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Court dismisses mother’s suit against stepdaughter for breaching gag order

The High Court has thrown out a suit brought by a mother against her stepdaughter for breaching a gag order.

SINGAPORE: The High Court on Monday (June 2) threw out a suit brought by a mother against her stepdaughter for breaching a gag order against talking publicly about the former’s family.

In dismissing Madam Eleanor Tan Kok Neo’s case against Ms Wendy Chan Mei Yoke, Judicial Commissioner Lee Kim Shin said Mdm Tan had not proven that there was any agreement preventing Ms Chan from doing so.

Mdm Tan, 79, had sued Ms Chan, 49, for breaching an alleged oral agreement not to speak publicly about her and their family, after her stepdaughter commented on West Coast Member of Parliament Foo Mee Har’s parliamentary question on public housing prices on a Channel NewsAsia forum in October 2012. Ms Foo is Mdm Tan’s daughter-in-law.

The dispute stemmed from an agreement made in 2011 when Ms Chan was given S$1 million and a further S$36,000 to purchase an apartment and cover interim rental expenses. Under the agreement, Ms Chan could not speak or write about Mdm Tan and her family in the newspapers, on the Internet or on social media, as Mdm Tan had wanted to live the rest of her life in peace and privacy.

During the three-day hearing, Ms Chan had pointed to a written agreement between Mdm Tan and her made during a mediation session in September 2012, which revised the gag order such that Ms Chan was only not allowed to say anything scandalous, untrue or defamatory about Mdm Tan and her family.

But Mdm Tan had contended that her “paramount concern” during the mediation session was for Ms Chan not to say anything at all about her family, and claimed that this had been made clear in the alleged oral agreement.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom after the judgment yesterday, Ms Chan said she felt “vindicated (and) extremely happy”.

“It’s like a burden has been lifted as this case has been going on for a year and a half,” she said. “I hope we can all just put this behind us.”

Mdm Tan was not in court.

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