Liability for Negligently Inflected Psychiatric Illness
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About the project

At the request of the Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee, Associate Professor Tan Keng Feng of the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, examined whether any reform was needed to the law relating to liability in negligence for psychiatric illness unconnected with any physical injury.

His view, which the Committee accepted, was that the common law was at an early stage of development, when medical and legal knowledge were not sufficiently mature. Thus, legislative reform might interrupt the proper development of the law on an incremental basis, and might give rise to legislative recovery in certain areas of psychiatric illness that could prove to be more generous than envisaged. Thus, while there were aspects of the common law that were clearly controversial, they were not so problematic or unsatisfactory as to require urgent legislative change.

Project status: Completed

  • The discussion paper was published on 22 August 2000.
  • The paper was cited by the Court of Appeal in Ngiam Kong Seng v Lim Chiew Hock [2008] SGCA 23, [2008] 3 Singapore Law Reports (Reissue) [SLR(R)] 674 at paragraph 74.
  • The paper was also cited in the following works:
    • Gary Chan, “Duty of Care: Ordinary Duties, Special Scenarios and Parties” in Gary Chan Kok Yew & Lee Pey Woan, The Law of Torts in Singapore (Singapore: Academy Publishing, 2011), 105 at pages 143–144, paragraph 04.093, footnote 251; and in the 2nd edition (Singapore: Academy Publishing, 2016), 113 at page 162, paragraph 04.118, footnote 284.
    • Margaret Fordham, “Psychiatric Injury, Secondary Victims and the ‘Sudden Shock’ Requirement” [2014] Singapore Journal of Legal Studies [Sing J Legal Studies] 41 at pages 53–54, footnotes 74 and 75.
    • Margaret Fordham, “The Impact of NUS Law on the Development of Tort Law in Singapore” [2017] Sing J Legal Studies 299 at page 306, footnote 52.

Areas of law

Tort law


Discussion Paper on Liability for Negligently Inflicted Psychiatric Illness

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Last updated 11 June 2019