$1m 'gag deal': Widow's suit dismissed

$1m 'gag deal': Widow's suit dismissed

SINGAPORE - The High Court on Monday dismissed the lawsuit brought by a widow against her stepdaughter over a $1 million "gag deal" barring the latter from discussing her family in public.

Madam Eleanor Tan Kok Neo, 79, claimed that Ms Wendy Chan Mei Yoke, 49, had broken an oral pact by making an online comment about Member of Parliament Foo Mee Har, who is Madam Tan's daughter-in-law.

On Monday, Judicial Commissioner Lee Kim Shin, who heard the case in March, found that Madam Tan had not proved the existence of an oral agreement.

Ms Chan and her brother were born out of wedlock after Madam Tan's husband, Dr Harold Chan, had an affair. They moved in with the family when Ms Chan was seven.

In September 2011, Madam Tan and Ms Chan signed a written agreement. In return for $1 million, Ms Chan was not to say or write anything about her stepmother's family.

After mediation in September 2012, they signed a second agreement replacing the first.

Instead of an absolute ban, Ms Chan was barred only from making "defamatory, scandalous or untrue" remarks.

A month later, Ms Chan posted a comment on a forum thread about Ms Foo's participation in a Parliament debate.

In her suit, Madam Tan claimed that Ms Chan had verbally agreed during mediation to honour her "paramount concern" that she was not to comment about the family at all.

Madam Tan sought to set aside the second written agreement and revert to the original one, claiming she was misled into agreeing to the new terms.

But the judicial commissioner found it "inherently incredible" that she was misled as she had lawyers during mediation.

"If the plaintiff had a paramount concern as alleged, one would expect her to reduce it in writing," he added.

After the verdict, Ms Chan, who was represented by Mr Wendell Wong, said she felt vindicated and relieved. "I feel sad that this episode had to happen. I still love my mother and I hope one day we can salvage our relationship.

This article was first published on June 4, 2014.
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