Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has chided the Attorney-General’s Chambers for arguments it presented against Li Shengwu, saying that there are now “inherent difficulties” in what has transpired in the case.
Speaking at the Apex Court hearing today, CJ Menon told the AGC’s Senior Counsel Francis Ng that his arguments have “abandoned the original arguments of the Attorney-General” for proceeding with the case.
Li, who is facing contempt of court charges, appealed to the Apex Court against an earlier decision by the High Court to allow the AGC to serve him papers when he was outside of Singapore.
Said CJ Menon:
“You’re now saying that the correct jurisdictional basis is Section 15, but that was not the basis on which you obtained your original leave. If you wanted to pursue a different line, it was incumbent upon you to come and ask permission.”
CJ Menon was referring to Section 15 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, which defines the criminal jurisdiction of the Singapore High Court.
The AGC’s lawyers had been instructed by the Court of Appeal to make legal submissions addressing a number of key questions, including:
-which laws allow Singapore courts to exercise jurisdiction over someone who has allegedly committed contempt of court, who has gone overseas
-whether a newly-enacted law that enables serving documents on a person who is overseas can be applied retroactively.
Li, a 33-year-old assistant professor of economics at Harvard University and the eldest son of Lee Hsien Yang, allegedly committed the offence of contempt of court on 15 July 2017.
Court papers were served on 17 October 2017 while he was in the United States.
The new contempt of court laws under the Administration of Justice Act came into effect on 1 October 2017 – 3 months after Li’s alleged offence.