Noisy neighbours case: Couple who flout court order risk jail, says MinLaw

An Exclusion Order issued by the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal for Mr Daniel See’s neighbours to move out of their home.PHOTO: ST FILE

They may face ‘serious consequences’ for not moving out of home; can also be prosecuted

A noisy couple who did not comply with an Exclusion Order to move out of their home risk facing “serious consequences” including jail of up to three months, said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).

They could also be prosecuted by the state, said a State Courts spokesman.

The Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) has barred Madam Iwa and Mr Low Bok Siong from their home for a month, with effect from Monday. This was the first-ever Exclusion Order issued by the tribunal.

The couple were found guilty of breaching an earlier court order to stop creating a din and preventing their upstairs neighbour, Mr Daniel See, 29, from enjoying his home.

Mr See lives in a three-room Housing Board flat a floor above the couple. Their dispute started in 2017.

Mr Low’s son had told The Straits Times on Monday that the family did not intend to comply with the order because it was “full of typo (errors)” and served to him by the complainant, Mr See, and not the court.

In response, the State Courts spokesman said “the effective date of the exclusion was erroneously stated to be 6 January 2019 when it should have been 6 January 2020. An amended Exclusion Order was issued to the complainant on 6 January 2020 to correct this error”.

Yesterday, Mr See pasted this order on the couple’s front door.

Addressing the suggestion by Mr Low’s son that an order served by a complainant need not be complied with, the spokesman said: “This is not true. In civil proceedings, service of documents, including court orders, on a respondent/defendant will be carried out by the complainant/plaintiff.”

A MinLaw spokesman told ST: “An Exclusion Order of the CDRT is a court order. Contravention of a court order may result in contempt of court. For a court to punish the contravening party with contempt of court, the aggrieved party (Mr See) would first have to initiate contempt of court proceedings.”

Mr See said he will be filing a Magistrate’s Complaint against his neighbours for breaching the order.

The magistrate may then direct the police to investigate the matter.

“If the state thereafter decides to pursue the prosecution, the Attorney-General’s Chambers will conduct the prosecution,” said the State Courts spokesman.

Otherwise, Mr See may privately prosecute his neighbours. In either case, his neighbours, if convicted of contravening the Exclusion Order, can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed for up to three months or both.

“In the case of a continuing offence, the contravening party can be fined up to $1,000 for each day the offence continues after conviction, but not exceeding $10,000 in total,” said the MinLaw spokesman. A court “may further order a jail term if the contravening party defaults on payment of any fine imposed”.

A convicted party is still required to comply with the order.

The tribunal heard that for two years, Mr See had to put up with hammering sounds which he said came from the couple’s unit below his. The two parties were directed to install closed-circuit television cameras in their homes and the videos were compared in court.

Tribunal judge Diana Ho noted in her grounds of decision last year that the many corresponding videos submitted by the couple “which were meant to prove their ‘inno-cence’, were subsequently found to be unreliable or inaccurate”.

Yesterday, Mr Low’s son, who declined to be named, said: “I am looking into appealing the case and I am looking into complying with the order for now. I am now trying very hard to find my new house. You think a new house is easy to find? You think in one, two days, there is a rental house for the whole family?”

The State Courts said the Exclusion Order applies only to those named in the order. That means, the couple’s two grown children can continue to live in their flat.

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