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14 October 2004
Suit Nos. S1459/2001/F and S1460/2001/X
I refer to your letter dated 13 October 2004.
Let me relate to you how I have filed affidavits in the past. I would pay the fees for the Commissioner for Oaths at the Registry, sign the affidavit in the presence of the Commissioner, and then bring it back to the Registry to file it electronically where an additionally payment is made for handling fees and so on.
Each time I have done this, the Registry has accepted my documents and filed them accordingly regardless of whether I had filed my affidavits separately or together. You say that when one set of fees was paid, the affidavit had been filed in only one suit, namely the one regarding Mr Goh Chok Tongs (you have not explained why you chose Mr Gohs and not Mr Lees suit). Be that as it may, Mr Lees suit proceeded along with Mr Gohs.
When I attempted to file my affidavit yesterday, however, the clerk refused to accept payment for the Commissioner for Oaths but instead signaled another officer who then told me that the Registrar would have to check the format of my affidavit. Clearly, the staff had been primed as to my coming to file the affidavit and had been instructed on what to do. I am sure such instructions do not go out for all of your customers. Why this heightened attention and why this sudden change in procedure?
Could the Registry not do what it had done all along, that is, let me pay for one set of fees, file one affidavit for the two suits, and then enter the matter under one of the two suits? Why this sudden change?
Why was my affidavit taken to the Registrar? Couldnt the officers at the Registry have checked the format of my affidavit in front of me? I told the officers present that this was highly improper and insisted that my affidavit be handed back to me and that I be allowed to proceed with its filing.
I then indicated that if I were not attended to, I would leave. It was only then that the officers showed any urgency. After waiting a little longer and seeing no response, I walked out of the building.
The Duty Registrar then ran up to me outside the Registry. He said that if I wanted to pay only one set of fees, my affidavit would be entered for only one case. Given the heightened attention to my filing of this affidavit and the taking of my affidavit away from me, I suspected that something was amiss. I therefore sought the assurance that even though my affidavit was entered for one case that it would not affect the proceedings of the other. I explained that because I did not have a lawyer with me, I had to be extra cautious. The Duty Registrar did not give me the assurance but only repeated that if I paid one set of fees, only one case would be entered. Based on his response I said there was no need for further discussion.
I have several questions: One, why did the procedure change all of a sudden for this occasion when on previous occasions I had no problem filing my affidavits?
Two, why the heightened alert to my filing of my affidavit among the Registry staff?
Three, why was my affidavit taken away from me to the Registrar? Is this normal practice?
Four, does the Registrar normally check the format of affidavits?
These questions notwithstanding, I seek the Registrys assurance, again, that paying for one set of fees and having my affidavit entered for only one case would not affect the other case. If you can give me this assurance I would be happy to come down to the Registry again and make another attempt to file my affidavit.
Chee Soon Juan