Friday, October 17, 2008

Hard Water: Part 5 - Finale

Hard Water: Part 5 - Finale
It better be the last of it...

Hard Water
Hard Water: Part 2
Hard Water: Part 3
Hard Water: Part 4

13 October 2008, 10:55am.

I held my mum closer as we shared an umbrella across the carpark from People’s Park Centre to the Subordinates Court, avoiding the puddles of water on the road and walking briskly as my right shoulder starts to feel the rain soaking through my shirt.

Past the magnetic-scans at the front door, I glanced through my summons letter again and we proceeded to the Crime Registry. I immediately spotted the little girl and her father sitting by the row of seats, and avoided eye contact; was expecting them anyways, and I do not wish to feel any sympathy for them at all. A professional killer does not look at his target in the eyes, that’s the concept I held.

I submitted my summon letter to the fat lady behind Counter 6, along with my identity card, without her asking; had been there too often to know the procedures already. We took our seat further from the girl and her father, and waited.

“You are hereby required to attend before the JUDGE/JUSTICE OF THE PEACE on 13th OCTOBER 2008 at 11:15AM in Chambers T at the Subordinates Courts of Singapore”

It wasn’t long before a police officer walks out, called my name and returning me my summons letter and identity card. Another cute looking girl walks out invites us in.

An interpreter…

The setting inside was more solemn unlike the previous mediation session. Cherry wood furnishings built up the interior of the office. A very heavy and dense wooden table and three cushion chairs separated us from the Judge. We weren’t allowed to take a seat and just stood there, interpreter between me and them, and a police officer right behind us. The Judge is a Chinese lady in her early 30s, bespectacled, and wearing a black suit piece.

Honestly, I was surprised it wasn’t a court trial, again. It turned out to be another mediation session, this time, by someone with more power. I had gone to today’s hearing prepared with a mindset that I will not engage in any mediation session again. It’s a waste of time. But the presence of the Judge seemingly suppressed down any of my arrogance.

I just stood awkwardly there, right in the middle of the room, facing the Judge, as she explains the situation and the objective to everyone in the room.

The atmosphere was tense. My palms turned sweaty. CCTV cameras surround the room. Every move and every word was recorded.

I was just beginning to warm up when my conversation with the Judge was interrupted by a phone call. She had to pick up. The session of adjourned for 5 minutes for she has to attend to an urgent case. In addition to this, I was also told to leave the office twice throughout the session so the Judge could speak to the girl in private.

I was made to feel I am the bad guy here bullying the little girl. It seems everyone has forgotten that I am the victim here. But hell, I can’t be bothered anymore.

They continued to deny the complaint, with absolutely no grounds over their statements.

I interrupted the conversation, “My complaint was made with reference to a police case. I have eye-witness and the officer re-enacted the scene. I have every reason to believe this eye-witness”. This is one sentence I have rehearsed over and over again.

Bottom line, I was faced with 2 options. Accept an out-of-court settlement, or continue to press charge and bring the matter till trial, for real, this time.

The Judge asked me, if I were to settle for a monetary compensation, how much am I expecting?

I pondered for a while. I didn’t really want the money. My objective was to get them to admit to the charge. Then my thoughts went to how much should I demand? It shouldn’t be too low that they can easily pay the sum and snigger it off, it should be sufficient to really put a slap in their face, and it should be an amount the Judge would deem reasonable enough.

“Two thousand” I told the Judge. “Then again, it’s not about the money anymore. They’ve rejected a monetary settlement in the first place and challenged me to take legal actions. My objective now is for their admission…” I made my stand clear.

Before I even made the magistrate complaint, I proposed a monetary settlement of just five-hundred bucks, hopefully sufficient for my repairs; I double the stakes at each session till I arrived at this amount.

The Interpreter does her job and the Judge noted the sum down. Seriously, the interpreter can go eat dirt; I can a better job and translation.

“If your intention is to arrive at their admission (to the charge), you will not be able to achieve it here; a trial have to take stand. I can only facilitate mediation right now” the Judge explains.

“What might my liabilities be if I do not want a monetary settlement and want to press charge?” I consulted her.

“Well, both parties will have to go engage your own lawyers and get them to submit a draft to the court. The trial might not take place so soon, perhaps a year later or so” she explains, adjusting her glasses, “It’s up to you, really”.

I sucked in a deep breath and let it all out, loud, enough for everyone to hear. Drag on for another year? I have had enough, I want to move on. It’s too much trouble to be engaging lawyers if there are no public prosecutors at my call.

“In that case, I‘m willing to settle for a monetary compensation” I relented.

“Will the sum be alright for the respondent?” the Judge asks the little girl’s father, and the interpreter explains.

A haggle ensued.

The father was only willing to pay $1,000. The ball was bounced back into my court.

“Disagreed” I focused on the Judge. I stated that I had managed to get a verbal quote that the repairs might reach close to a thousand, and the additions are for my time wasted.

“What was the extent of the damage to your car?” the Judge asked.

“Like a meteorite hitting earth… Huge crater” I gave my analogy to the smile of the Judge.

The father then suggested I had the car repaired and claim the amount from the receipt.

“Impossible…” I told the judge, “I sold the car”.

“You what?!” the Judge blurted out. “How could you sell it off when the case wasn’t settled?” she muttered under her breath.

The Judge went on as middle-person to get both parties to compromise at an amount. The father disputed back, that without the receipt, the amount of the damage cannot be accurately estimated.

Before the interpreter could even translate back, I retorted, “If you so much wanted receipts for the basis of compensation, would it be appropriate for me to seek psychologist consultation and further medical attention over the stress I went through, then claim the receipts against you?!”

I stunned the interpreter, she looked back at the Judge with the “should-I-translate-these?” look.

For a second there, I felt silly; I must have watched too much drama to even think of using this sentence. I stared at the Judge and almost thought she was going to laugh at me.

The policeman behind the room stepped forward. I realized his purpose in the room now. Suppression. I sounded murderous.

The Judge adjusted her spectacles and looked toward the father. She reminded him that if each party can compromise on the amount, the case can be settled, and everyone can go home happily, no more wasting of time, no more applying for leave.

$1,500 came out. The Judge turned back to me.

“Look, I am the victim here; I do not want to be placed in a position where I have to compromise any further…” I put my negotiation skills into good use.

I tried my best to garner the sympathy from the Judge, “It was my car that got hit. It went out of commission for a couple of days, can you image the hassle I went through? I have a job, with my car like that, I had to go through so much trouble getting around. Can you understand the kind of stress I have to go through while I worked?”

“And it caused such damage when it landed on the car. Can you imagine what would have happened if it hit me instead? I was standing right beside the car…” I reminded her of the graveness of the action.

The Judge sighed and proposed, “How about $1,800? It is a cut in the middle…”

Like a tennis world championship, my spectators turn back to the respondent.

I heard a faint “Okay” from the respondent side. I never bother to look at them. I stuck to my no-eyes-contact policy and just focused on the Judge.

She turned to me, but I just close my eyes gently and gave a solid “Disagreed.”

Again, the Judge persuaded the respondent; that since I insisted on my stand, and it is a mere $200 away from my proposed amount, she asks if the father can consider it and let the matter rest once and for all.

My insistence paid off.

The amount will be paid to me over 4 installments, on the first of every month, beginning November.

1 comment:

dias said...

WOW wat a drama sia. Finally the case is solve. Should get a lawyer get a compensation from 2k to 200k man. Can charge her for murder and etc.. i think can hit that amt if u get a lawyer XD. Anyway glad is over.