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News Reports

When asking for more doesn’t help

Over the past few days, the court has come down hard on those who asked for more. Here’s a sample:

The house that the neighbour built

The skinny: So a couple went to a neighbour and said: Will you re-build my house just like the way you built yours?

Or was it vice-versa?

The neighbour went to the couple and said: Would you let me re-build your house in the way that I did mine?.

In any case, a two-page contract was signed over a budget of $350,000. Then the builder sued the couple for $89,000 because he claimed they were asking for improvements that weren’t originally planned for. The couple counter-sued for almost $200,000.

The fat: The couple had bullied the builder, said the judge, into making improvements and were in fact “flim-flamming’’ him and “squeezing him for more’’. The couple got $25,000 but the builder got $35,000 and $12,000 for legal costs on top expenses he incurred in the suit. The couple has appealed.

The moral of the story: People in glass houses should not throw stones.

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What is a “constructive dismissal’’?

The skinny: It’s about your boss making your life so hard at work that you’ve got no choice but to quit. That’s what an ex-employee of Robinson’s said he was fired terminated because he’s gay. He got four months of wages, although he was entitled to two. He went to the court for more.


The fat: It depends on the employment contract. Robinson’s can terminate staffers so long as they give out two months pay as compensation. In this case, the man got four which meant that his claim was “doomed to fail’’, said the judge. In any case, he couldn’t link the “stigma’’ he supposedly suffered as a homosexual with a breach of employment contract. Plus, if his case succeeded, it would open the door for others to claim more from their employment contracts than what was stipulated by alleging breach of trust and confidence, the judge. The odd thing is, the story that ST carried on Wednesday didn’t say why the man’s contract was terminated. Surely, that would be relevant too? The man is appealing.

The moral of the story: Your employment contract is the most important piece of paper related to your work.

I spy…my cheating husband

The skinny: How much would a spurned wife pay for a private eye to keep tabs on her philandering husband? One dentist paid $55,000 to get evidence for her divorce from her chief investment officer-husband. She claimed that the 213 hours (over 26 days) of surveillance at $195 an hour cost $41,000. Plus she said she spent $13,600 for “forensic extraction’’ from his laptop and cellphone. He, however, produced a “source’’ which charged $400 per day or $6,000 for an “unlimited package until the evidence is found’’.

The fat: Evidence of his infidelity was produced within just three days of surveillance. Why the need for 26 days of spying, asked the judge. The wife got $10,000 for her pains. You ask yourself if the wife was just being extra careful and wanted fool-proof evidence. Or which private detective agency she went to…

The moral of the story: Sometimes, there is no need to over-do it.

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Thai teen’s court journey

The skinny: The teenager fell onto the tracks at Ang Mo Kio station and got run over by a train. She lost both her legs and wants SMRT and the Land Transport Authority to pay her $3.4m in damages. She said they failed to keep the station safe for commuters. She is now 17. The accident happened three years ago and a 12-day trial was held. She said she was pushed, and then revised this to losing her balance.

The fat: She lost her case. The judge said the station had enough safety measures and the chances of someone falling on the tracks was “miniscule’’. Even more miniscule are the chances of some falling just as a train was pulling in – like one per 119.9 million passenger trips. Also, CCTV footage showed that she was neither pushed nor did she lose her balance. She appeared to have fainted when she tumbled over. She hasn’t decided whether to appeal. What the news reports don’t say: Whether she had been compensated in any way during the three years.

The moral of the story: Just because you suffered harm doesn’t mean you have to blame someone for it. (And this is NOT because I don’t sympathise with the teen. I do. It was a terrible thing to happen. My best wishes to Ms Nitcharee Peneakchanasak.)  

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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