New Bill seeks to solve neighbourly disputes

Remember the Everitt Road wars? This was when dispute between neighbours took a turn for the ugly.

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(Everitt Road saw fierce battle between seven families against the opposite Chan family claiming they had been abusive, antagonistic, crude and inconsiderate to them.  All this dispute started from 1993 with a small quarrel over parking lots.)

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Some disputes have soured relationships so badly that neighbours seek ways to bring their quarrels to other venues – like media and the internet.

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Sometimes when you have a prick of a neighbour and can’t find ways to seek peace anymore, you need action. But not necessarily court-room action.

A new Bill tabled in Parliament yesterday is seeking to create a “Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal”.

Today there are community mediation efforts to try and bring things to a calm. But it is futile if disputing parties do not turn up.

When the Bill is passed, residents causing unreasonable disturbance to their neighbours may face a fine of up to S$10,000 or a jail term of up to three months.

Statistics by MCCY reveal no-show rates to be 60 per cent (that is about 900 cases), because today, attendance is not compulsory.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, the Bill is built on an underlying principle that no person should cause unreasonable interference with his neighbour’s enjoyment or use of his home.

During the tribunal case, a judge can order the offending neighbour to take certain actions, pay damages of up to S$20,000 or issue an apology. If the order is breached, the person may face a fine and a jail term.

But of course, we hope that people will be more patient with each other and that squabbles will not give rise to these measures.

 

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