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VDZ v VEA [2020] SGCA 75

Outcome: Appeal dismissed


1 The Wife, in breach of a court order, had allowed her daughter access to court documents which the daughter had read and used as reference material for her social media posts. The Family Division of the High Court found that the Wife had been in contempt of court and sentenced her to a one-week imprisonment term. The Wife appealed.

Court’s Decision:

2 The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal but ordered a fine instead of a custodial sentence in the exercise of judicial mercy, in light of the Wife’s medical condition. The Court also made some observations on therapeutic justice.

3 The family justice system is one that is intended to aid the parties (and their children) to achieve as much healing in all its variegated aspects as is possible in order that they move forward as positively as possible with their lives. It is a non-adversarial system that is problem solving. It is a process which is such that the entire journey should allow the healing, restoring and recasting of a positive future. It should allow parties time to grieve over the loss of the marriage and be supported through this: at [75].

4 Therapeutic justice is not merely an ideal; it is a necessity. It is not merely theoretical but is intensely practical. It is axiomatic that relationships constitute the very pith and marrow of a family. When familial relationships break down, those relationships (between spouses and between each spouse and the children) are damaged. Such damage cannot be repaired by way of material recompense; healing needs to take place. It is both logical and commonsensical that healing cannot even begin to take place if the parties (in particular, the former spouses) are in an antagonistic relationship – still less when one or both parties wage war against each other: at [77].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

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