Judge: Woman Dismissed From Civil Service In 1998 Cannot Start Another Legal Action Without High Court’s Permission

Over the past 15 years, Madam Linda Lai Swee Lin has appeared before 10 High Court judges and had five hearings in the highest court of the land over one matter: Her dismissal from the Civil Service in 1998.

On Monday, Justice Woo Bih Li agreed with the Attorney-General (AG) that enough is enough, and invoked a provision against Mdm Lai, 59, as a “vexatious litigant”.

This means she needs to ask the High Court for permission to start another legal action related to her dismissal. Normally, a litigant just needs to file papers with the registry.

It is rare for the AG to invoke such a provision.

One previous case happened in 2007 when a property agent convicted of giving false evidence started at least half a dozen legal actions related to the case. In his judgment grounds released on Wednesday (Oct 21), Justice Woo said that it is “apparent that (she) is unwilling or unable to come to terms with any decision of the court that goes against her”.

Mdm Lai had, however, disputed this, saying she was pursuing the matter because her career was compromised and her reputation was tarnished when she was wrongly accused of being incompetent in her job, among other things.

The slew of court applications filed by Mdm Lai started in January 2000, slightly over a year after she was dismissed from her job as a senior officer at the Land Office under the Ministry of Law – the termination came after her one-year probation was retrospectively extended.

Since then, Mdm Lai, who has a Master’s in Law, took up legal action against various parties – including the Government, the AG , and the Public Service Commission – one after another, although the issues in question had been decided by the courts.

Citing Mdm Lai’s persistent and baseless attempts to re-litigate the matter through various court applications, Justice Woo wrote that she was doing so “in the hope that some court may subsequently rule in her favour”.

Vexatious litigation causes problems “because it diverts the court’s resources from dealing with meritorious disputes”, he added.

The judge also stressed that such orders balance the public interest in preventing abuses of the court process and a litigant’s right to pursue avenues of recourse he is statutorily entitled to.

Justice Woo said: “In my view, her legal battle has gone on for too long. It is in the interest of the court, society in general, the AG and Mdm Lai herself that I grant the AG’s application. It is my sincerest hope and desire that this order will help Mdm Lai move on with her life.”


Source: www.channelnewsasia.com

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