Judge reserves judgment on costs in Hougang by-election case
A High Court judge has reserved judgment on whether a Hougang resident will have to bear legal costs for her bid to get a court declaration on the calling of by-elections.
The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had earlier sought costs against Madam Vellama Marie Muthu for her unsuccessful bid, but Justice Philip Pillai had asked both parties to submit more findings on whether there were precedents in other countries of exceptions to the rule of paying costs.
At a closed-door hearing on Tuesday morning, Madam Vellama's lawyer M Ravi said such examples could be found closer to home. He cited a former judgment by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong that public bodies must be protected from paying costs in carrying out functions of public interest.
Madam Vellama had been carrying out her public duty when she asked the court to clarify whether the Prime Minister has the discretion to decide whether and when to call by-elections, argued Mr Ravi, who is representing her pro bono. As a matter of "wide public interest", her bid therefore qualifies as an exception to the rule of paying costs, he said.