Image Alt

The Singapore Law Gazette

Modern Advocacy – More Perspectives from Singapore

This informative and instructive book, rich in lessons, tips and history, is more of a supplement, as opposed to a sequel, to the 2008 publication Modern Advocacy – Perspectives from Singapore. Both books are highly recommended by me and are a must-have on the desk of any and all advocates. Where the 2008 publication seeks to guide an advocate from pleadings to appeals, this book deals in 14 chapters with topics not covered in the earlier publication, namely specialist topics in civil and criminal proceedings, specialist fora and tribunals, and lessons from senior judges.

I have the pleasure of either knowing as a friend, appearing before as counsel, opposing counsel, instructed, or known to me by their reputation the 19 distinguished and generous authors. Generous because these authors not only took time off their busy practice to write but to share their wealth of specialist knowledge and experience so that others can benefit from them. I chose six chapters as examples of the wealth of knowledge and wisdom contained amongst the 412 pages of writing in this book. The younger Malaysian advocates may not know this, the procedural rules and substantive law of both jurisdictions are very similar. Three of Singapore’s Chief Justices were Malaysians.

The first chapter being a collection of 14 lessons from former Chief Justice of Singapore Chan Sek Keong and former member of the Malayan Bar is not only useful to the advocate but also to one with interest in the colourful history of the Bar. In particular, for Lesson 1, Chan Sek Keong recalled how he called the bluff of senior lawyer the late Lorrain Osman who tried to bluff Chan Sek Keong into forgoing costs in return for Lorrain not appealing, which Chan Sek Keong did not agree to thereby calling his bluff, with the final outcome that Lorrain did not appeal. I am sure a few senior advocates would have wished Chan Sek Keong did not share such trade secrets but such is the generosity and humility of the man.

Lee Eng Beng’s chapter on judgment without trial is useful with a table of the four modes of obtaining judgment of Order 14, Order 18, and the two preliminary determinations and judgment on admission, with summary of conditions to be satisfied, nature of issues that can be resolved and other considerations. What I have not tried before is the “double-barrelled” application for summary judgment and preliminary determination, and Eng Beng provides the considerations for each mode.

Advocates do not spend enough time thinking of costs advocacy, its principle and quantum. Jimmy Yim has helpfully written all we need to consider on this least favourite part of advocacy. He has listed out exhaustively the exceptions to the general rule that costs follow the event, alternatives to the fixed costs order, a checklist of pointers for costs advocacy, and a compelling case for deploying offers to settle which is governed by our equivalent Order 22B, which is underutilised in Malaysia.

Judicial Commissioner Ang Cheng Hock’s chapter whilst entitled “New Developments in Ethics and Etiquette” is a timely reminder of what is required and how to “stay on the right side of the path in the long struggle to become a respected and experienced advocate”. The temptation to be a quick rich advocate whilst attractive will inevitably lead to doom. There is reference to a decision of Justice Judith Prakash on the duty of counsel to ensure all authorities cited represent the current state of the law as at the date of citation, which coincidentally was also a lamentation of our Justice Nallini Pathmanathan in one of her decisions. The passages on witness coaching and drafting of witness statement are very relevant to our practice, and often overlooked.

George Lim provides a clear roadmap for effective mediation advocacy helping the advocate navigate “through each stage of the process from setting up and preparing for mediation, making pre-meditation arrangements, attending mediation and managing post-mediation matters.” The nuggets I learnt from George is that the mediation process is more than just about monetary gain, it’s an extensive search for the underlying interest of the disputant to assist in settlement and that the audience in the mediation process is not only the mediator, but also the opposing side.

It is heartening to read Cavinder Bull’s chapter on advocacy in judicial review and administrative proceedings to find that there is a growing body of public law cases in Singapore. Cavinder shares useful tips on the importance of procedural issues, knowing the standard of review and how to submit on the three usual grounds of challenge in judicial review.

Chow Kok Fong’s chapter on construction advocacy gives a good overview of a heavy subject with sufficient detailed useful guidance on how to prepare a Scott Schedule, prepare for witness conferencing (more popularly known as “hot tubbing”), and handle statutory adjudication.

This wonderful book together with the 2008 publication, both serve as an invaluable guide for each advocate’s journey as “unsung heroes in developing the law”, whilst being a “double-barrelled” weaponry for the advocate to use in the adversarial battle of litigation and collaborative problem-solving of mediation. I can’t wait to put into practice what I have read and learnt from this book.

Modern Advocacy – More Perspectives from Singapore is published by the Singapore Academy of Law.