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One dead and one injured after hit-and-run accident in JB - Can they pursue a claim in SG?

The story of how a 24-year-old Singaporean man had died in a local hospital after a hit-and-run accident in JB has been making Singapore news headlines in the recent week. Leaving aside the hospital controversy surrounding the man’s death, this incident has sparked off questions surrounding the legal recourses available to the deceased’s family in relation to his accident claim.

That begs the question: what happens when a Singapore-registered vehicle gets involved in a traffic accident out of Singapore?

It is often thought that a Singaporean who has involved himself in a traffic accident in Malaysia must necessarily commence a legal action in Malaysia, given that that is where the incident in question had taken place. However, such a perception is misguided. In the Singapore Court of Appeal case of Goh Suan Hee v Teo Cher Teck [2009] SGCA 52, the Court held that although the starting point for tortious claims is that the jurisdiction in which the tort had occurred would be the most suitable jurisdiction to try the matter, this is however not an inflexible rule and it is possible for some other law to apply.

In that case, all 5 witnesses with the exception of the appellant were based in Singapore. As such, the inconvenience of having the respondent and his witnesses testify in Malaysia during trial was a factor which went against the finding that Malaysia was the more appropriate forum to try the matter. The Court also noted that in the case of traffic accident claims, the Malaysian law on the tort of negligence is largely similar to Singapore Law. For these reasons, the Court of Appeal found that the appellant had failed to show that Malaysia is a clearly more appropriate forum and ultimately allowed the action to proceed in Singapore.

If you are a Singaporean and have been involved in an accident in Malaysia, please contact us here. As one of the top community law firms in Singapore specializing in personal injury claims, we are well-placed to advise you on your options. Should your case be more suitably handled by Malaysian lawyers, we may also refer you to one of our experienced Malaysian counterparts to assist you in your claim. Reported by: Radha Basu (Senior Correspondent)

For more details about the JB car crash: report by Channel News Asia
4 September 2017

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