SINGAPORE : The Hougang resident who brought the issue of the Hougang by—election to court will not have to pay legal costs, even though she lost her bid.
A High Court judge has ruled that no costs need to be paid by either party, given the "unusual circumstances" of the case.
The Attorney General had sought S$10,000 in costs from Madam Vellama Marie Muthu.
She was unsuccessful in her bid earlier this year to get the court to declare that the prime minister does not have "unfettered discretion" in deciding on whether and when to call by—elections.
The court said that while costs are generally awarded to the successful party, public interest considerations are relevant in this case.
It said the case raised questions "of general public importance", and this is seen in the extensive debates by Members of Parliament (MPs) in Parliament and the media.
Judge Philip Pillai also said Madam Vellama did not have a private interest in the question of filling vacant MP seats.
Assistant Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University, Jack Lee, said the court’s decision is significant.
He said: "It may encourage people to be more proactive in seeking the assistance of the court in clarifying points of law that have not yet been ruled on by the courts.
"This will certainly encourage civil society to consider suitable cases where the law needs to be clarified."
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