'No reason' for motorist to intervene in mental capacity hearing: Judge
High Court rejects alleged wrongdoer's bid to submit evidence in mental capacity hearing of victim
The High Court has rejected a motorist's bid to be involved in a hearing on the mental capacity of the victim of an accident he had allegedly caused.
The issue centres on letting the motorist's insurers add evidence gathered by hired private investigators, who carried out surveillance, and raise issues on the extent of the victim's mental capacity.
Judicial Commissioner (JC) Tan Puay Boon said the advantages of saying "no" would outweigh the advantages of agreeing to let the raising of an issue of fact involved in what is termed a "joinder application".
"This is because the court's conclusion on the extent of X's capacity, would, by and large, turn on the medical evidence and, in particular, the doctors' opinions on the extent of X's capacity," JC Tan wrote in judgment grounds issued last week.
"It is therefore unclear that the court would be greatly assisted in most cases by the submissions" of the alleged wrongdoer, he added.
All names were redacted in the court judgment.
The case is based on a 2015 accident in Hougang.
Pedestrian P, then 23, suffered multiple injuries, including severe traumatic brain damage, after he was knocked down by a car driven by the defendant.
In 2016, P's mother and sister applied in the Family Courts, supported by medical reports, to be his deputies, under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), to manage his personal welfare matters.
Obtaining such approval would enable them to sue the motorist on his behalf for compensation.
Insurers for the motorist, represented by lawyers Anthony Wee and Manoj Belani, hired private investigators, who submitted two surveillance reports on P.
The reports said P could move about without help, could recall details of his polytechnic days and commute on his own by public transport.
A district judge in August last year allowed the insurers' bid to be a joinder at the hearing but only on the issue of P's mental capacity.
P's family, represented by lawyers Viviene Kaur Sandhu and Gabriel Choo, appealed to the High Court, arguing the decision was not in P's best interests.
JC Tan reversed the lower court's decision, holding there were no exceptional reasons to allow the motorist to intervene.
He found among other things, the joinder would lead to delay and increased expenses and probably allow the alleged wrongdoer access to confidential data about P.
JC Tan set the procedure for such cases in future, ruling the alleged wrongdoer should notify the court of evidence in his possession and provide details.
If the evidence is relevant, the court can act on it.
In P's case, a court-commissioned medical report in January found his cognitive disability was permanent and he lacked the mental capacity as defined by the MCA. In March, his family's application to act for him under the MCA was granted by a district judge.
In May, the motorist consented in the High Court to 100 per cent liability of the accident and a hearing to assess the sums payable to the family is due next year.