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The Singapore Law Gazette

Disciplinary Tribunal Reports

In the Matter of Looi Wan Hui, Advocate & Solicitor

The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (the Act) that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be ordered to pay a penalty of $8,000.

The proceedings against the Respondent arose out of a complaint lodged against him by a fellow Director of the Respondent’s former law practice. The Respondent was a Director of the said law practice until 31 August 2016 and was an associate of the law practice from 1 to 30 September 2016.

The Complainant alleged that the Respondent had:

  1. continued his unauthorised practice under the name and style of the law practice after 30 September 2016; and
  2. failed to produce his accounting records and supporting documents pertaining to his legal practice with the law practice.

The following charges were preferred against the Respondent at the onset of the proceedings:

1st Charge

“That you, Looi Wan Hui, have been:

  1. guilty of such misconduct unbefitting an Advocate and Solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession (under Section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)); and/or
  2. guilty of a breach of Rule 7(1) and 7(2) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (being a breach of your obligation as a legal practitioner to accord another legal practitioner due respect to the latter as a member of a noble and honourable profession, and to treat the latter with courtesy and fairness) pursuant to Section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

in that you had continued to practice under the name and style of M/s JLim Law Corporation without the necessary permissions to do so after 30 September 2016, causing M/s JLim Law Corporation and the Complainant to have to take up a formal application in Court to rectify the undesirable circumstances caused by your conduct.”

2nd Charge

“That you, Looi Wan Hui, have been:

  1. guilty of such misconduct unbefitting an Advocate and Solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession (under section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)); and/or
  2. guilty of a breach of Rule 7(1) and 7(2) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (your obligation as a legal practitioner to accord another legal practitioner due respect to the latter as a member of a noble and honourable profession, and to treat the latter with courtesy and fairness) pursuant to section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

in that you had failed to do what was reasonably necessary to finalise and complete your exit from M/s JLim Law Corporation, causing M/s JLim Law Corporation and the Complainant to have to take up a formal application in Court to rectify the undesirable circumstances caused by your conduct.”

Findings by the DT

In relation to the 1st Charge, the DT noted that the Complainant had agreed to the Respondent’s request to be made JLim Law Corporation’s Associate for the month of September 2016, as a favour, to enable the Respondent to set up his own law practice. However, the Respondent did not facilitate the transfer of files and carried on with some matters in the name of the Complainant’s firm. The DT found that the Respondent’s actions were most discourteous and unfair to the Complainant and gave a totally false impression that the Complainant’s firm were still the solicitors on record when this was not the case. It was noted that the Respondent’s actions necessitated the Complainant resorting to legal action. Accordingly, the DT found that the Respondent had contravened Rule 7(2) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 (PCR 2015) and was guilty of improper conduct as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(h) of the Act.

As for the 2nd Charge, the DT noted that the Respondent had an obligation to handover the relevant documents to the firm for filing of GST and annual returns and his failure to do so was to the detriment of the Complainant/Complainant’s law practice and lacked courtesy and that the law practice would be in breach of regulatory obligations. Further, this necessitated the Complainant to make an application to the Court in MC 22724/2016 to compel the Respondent to do so. Accordingly, the DT found that the Respondent had contravened Rule 7(2) of the PCR 2015 and was guilty of improper conduct as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(h) the Act.

The DT also noted that the Respondent went bankrupt in February 2017.

Given the said circumstances, the DT had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Act that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be ordered to pay a penalty of $8,000. Further, the DT ordered that costs of the proceedings to be fixed at $2,000.

The Council’s Decision

Pursuant to section 94(3)(a) of the Act, the Council of the Society agreed with the findings of the DT and ordered the Respondent to pay a penalty of $8,000.


In the Matter of Sham Chee Keat, Advocate & Solicitor

The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (the Act) that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be reprimanded and ordered to pay a penalty of $5,000.

The complaint concerned a statement in the Affidavit of the Respondent’s client, in which the said client, who was the Plaintiff of the suit, deposed and attested that the Respondent did not inform the Court (during the Pre-Trial Conference or PTC on 2 March 2016) that they would make the application for bifurcation of the Suit by 16 March 2016 and that the Defendant involved in the suit had “misquoted and twisted the words of my solicitor…”.

However, the Notes of Evidence of the Assistant Registrar (AR) in relation to the PTC indicated that there was an agreement by both parties that the Suit was suitable for bifurcation. Woo Bih Li, J noted the inconsistencies between the Affidavit and the AR’s Notes of Evidence and referred the matter to the Society pursuant to section 85(3) of the Act.

The DT subsequently granted leave to the Society’s Counsel to amend its charges as the Statement of Case submitted to the DT alluded to carelessness or lack of diligence on the Respondent’s part rather than dishonesty. Accordingly, the amended charges preferred against the Respondent were read as follows:

1st Charge

“You, Sham Chee Keat, an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court, are charged that you are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161, 2009 Rev Ed), to wit, by breaching Rule 5(2)(a) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 in that, sometime between 2 March 2016 and 11 June 2016, you had failed to be honest in all your dealings with your client, Ms Tan Chin Lay Evelyn, by providing information to her, to the effect that-

(a) you did not inform the court at the pre-trial conference on 2 March 2016 that you or your client, Ms Tan Chin Lay Evelyn (plaintiff in Suit No. 661 of 2015) would make the application for bifurcation by 16 March 2016; and

(b) the defendant in Suit No. 661 of 2015, Cheng Soo Many Stacy, had in paragraph 13 of her affidavit dated 23 May 2016 misquoted and twisted your words in stating that you informed the court that you or your client, Ms Tan Chin Lay Evelyn, would make the application for bifurcation by 16 March 2016 which statement is false,

which information you knew was false.”

An alternative charge to the 1st Charge was also tendered against the Respondent citing section 83(2)(h) of the Act for misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession.

2nd Charge

“You, Sham Chee Keat, an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court, are charged that you are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161, 2009 Rev Ed), to wit, by breaching Rule 9(2)(c) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 in that, sometime on or about 7 July 2016, you included or caused to be included in an affidavit deposed to by your client, Ms Tan Chin Lay Evelyn, the following statements of fact contained in paragraph 25 therein which you knew were inaccurate and false,

My solicitor did not inform this court that they would make an application for bifurcation by 16 March 2016. The Defendant has misquoted and twisted the words of my solicitor in paragraph 13 of the affidavit dated 23rd May 2016 in stating that my solicitor informed the court that they would make the application for bifurcation by 16 March 2016 which statement is false.’”

An alternative charge to the 2nd Charge was also tendered against the Respondent citing section 83(2)(h) of the Act for misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession. This was followed by a further alternative 2nd Charge referencing a breach of Rule 5(2)(c) of Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 (PCR 2015) for the Respondent’s failure to act with reasonable diligence and competence in the provision of services to the client by including or causing to be included the Affidavit deposed by his client the statement which formed the basis of the 2nd Charge.

Findings by the DT

The DT, inter alia, made the following findings:

  1. The Respondent misunderstood the outcome of the PTC and his attendance notes were inaccurately recorded;
  2. Notwithstanding the inaccuracy of the Respondent’s Attendance Notes, he was not dishonest in providing information to the client about the PTC on 2 March 2016 when it seemed unlikely that he would have any motive to knowingly cause the Affidavit to contain an untruthful statement. It was more likely that he misunderstood the outcome of the PTC and thereafter relayed the incorrect position to the client;
  3. The Respondent was not dishonest in causing or allowing the Statement to appear in the Affidavit even if he was badgered or pressured by the client to include the inaccurate statement; and
  4. The Respondent breached his duty of reasonable diligence and competence in allowing the statement, which was false and/or inaccurate, to be in the Affidavit, and therefore he was only guilty of the alternative 2nd Charge referencing a breach of Rule 5(2)(c) of PCR 2015. Further, he ought to have referred to the AR’s Notes of Evidence as soon as the issue of the PTC arose in the course of drafting the Affidavit, and set the record straight before the client incorporated the untruthful statement back into the draft of her affidavit. Thus, the Respondent had acted carelessly with insufficient professional diligence and competence.

The DT found that the Respondent acted unprofessionally without diligence and competence. However, in the absence of dishonesty, the DT’s view was that such carelessness was not egregious enough to warrant the sternest sanction available under the Act.

Given the said circumstances, the DT determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Act that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be reprimanded and ordered to pay a penalty of $5,000. Further, the DT ordered that costs of the proceedings to be fixed at $7,000 of the proceedings plus reasonable disbursements in favour of Law Society.

The Council’s Decision

Pursuant to section 94(3)(a) of the Act, the Council of the Society agreed with the findings of the DT, considered the Respondent’s oral and written mitigation and ordered the Respondent to pay a penalty of $3,000.


In the Matter of Wong Sin Yee, Advocate and Solicitor

The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (the Act) that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be reprimanded and ordered to pay a penalty of $6,000.

The proceedings against the Respondent arose out of a complaint by the Singapore Police Force that alleged that the Respondent had, on two separate occasions during his conversations with two different Investigation Officers (IOs), used offensive, insulting and threatening language against the two officers who were discharging their duties.

The Respondent had in his conversation with an IO threatened to lodge a complaint to his superiors as well as ‘Ministers’, challenged the IO to prefer criminal charges against his client and said that he will “drag the case against the client for one whole year” and the client would be made to “sell her body and earn money to pay [the Respondent’s] lawyer fees”.

In a separate conversation with another IO, he shouted at the IO that he “will be applying for hearing for the case”, accused the IO of being “cocky” and shouted “sure my balls, you are an idiot”.

Two charges were preferred against the Respondent.

The 1st Charge referenced his misconduct in the first conversation with one of the IOs, which was a breach Rule 53A of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (PCR) 2010 amounting to grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duty under section 83(2)(b) of the Act.

The 2nd Charge referenced his misconduct in the second conversation with the other IO, which was a breach of Rule 8(3)(b) of PCR 2015 amounting to grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duty under section 83(2)(b) of the Act.

Additionally, two alternative charges were tendered against the Respondent citing section 83(2)(h) of the Act for misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession.

Findings of the DT

The Respondent pleaded guilty to the two alternative charges referencing section 83(2)(h) of the Act.

The DT agreed with the Society’s submissions that a penalty sufficient and appropriate to the misconduct committed would suffice. With reference to Law Society of Singapore v Ravi s/o Madasamy [2012] SGDT 12, the DT found that a penalty of $3,000 for each of the two charges (totalling $6,000) would be sufficient and appropriate to the misconduct.

For the foregoing reasons, the DT determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Act that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action exists under section 83 of the Act, a penalty of $6,000 (S$3,000 per charge) should be imposed on the Respondent. Further, the DT determined the costs of the proceedings to be fixed at $3,000 plus reasonable disbursements.

The Council’s Decision

Pursuant to section 94(3)(a) of the Act, the Council of the Society agreed with the determination of the DT and ordered the Respondent to pay a penalty of $6,000.


In the Matter of Constance Margreat Paglar, Advocate & Solicitor

The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (the Act) that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be reprimanded and ordered to pay a penalty of $2,000.

The proceedings against the Respondent arose out of a complaint in respect of some of the Respondent’s clients’ claims made by JKS Motorworks (Accident Claims) Pte Ltd, an agent engaged by various owners of vehicles which were involved in traffic accidents to claim for losses and/or damages arising therefrom.

The Respondent’s firm was engaged by these clients to claim for losses and/or damages arising from traffic accidents. The gist of the Complaint against the Respondent was that she had failed to act with reasonable diligence in the provision of her services to the clients, as she had failed to keep her clients (through the Complainant) informed of the progress of their respective cases.

Before the DT hearings, the DT was notified that the Law Society would proceed only on four charges (Charges No. 1, 3, 7 and 9) out of the initial 19 charges based on an Agreed Statement of Facts (ASOF) and the Respondent would be taking a certain course of action in relation to the four charges. The four charges which referred to breaches of Rule 5(2)(c) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 (PCR 2015) for not keeping her clients informed of the progress of their respective claims, which amounted to improper conduct or practice as an advocate and solicitor under section 83(2)(b)(i) of the Act, were as follows:

Charge No.Dates between which no updates were provided to the client
124/12/15 – No updates as of formulation of ASOF dated 02/10/19
315/01/16 – 20/06/18
722/07/16 – 11/07/18
905/04/16 – 22/05/18

Findings by the DT

The Respondent pleaded guilty to the aforementioned four charges citing section 83(2)(b)(i) of the Act at the onset of the proceedings.

The DT accepted the Respondent’s submissions that her misconduct did not involve any dishonesty or constitute grossly improper conduct and that instead it arose out of lapses in her management of the clients’ files. The DT found that no prejudice was caused to the clients. Whilst the Respondent’s misconduct undoubtedly and unfortunately fell short of the standards befitting an advocate and solicitor, there was no deliberate omission or intention to cause harm to the clients on her part.

Given the said circumstances, the DT determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Act that no cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action existed under section 83 of the Act against the Respondent but she be ordered to pay a penalty of $4,000. The DT further determined that costs for the proceedings, which the Respondent agreed to bear, be fixed at $6,000.

The Council’s Decision

Pursuant to section 94(3)(a) of the Act, the Council of the Society agreed with the findings of the DT, considered the Respondent’s mitigation plea and ordered the Respondent to pay a penalty of $2,000.


In the Matter of L. F. Violet Netto, Advocate & Solicitor

The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (the Act) that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be reprimanded.

The proceedings against the Respondent arose out of a complaint by the Attorney-General, in relation to two Personal Costs Orders (PCOs) that had been made against the Respondent. The Respondent had failed to comply with the PCOs within reasonable time and without reasonable explanation for such delay, and she had also failed to accord the respective State Counsel of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) the courtesy of responding to their letters (specifically, a final reminder from the AGC) in connection with the PCOs. In addition, the Respondent had chosen to ignore the final chaser from the AGC to comply with the PCOs.

As a result of the said circumstances, a total of three charges were formulated against the Respondent.

The First Charge and the Second Charge were for the Respondent’s failure to comply with cost orders (in HC/OS 130/2015 and HC/OS 226/2015, respectively) made against her within a reasonable time and without any reasonable explanation which amounts to misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession within the meaning of section 83(2)(h) of the Act.

The Third Charge was for the Respondent’s breach of Rule 7(2) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules by neglecting, refusing and/or failing to respond to AGC’s letter of 23 February 2018 in relation to her payment obligations under the costs orders, which amounts to improper conduct or practice as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Act.

An Alternative Third Charge referencing section 83(2)(h) of the Act was also formulated.

Findings by the DT

Prior to the proceedings by the DT proper, the Respondent made payment for the outstanding amount. However, the AGC stated that it wished to proceed with the matter.

The DT noted that the final payment for the costs were made some three years after the orders were made and it was the Respondent who had sought the AGC’s indulgence to settle the costs orders along with the proposed quantum and timing for the instalments. Thereafter, she repeatedly failed to honour the payment schedules as agreed between her and the AGC, and as a result the AGC had to chase for the overdue payments and repeatedly remind her of her obligations. Further, it was only after AGC had referred the matter to the Society that the Respondent decided to make the final payment.

To this end, the Respondent was not able to provide any satisfactory explanation as to why she could not have responded to AGC’s letter dated 23 February 2018 or why she could not have paid that amount. Her dilatory conduct in failing to comply with the costs orders within a reasonable time and without out any reasonable explanation goes against the “interest of the judicial administration of justice”. Accordingly, the DT found the Respondent guilty of the First Charge and Second Charge.

For the Third Charge, the DT noted that between 13 April 2015 and 22 February 2018, the Respondent had failed to respond to approximately 14 letters from the AGC in relation to the costs orders, including the letter dated 23 February 2018 which was the final chaser from the AGC and she was not able to provide any satisfactory explanation as to why she could not have done so. As such, the DT found her guilty of the Third Charge.

Given the said circumstances, the DT had determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Act that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity existed for disciplinary action under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be reprimanded. The DT made no order as to costs.

The Council’s Decision

Pursuant to section 94(3)(a) of the Act, the Council of the Society agreed with the determination of the DT and reprimanded the Respondent.

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