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Questions raised over alleged oral agreement in S$1m suit

SINGAPORE — One lawyer was not present for part of a mediation session where an oral agreement was allegedly made forbidding Ms Wendy Chan from publicly speaking of her stepmother Eleanor Tan and her family, and could not confirm the existence of such an agreement. Another lawyer testified that he had observed that Ms Chan, 49, was exhorted not to upset her stepmother, but said the open exchange had been parting words between lawyers and he was not at liberty to decide if it had a binding effect.

SINGAPORE — One lawyer was not present for part of a mediation session where an oral agreement was allegedly made forbidding Ms Wendy Chan from publicly speaking of her stepmother Eleanor Tan and her family, and could not confirm the existence of such an agreement. Another lawyer testified that he had observed that Ms Chan, 49, was exhorted not to upset her stepmother, but said the open exchange had been parting words between lawyers and he was not at liberty to decide if it had a binding effect.

These details emerged under questioning from defence lawyer Wendell Wong yesterday on the second day of a High Court civil hearing, as he sought to show that Ms Chan did not breach the alleged oral agreement when she commented about West Coast GRC Member of Parliament Foo Mee Har — the daughter-in-law of Madam Tan — on a 2012 Channel NewsAsia forum.

Lawyer Soo Lup Soon testified that he had not been present after the mediation session in September that year broke for lunch and that there were also instances he was not privy to as the lead solicitors of Mdm Tan, 79, and Ms Chan negotiated the terms among themselves. Mr Soo had been part of the legal team representing Mdm Tan at the mediation session. His absence, and the fact that there were discussions he did not hear, were not declared in his affidavit, prompting Mr Wong to suggest that Mr Soo had been “a little casual” in his sworn statement, to which Mr Soo disagreed.

Also testifying yesterday was lawyer Philip Ling, who previously represented Ms Chan. He told the court that while he agreed that the binding terms between the parties were encapsulated in the written agreement, the lawyers present at the mediation did make “general exhortations” to Ms Chan not to “cross the line” and upset her mother.

The exchange could have given Mdm Tan’s lawyers the impression that there was a side agreement, but it was clear to him that it was not along the lines of Ms Chan not being able to “go on to the computer and you can’t type anything”, he said.

Under cross-examination, Ms Chan defended her decision to comment on the forum, saying she had been defending Ms Foo when someone called her a bimbo and that her mention of Ms Foo’s employment at Standard Chartered was public knowledge.

The hearing is expected to end today. ASHLEY CHIA

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