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The Singapore Law Gazette

Disciplinary Tribunal Reports

In the Matter of Chan Chun Hwee Allan
Advocate & Solicitor

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

The disciplinary proceedings were brought by the Law Society against the Respondent for breach of ethical and professional standards that were expected of the Respondent as an advocate and solicitor. The gravamen of the charges related to the Respondent’s rendering of excessive bills to one of his clients’. The said client filed a complaint against the Respondent with the Law Society on 12 October 2015, which led to the present proceedings.

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

1st Charge

You, Chan Chun Hwee Allan, are charged that you, on or about 8 September 2014, at 133 New Bridge Road, #14-06 Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413, did charge your client a total fee of $32,768.20 (including $268.20 for disbursements) for work done by you as his solicitor for the period 7 August 2013 to 8 September 2014, as evidenced by your Bill No.1582/14 dated 8 September 2014, which fee was far in excess of and disproportionate to what you were reasonably entitled to charge for the services rendered to your client, and such overcharging by you amounts to a breach of Rule 38 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (“PCR”), and you have thereby breached a rule of conduct made by the Council under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act as amounts to grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act.”

2nd Charge

“You, Chan Chun Hwee Allan, are charged that you, on or about 24 April 2015, at 133 New Bridge Road, #14-06 Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413, did charge your client a total fee of $72,063.80 (including $563.80 for disbursements) for work done by you as his solicitor for the period 7 August 2013 to 8 September 2014, as evidenced by your Bill of Costs No. FC/BC11/2015 dated 24 April 2015, which fee was far in excess of and disproportionate to what you were reasonably entitled to charge for the services rendered to your client, and such overcharging by you amounts to a breach of Rule 38 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules, and you have thereby breached a rule of conduct made by the Council under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act as amounts to grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act.”

Additionally, an alternative 2nd charge was 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.

At the onset of the disciplinary proceedings, the Respondent contended that both charges were against the rule of duplicity as they were related to overcharging for the same set of work done. He contended that only the 1st Charge should be considered by the DT. However, the DT determined that both charges were related to separate and distinct acts. While the 1st charge was related to his invoice, the 2nd charge was related to the Bill of Costs presented for taxation instead.

Findings by the DT

Whilst the DT was of the view that there had been breaches of Rule 38 of the PCR as per both charges, the DT did not consider these breaches as amounting to grossly improper conduct on the part of the Respondent. Otherwise, the DT accepted the Respondent’s explanation and found that the nature of the errors relating to the wrongful inclusion of items in the Bill of Costs pointed to an oversight rather than deceit. Moreover, this was the presentation of a Bill of Costs, and not the presentation of an invoice, so it is an act one step removed from requiring payment by the Complainant and hence an act one step removed from bringing pressure to bear on him to pay the bill. Although the breaches did not amount to grossly improper conduct, the DT found the Respondent’s conduct unsatisfactory and that the alternative 2nd charge set out below was made out.

Alternative 2nd Charge

You, Chan Chun Hwee Allan, are charged that you, on or about 24 April 2015, at 133 New Bridge Road, #14-06 Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413, did charge your client a total fee of $72,063.80 (including $563.80 for disbursements) for work done by you as his solicitor for the period 7 August 2013 to 8 September 2014, as evidenced by your Bill of Costs No. FC/BC11/2015 dated 24 April 2015, which fee was far in excess of and disproportionate to what you were reasonably entitled to charge for the services rendered to your client, and further, in which Bill of Costs, you included items which you are not legally entitled to claim fees for work done and such conduct by you 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 Legal Profession Act.”

Given the said circumstances, the DT determined pursuant to section 93(1)(b) of the Act that whilst no cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action existed under section 83 of the Act, the Respondent should be ordered to pay a penalty of $5,000. Further, the DT ordered the Respondent to bear the costs of these proceedings, to be taxed if not agreed.

The Council’s Decision

Pursuant to section 94(3)(a) of the Act, the Council agreed with the determination of the DT and ordered the Respondent to pay a penalty of $5,000.


In the Matter of Kang Bee Leng
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 proceedings against the Respondent arose out of a complaint by the Attorney-General that the Respondent had breached Rule 70D of the Act. Prior to this complaint, the Respondent had been convicted of an offence under section 39 of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA) for failing to file a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) despite having reasonable grounds to believe that the $5.5 million paid by her client towards the purchase of a property represented proceeds that were linked to a Ponzi scheme operating in China. The evidence showed that the Respondent had been informed by the real estate agent that her client had been detained by the authorities in China for her involvement in a Ponzi scheme and thereafter the Respondent came across various news articles verifying that her client had indeed been involved the said Ponzi scheme.

The Respondent became suspicious that the monies used by the client to pay for the said property purchase could have been derived from fraud. However, despite her suspicions, she did not file an STR as stipulated under section 39(1)(a) of the CDSA. On 17 April 2018, she was sentenced to a fine of $10,000 for an offence under section 39 of the CDSA.

The Respondent was charged for failing to disclose to a STR Officer by way of a suspicious transaction report or to an authorised officer under the CDSA that the monies paid by her client towards the purchase of a property represented proceeds of an act that may have constituted criminal conduct despite having reasonable grounds to believe so and had thereby breached section 70D of the Act, such breach amounting to improper conduct or practice as an advocate and solicitor under section 83(2)(b)(ii) of the Act.

Additionally, an alternative charge was 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 by the DT

The Respondent pleaded guilty to the charge referencing section 83(2)(b)(ii) of the Act at the onset of the proceedings.

The DT noted that the obligation for a solicitor to file an STR imposed by the CDSA is one of strict compliance and failure to do so not only constituted a criminal offence but also invited disciplinary proceedings to be taken out against her under section 70G of the Act.

Having considered the Respondent’s mitigation submissions, the DT accepted that her failure to file the STR was more of a lapse in judgement rather than a deliberate refusal to do so and noted that there was no dishonesty involved. Further, other than acting as the conveyancing lawyer in the aborted purchase of the property, the Respondent was not in any way involved in the criminal conduct relating to the receipt of four payments towards the purchase of the said property.

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 should be reprimanded and ordered to pay a penalty of $5,000. The DT further determined that costs for the proceedings 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 $1,000.


In the Matter of Kangatharan Kandavellu
Formerly an Advocate & Solicitor

The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) 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 $15,000.

The said disciplinary proceedings against the Respondent arose from a qualified Accountant’s Report dated 6 July 2015, which was submitted by the Respondent to apply to renew his practicing certificate in July 2015. The aforementioned Accountant’s Report showed that the Respondent’s Firm’s client account was overdrawn and the accountant could not verify with supporting documents (such as bills, disbursement schedules or other authorisation documents) transfers from the Firm’s client account to its office account for payment of legal fees in respect of six cases, as well as a general journal entry. These issues raised by the accountant in the said Account Report revealed several breaches of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Account) Rules (‘SAR’), and the said breaches formed the substance of the five charges preferred against the Respondent.

The following charges were preferred against the Respondent:

1st Charge

“You, Kangatharan Kandavellu, being an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore, on or about 30 June 2014, withdrew a total sum of $36,328.26 from the Clients Account of KANGA & CO which exceeded the sum of $11,078.65 being the total of the money held at the material time in the said Clients Account and in so doing you have thereby breached Rule 7(2) of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Accounts) Rules and are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161).”

2nd Charge

“You, Kangatharan Kandavellu, being an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore, on or about 31 December 2014, withdrew a total sum of $53,520.70 from the Clients Account of KANGA & CO which exceeded the sum of $28,270.99 being the total of the of the money held at the material time in the said Clients Account and in so doing you have thereby breached Rule 7(2) of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Accounts) Rules and are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161).”

3rd Charge

“You, Kangatharan Kandavellu, being an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore, failed to keep proper accounting records for the accounting period of 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014, namely, records of payment of $10,000.00, $11,200.00, $6,000.00, $8,000.00, $3,500.00 and $1,400.00 into the Clients Account of KANGA & CO and in so doing you have thereby breached Rule 11(1) of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Accounts) Rules and are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161).”

4th Charge

“You, Kangatharan Kandavellu, being an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore, failed to keep a record of all bills of costs (distinguishing between profit costs and disbursements) and of all written intimations under Rule 7(1)(a)(iv) and 9(2)(c)(i) of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Accounts) Rules delivered or made by your clients for the accounting period of 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014, namely, your bills of costs for $11,200.00 which sum was withdrawn on or around 21 February 2014 and in so doing you have thereby breached Rule 11(3) of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Accounts) Rules and are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161).”

5th Charge

“You, Kangatharan Kandavellu, being an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore, failed to conduct monthly reconciliation of the balance of your clients’ cash books with your clients’ bank statements and to keep a statement showing the reconciliation for the months of June 2014 and December 2014, and you have thereby breached Rule 11(4) of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Accounts) Rules and are guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of your professional duty as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of section 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161).”

Additionally, five 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 and Determination of the DT

The Respondent pleaded guilty to the five alternative charges at the onset of the proceedings.

The DT agreed with the Society’s Counsel that the breaches of Rules 7 and Rule 11 of the SAR in the present case could be seen as less serious than a failure to deposit client’s money into a client account, in contravention of Rule 3 of the SAR. As the funds in question had properly been deposited into a client account initially, the accountant was able to highlight issues with the accounts that led to the breaches being discovered and rectified. Furthermore, the Respondent had neither been fraudulent nor dishonest and the breaches did not lead to a permanent loss to any client.

In Law Society of Singapore v Tay Choon Leng John [2012] 3 SLR 150, the DT noted that where dishonesty or deceit on the solicitor’s part was not made out, the starting point should be a monetary penalty. Whilst the sum of $15,000 imposed in Tay Choon Leng John was related to a more serious breach of Rule 3 of the SAR, the client account in the present matter was overdrawn to a greater extent. Furthermore, the Respondent’s failure to keep proper accounting records, records of bills and to conduct monthly reconciliation also affected a larger number of transactions rather than just two as in Tay Choon Leng John.

For the foregoing reasons, 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, a penalty of $15,000 should be imposed on the Respondent. Further, pursuant to section 93(2) of the Act, the DT ordered the Respondent to pay the Society costs of $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 findings of the DT and ordered the Respondent to pay a penalty of $2,500.


In the Matter of Yeo Kan Kiang Roy
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.

The proceedings against the Respondent arose out of his failure to keep the client’s daughter/Complainant informed of matters concerning his High Court Suit of various matters in the client’s High Court Suit and his subsequent discharge from the matter. The client was at the material time facing criminal charges overseas and was detained, thus becoming uncontactable. It was later learnt that he subsequently suffered a stroke.

A total of 12 charges were preferred against the Respondent at the onset of the proceedings. Each of the principal charges referenced section 83(2)(b)(i) of the Act whilst the alternative charges referenced section 83(2)(h) of the Act. The charges referencing the various breaches of the 2010 edition of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (‘PCR’) and the findings by the DT are summarized in the table below.

 Nature of ChargeFindings of the DT
1st ChargeBreach of Rule 17 of PCR for failure to keep client reasonably informed of the directions made at the 25 January PTC.Charge made out as DT found that the Law Society had proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Respondent had made “no attempt” to inform his client of the directions made at the PTC.
2nd ChargeBreach of Rule 17 of PCR for failure to keep client reasonably informed of the directions made at the 8 February PTC.Charge made out, the DT took the same position as it did for the 1st charge.
3rd ChargeBreach of Rule 17 of PCR for failure to keep client reasonably informed of the Discharge Application and Discharge Order.Charge dismissed, the DT found that the Respondent had served a copy of the Discharge Order on his client’s last known address in compliance with Order 64 Rule 6 of the Rules of Court.
4th ChargeBreach of Rule 42(2)(a) of PCR for failure to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to client when the Respondent failed to give client due notice of discharge by making no attempt to inform the client about the Discharge Application and Discharge Order.Charge dismissed, the DT took the same position as it did for the 3rd charge.
5th chargeBreach of Rule 42(2)(a) of PCR for failure to avoid foreseeable harm to client when the Respondent failed to allow client reasonable time to substitute a new solicitor, by making no attempt to inform the client about the Discharge Application and Discharge Order.Charge dismissed, the DT took the same position as it did for the 3rd and 4th charge.
6th chargeBreach of Rule 56 of PCR for making a false and misleading statement during his discharge application when he informed the Court that his client was estranged from his children and unable to find others to contact.Charge dismissed, DT found that Respondent’s statement to be an honest belief and the requisite mens rea to “knowingly” mislead or deceive the Court when he made the Representation was absent.
7th ChargeBreach of Rule 17 of PCR for failure to keep client reasonably informed of his matter’s progress when the Respondent made no attempt to inform client about the directions given or Interlocutory Judgment (IJ) entered at the 28 February PTC.Charge dismissed, Law Society acknowledged that the Respondent would not be aware of any updates in the Suit after being discharged from the same.
8th ChargeBreach of Rule 42(2)(a) of PCR for failure to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to client when the Respondent made no attempt to inform client about the directions given or IJ entered at the 28 February PTC.Charge dismissed, the DT takes the same position as it did for the 7th charge.
9th ChargeBreach of Rule 53A of PCR for misleading the Complainant into believing that he was still acting for the client when he had obtained a discharge from so acting.Charge made out, the DT found that the response given by the Respondent evidence did not make it clear that he was no longer acting for the client but seemed to suggest he was still involved in the Suit, thereby still acting for the client.
10th ChargeBreach of Rule 17 of PCR for failure to keep client reasonably informed of his matter’s progress when the Respondent made no attempt to inform client of discharge.Charge dismissed, Law Society was unable to provide that even though it was the Complainant who called him, the Respondent’s duty extended to contacting the client to inform him of the discharge.
11th ChargeBreach of Rule 42(2)(a) of PCR for failure to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to client when the Respondent made no attempt to inform the client that the Respondent’s firm had been discharged as client’s solicitors.Charge dismissed, the DT took the same position as it did for the 10th charge.
12th ChargeBreach of Rule 53A of PCR for misleading the Complainant into believing that the Respondent was still acting for client when he had already obtained a discharge from so acting.Charged dismissed, the WhatsApp messages and emails cannot be said to be misleading when the Complainant was aware before exchanging messages with the Respondent that the Respondent had discharged himself, and the last message stating that he “will revert” did not amount to any representation that the Respondent was still acting or not acting for the client in the Suit.

In arriving at its determination, the DT noted that in relation to the 1st charge, the omission to inform the client of the directions made at the 25 January PTC was more of an error of judgment on the Respondent’s part as to whether other means of communicating with the client (such as via e-mails or third parties) are viable/permissible in view of his obligations to keep client information confidential. As for the 9th Charge, the DT accepted the Respondent’s submission that there was no intention to mislead the client as well as the Society’s submission that the conduct was not so serve as to constitute taking unfair advantage of the Complainant since the Respondent never gained any real benefit at all.

For the foregoing reasons, 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 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 be reprimanded.

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