• Vol. 31 No. 4, 535–536
  • 15 July 2002

Mental Disorders and Public Safety of the Community at Large—Does the Tarasoff Principle Apply in Singapore?



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The Tarasoff Principle is a legal ruling arising out of the Tarasoff case in California, in which 2 therapists were found by a court to be negligent for not warning an intended victim of a threat to her by their mentally disordered patient, and she was subsequently killed. The 2 therapists were deemed to have an obligation to protect an intended victim of a patient who presented a serious danger of violence. The question is whether this would apply under Singapore law, and whether an act of disclosure to protect a victim would be a breach of confidentiality and the doctor-patient relationship.

In the course of their work, psychiatrists treat patients who, because of their mental disorders, may pose a danger to themselves and/or to others. What is the duty of the psychiatrist treating this patient?

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