I’m asking for a “Be Kind To Lawyers” month in April.
April sees the introduction of the new Rules of Court. These are the procedural rules applicable to all litigants.
The main users of the Rules of Court are Singapore advocates. All of us will have to grapple with the wide variety of amendments. Almost everything is new. What we have learnt, in school and in practice, over the past decades, must be put aside.
From April, we are all newbies.
We will have to re-learn how to commence proceedings, how to effect service, how to make applications, how to conduct discovery, and how to rethink litigation strategy from head to toe.
This is what I suggest, to all my fellow advocates:
(1) Learn the new rules. Attend as many seminars and discussions as possible.
(2) Ask questions. Reach out to fellow practitioners whenever you have doubts about the procedure.
(3) Be kind to fellow lawyers.
That last point is my main point.
We are going to stumble. We will make mistakes. We will misunderstand or overlook steps.
This is because we are human beings, and we are learning something complex and important, while carrying out our business and serving clients.
But even in combat, we can conduct ourselves with honour, grace and chivalry. That’s what being a lawyer is all about.
It is going to be a difficult few months.
So please, I ask all members, be kind to one another. Extend the utmost professional courtesy and understanding to one another if lapses or errors occur.
Unless it results in irreparable prejudice to your client, please do your best to grant some indulgence to fellow members of the Bar. If you wish, you are entitled to ask for reciprocity. That way, your client will be given a benefit.
If an opponent seeks an extension, you may say “We grant an extension on the condition that a similar extension will be granted to our client in future, if so desired.”
I know that we operate within an adversarial system. But even in combat, we can conduct ourselves with honour, grace and chivalry. That’s what being a lawyer is all about. We represent the highest ideals of society, and we should continue to act accordingly.