Lau Liat Meng & Co v Lum Kai Keng

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChoo Han Teck JC
Judgment Date25 July 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGHC 159
Citation[2002] SGHC 159
Subject MatterTaxation,Nature of such bill,O 59 r 28(4) Rules of Court,Duty of lawyer to draw up bill clearly and accurately,Costs,Interim bill,Whether Rules of Court allow lawyer to submit larger bill subsequent to interim bill for same period,Civil Procedure,Review of taxation,Whether proper for lawyer to submit such bill and reserve right to present further bill covering the same period,Whether assistant registrar right in taking into account interim bills in taxing lawyer's bill,O 59 r 36 Rules of Court,Nature of hearing of such review
Defendant CounselWong Siew Hong (Infinitus Law Corp),Lau Liat Meng in attendance
Plaintiff CounselAndre Arul (C Arul & Partners)
Docket NumberBill of Costs No 600475 of 2001
Date25 July 2002
Published date19 September 2003

JUDGMENT GROUNDS OF DECISION

1. This was an application and cross-application for a review of taxation of costs of the applicant Lau Liat Meng & Co the solicitors for the respondent Lum Kai Keng. The bill of costs 600475 of 2001 was rendered in respect of solicitor and client costs covering the period 26 February 1998 and 28 February 2000.

2. The taxation was conducted over three special half-day hearings. In the bill the amount claimed under section 1 was $220,000 being a rounded figure based on the agreed rate of $500 an hour. The applicant submitted a claim based on 446 hours’ work. The assistant registrar taxed off $110,000 and allowed $110,000. On review, she declined to vary this sum, but increased the sum under section 2 from $1,200 to $1,500. Both parties applied to review the taxed costs.

3. The work done was essentially advisory in nature and concerned the administration of the estate of the respondent’s deceased husband. The matter became highly contentious and the respondent had since commenced litigation against her son and daughter, as well as the Keppel Tatlee Bank Ltd. The court action was commenced by another firm of solicitors. That part of it is not relevant for the purposes of this review.

4. It is relevant, however, to note that KS Chung was engaged by the respondent as a second counsel on 23 November 1999. It was he who commenced action after the respondent terminated the services of Lau Liat Meng & Co. Mr. Andre Arul appeared in this review as counsel for Lau Liat Meng & Co. He emphasized that the issues involved in the advice to Madam Lum were complex and therefore substantial costs ought to be ordered. Furthermore, he asserted that the costs were agreed at $500 an hour and therefore, under O 59 r 58, the court ought to give effect to this agreement.

5. There were two interim bills rendered by Lau Liat Meng & Co. The first was dated 14 December 1999 for $15,000 in respect of "professional services rendered from March 1998 until 25 October 1999". This bill was paid on 26 October 1999. The second bill was undated but counsel said that it was rendered about the end of December 1999, which meant that it would have been rendered about two weeks after the first. This bill was for $30,000 which was also paid. There was a letter dated 4 December 1999 in which Lau Liat Meng & Co wrote to Madam Lum thanking her for her cheque for $30,000 "to account of [their] professional services".

6. 2 to 4 of that letter states as follows:

"2. As we have explained to you your above case is full of complexities. We have attended on you on at least 30 hours (the details of which we have not worked out) our fees are approximately in the region of $450 to $1,500 per hour.

3...

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2 cases
  • Wong Foong Chai v Lin Kuo Hao
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 de abril de 2005
    ...completely afresh” (see per Choo Han Teck JC (as he then was) in the Singapore High Court decision of Lau Liat Meng & Co v Lum Kai Keng [2002] 4 SLR 400 at 18 Although the applicant did canvass a few specific arguments, I was not convinced that they merited an award of costs beyond that awa......
  • Wong Foong Chai v Lin Kuo Hao
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 de abril de 2005
    ...completely afresh” (see per Choo Han Teck JC (as he then was) in the Singapore High Court decision of Lau Liat Meng & Co v Lum Kai Keng [2002] 4 SLR 400 at 18 Although the applicant did canvass a few specific arguments, I was not convinced that they merited an award of costs beyond that awa......

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