Chief Justice Menon announces new initiatives in the area of medical litigation

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (centre, seated) at the opening of the Legal Year 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - New measures will be introduced to avoid the practice of "defensive medicine" and higher insurance costs, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the opening of the Legal Year 2016 on Monday (Jan 11).

Three overlapping measures are being evaluated for adoption, he said. These are: Mediation as a primary step in resolving disputes; a shift to a more judge-led process from an adversarial model and allowing the judges to be helped by medical assessors.

A standing panel of medical assessors, comprising senior doctors nominated by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), will be established.

A medical litigation list of judges will be set up in the High Court and State Courts to handle these cases as well, with the Singapore Judicial College working with the SMC to provide training tor the judges and medical assessors.

The CJ said in his speech: "Medical care is of direct concern to all Singaporeans and we must act to avoid a situation where the practice of medicine comes to be adversely affected by the medical practitioner's consciousness of the risks of malpractice liability."

Justices Belinda Ang and Judith Prakash will also lead an initiative on how procedures can be refined.

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