Disciplinary Tribunal Reports
Pursuant to section 93(5) of the Legal Profession Act, the Council of the Law Society is required to publish the findings and determination of the Disciplinary Tribunal in the Singapore Law Gazette or in such other media as the Council may determine to adequately inform the public of the same.
This summary is published pursuant to the requirement of section 93(5) of the Legal Profession Act.
In the Matter of Zheng Shengyang Harry (Respondent), Advocate & Solicitor
These proceedings arose from a complaint lodged by one Lee Kuan Fung (Complainant). The complaint pertained to the Respondent’s conduct in which the Respondent’s law firm, Ark Law Corporation, had issued a letter of demand to the Complainant and one Chua Chim Kang, and the Respondent had caused the said letter of demand to be openly posted on a wall beside the main door of the Complainant’s flat in plain view of the public on 9 October 2020.
In relation to the complaint, the Chief Justice empanelled a DT presided by Mr Narayanan Sreenivasan SC and Mr Seah Seow Kang Steven as DT member.
For misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as a member of an honourable profession under Section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) (LPA) in which the Respondent had caused a letter of demand, addressed to the Complainant and another, which was prepared for his client, to be openly posted on 9 October 2020 at 7.37pm, on a wall beside the main door of Lee’s flat in plain view of the public without an envelope, when the Respondent knew or ought to have known that there was no necessity or legal basis to do so, in a way which is contrary to the Respondent’s position as a member of an honourable profession in breach of Rule 8(3)(b) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (PCR).
Findings and Determination of the DT, Council’s Sanctions
The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) found the Respondent guilty of the Charge.
The DT was of the view that the interpretation of the phrase “contrary to the legal practitioner’s position as a member of an honourable profession” in Rule 8(3)(b) of the PCR did not require a finding of culpability akin to fraud or deceit, as it would be inconsistent with the guiding principles in Rule 4 of the PCR and the specific guiding principles in Rule 8(1) of the PCR.
Further, the DT, in its analysis of whether the actions of an advocate and solicitor should be viewed objectively or whether the subjective intentions of the advocate and solicitor should be considered, was of the view that the test should be one from the view of an objective observer.
After considering all the evidence, the DT found that the Respondent did not intentionally cause embarrassment to Lee or intentionally indulge in unfair conduct but that the Respondent had breached Rule 8(3)(b) of the PCR.
The DT noted that openly posting the letter of demand in public view without an envelope was unfair as letters of demand are assertions by one party against the other, and there was no reason in law for publication. The letter of demand in question contained both personal details and matters in dispute that had to be resolved between the parties, and a public display of its contents would clearly embarrass and put pressure on the Complainant.
Council adopted the findings and recommendations of the DT and the Respondent was reprimanded. Costs fixed at $5,000 (exclusive of disbursements) were also ordered by the DT to be payable by the Respondent to the Law Society.
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