Shanmugam & Vivian Balakrishnan Seek to Serve Court Papers to Lee Hsien Yang via Facebook


Even if you are not familiar with the justice system, you probably know the term, “You’re being served.”

This phrase essentially means that someone has officially handed you a notice indicating that you are being sued, a process that usually occurs in person. However, in the case involving the ministers and Lee Hsien Yang, this might be somewhat complicated. Given that the case originated from a Facebook post, the legal proceedings might also commence on Facebook.

Kind of.

This is because ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan are navigating their defamation case against Mr. Lee Hsien Yang into the digital sphere.

Shanmugam & Vivian Balakrishnan Seek to Serve Court Papers to Lee Hsien Yang via Facebook

According to court documents seen by The Straits Times, the ministers have requested the court’s permission to serve the legal documents related to the case through Facebook Messenger.

This decision stems from the difficulties associated with serving the papers to Mr Lee in person, as he is currently residing in Britain.

The lawyers representing the ministers have stressed that using Facebook Messenger as a means for “substituted service” would likely be an effective way to ensure that Mr Lee receives the court papers, a strategy considered when personal delivery is unsuccessful.

The involved parties or their lawyers attended a Case Conference in the High Court on 5 September 2023, although it remains unclear whether Lee Hsien Yang was present.

Background of the Case

The origins of this case can be traced back to a Facebook post by Mr Lee Hsien Yang on 23 July 2023.

In this post, he claimed that the ministers had leased state-owned mansions from an agency controlled by one of them, and accused them of securing state-sponsored renovations.

Following this controversial post, the ministers’ lawyers sent a letter to Mr Lee, urging him to remove the contentious post and all associated comments.

They also demanded a public apology, to be prominently displayed on his Facebook page for a period of four weeks.

Additionally, each minister proposed a sum of $25,000 as damages, a fraction of what they could legally claim, with the intention of donating it to charity.

However, Mr. Lee suggested that if the ministers wanted to proceed with the lawsuit, they should do so in a British court, considering his residence in the country at that time.

Subsequently, the ministers initiated separate defamation suits in the High Court. They are seeking damages and an injunction to prevent Mr. Lee from spreading what they allege to be false and defamatory statements.

They contend that the comments made by Mr. Lee were not only “false and baseless,” but were also designed to “disparage and impugn” them, portraying them negatively in the public’s eye.


The High Court typically handles cases where the claim exceeds $250,000.

To know more about how the justice system works, watch this to the end: