she did not file the Defence in time. No access to the letterbox of the matrimonial home She had not access to the letterbox after the Plaintiff left the matrimonial home on 23 May 2013. Therefore, she had no notice of the Status Conference of 26 September 2013. She only managed to gain access to the letterbox on 27 October 2013, 1 day before the grant of Interim Judgment, when she engaged a locksmith to open the letterbox, at her father’s advice.

It is also the Defendant’s position that the Interim Judgment should be set aside for the following reasons: It is clear that the Defendant intended to defend the divorce as the Defendant had applied for a PPO against the Plaintiff based on the incident on 21 May 2013. This is the same incident which the Plaintiff had relied on in his SOP to...

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