Abdul Rahim Rajudin v The Law Society of Singapore

JudgeLord Ackner
Judgment Date21 January 1991
Neutral Citation[1991] SGPC 1
Docket NumberPrivy Council Appeal No 22 of 1989
Date21 January 1991
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselMichael Burke-Gaffney QC and B Mohan Singh
Citation[1991] SGPC 1
Defendant CounselSolicitors: Kingsford Stacey; Taylor Joynson Garrett,Robert Reid QC and Bernard Doray
CourtPrivy Council
Subject MatterWhether there was pressure to pay commission,r 14 Solicitor's Remuneration Order 1974,Professional conduct,Legal Profession,Whether conduct grossly improper,Disciplinary Committee's findings,Whether High Court conclusion proper,Whether bill rendered excessive,Finder's fee or commission payable to solicitor,Grossly improper conduct

Cur Adv Vult

There is before their Lordships an appeal by Abdul Rahim Rajudin from an order of the High Court of Singapore whereby it was ordered, pursuant to s 80 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161) (the Act), that he should be suspended from practice as an advocate and solicitor for a period of two months, and that he should pay to the respondent, the Law Society of Singapore, the costs of and incidental to the proceedings in the High Court and of proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Society.

The facts of the matter are, in brief, as follows.
The appellant, who practised as a sole practitioner, acted for Peter Chaw Chuan Choon (Peter Chaw) in relation to the purchase by him of certain property. By an agreement executed on or about 4 February 1980, Peter Chaw agreed to purchase the property for $667,653 ($7 per sq ft) without vacant possession. Peter Chaw asked the appellant to find him a purchaser for the property; and the appellant, through Roland Mah, introduced Philip Yap Pui Long (Philip Yap) to Peter Chaw. On 4 March 1980, following negotiations at the appellant`s office, a price was agreed between Peter Chaw and Philip Yap of $2,241,406.50 ($23.50 per sq ft); on the following day an agreement for the sale of the property by Peter Chaw to Philip Yap, at that price and with vacant possession, was signed by the parties. Completion was to take place on 30 September 1980. By a separate document (the note) signed by Peter Chaw, he agreed to pay Roland Mah a commission at the rate of 50 cents per sq ft of the property. The appellant through Roland Mah had asked for commission at the rate of 25 cents per sq ft, viz $23,844.75; and, as was recorded in an endorsement on the note, Roland Mah agreed to pay the appellant a share of 25 cents per sq ft out of the commission he was to receive.

In the following month, April 1980, the appellant learned that Peter Chaw had previously agreed to sell the property to another purchaser for $1,335,306 ($14 per sq ft), subject to existing tenancies.
The appellant resolved that matter for Peter Chaw on terms which included the rescission of the previous sale agreement on payment to that purchaser of $273,036.63. However, at the end of June 1980, Peter Chaw again asked for the assistance of the appellant. He needed the services of the appellant to write on his behalf to Philip Yap demanding a further payment on account of the purchase price payable under the sale agreement for the property. Peter Chaw then entered into an agreement with the appellant (the commission agreement) whereby he agreed to pay to the appellant $119,223.75 ($1.25 per sq ft) for the services rendered by the appellant in securing a buyer for Peter Chaw ready to purchase the property at a price of $23.50 per sq ft. It was agreed shortly thereafter that the sum of $119,223.75 was inclusive of the appellant`s costs and disbursements from 4 October 1979 to 25 June 1980.

Hitherto, the appellant had acted for both Peter Chaw and Philip Yap in relation to the sale of the property, but, following disputes between Peter Chaw and Philip Yap, the appellant was no longer able to act for both parties and Peter Chaw instructed new solicitors, Kirpal Singh & Co.
In August 1980, Philip Yap issued a vendor and purchaser summons against Peter Chaw concerning the sale agreement. In connection with the summons, the appellant rendered assistance to Peter Chaw on certain factual matters.

On 10 April 1981 the appellant submitted to Peter Chaw a bill of costs (the bill) for $150,000 for professional charges in relation to the property.
The sum of $150,000 claimed under the bill included the sum of $119,223.75 payable under the commission agreement. The appellant later stated that the sum of $150,000 included about $50,000 costs and disbursements (of which $30,000 was said to be in respect of 50 to 100 hours work done assisting Peter Chaw on matters of fact in relation to the vendor and purchaser summons), and a sum of $69,000 said to constitute commission or finder`s fee. Peter Chaw did not pay the bill. On 26 April 1982, the appellant commenced proceedings against Peter Chaw for the sum of $150,000. On 5 August, Peter Chaw commenced proceedings for taxation of the bill.

Thereafter, Peter Chaw made a complaint against the appellant to the Law Society.
A Disciplinary Committee of the Law Society (the committee) was appointed to investigate the complaint. The committee reported on 26...

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1 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2007, December 2007
    • 1 December 2007
    ...of the client”s pressing need for legal representation are other familiar instances. Abdul Rahim Rajudin v Law Society of Singapore[1991] SLR 1 may be cited as such an instance. In that case, the appellant demanded a commission of $1.25 per square foot as a condition of his writing to Phili......

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