Law Society of Singapore v Ezekiel Caleb Charles James

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date23 February 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGHC 35
Citation[2004] SGHC 35
Subject MatterShow cause action,Appropriate order to be made,Legal Profession,Section 83(1) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed), s 406 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Weight to be given to mitigating factors,Advocate and solicitor convicted of criminal breach of trust
Plaintiff CounselM P Rai (Cooma and Rai)
Date23 February 2004
Defendant CounselChelva Rajah SC (Tan Rajah and Cheah)
Published date04 May 2004
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1575 of

23 February 2004

Yong Pung How CJ (delivering the judgment of the court):

1 This was an application by the Law Society of Singapore (“the Law Society”) pursuant to s 98(5) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) (“the LPA”) to make absolute an order to show cause. We granted the application and ordered the respondent, Caleb Charles James Ezekiel, to be struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors. We now give our reasons.

Facts

2 The facts of this case were undisputed. The respondent was a senior lawyer of 20 years’ standing, having been called to the Bar in 1984. At all material times, he was an equity partner at M/s Khattar Wong & Partners (“the firm”). In his capacity as equity partner, the respondent was entrusted with funds held in both the firm’s office account as well as the omnibus clients’ account.

3 In or about May 1996, the firm was engaged by Jerneh Insurance Berhad (“Jerneh”) to act on their behalf in relation to an insurance claim arising from a fatal road traffic accident. The defendant in the suit was insured with Jerneh. The case came under the charge of the respondent, who had authorisation from Jerneh to settle the suit up to a sum of $50,000. On 29 September 1998, the respondent settled the civil suit in excess of the mandate from Jerneh. Final judgment was entered against Jerneh and damages of $130,000 and costs of $15,000 plus disbursements were assessed to be paid to the claimants via the Public Trustee.

4 Between May 1999 and April 2000, the respondent made several withdrawals amounting to a total of $128,000 from the firm’s omnibus clients’ account without permission, and paid the moneys over to the Public Trustee, in settlement of the claim. He subsequently made several repayments between 7 May 1999 and 7 April 2000 into the clients’ account. By 23 September 2002, the respondent had made full restitution of the moneys taken.

5 The managing partner of the firm made a police report when these unauthorised withdrawals came to his attention. Notwithstanding the fact that the respondent had restored the moneys, it was clear that the initial taking was unauthorised. Accordingly, the respondent was charged with four counts of criminal breach of trust under s 406 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed). On 18 September 2003, the respondent pleaded guilty to one charge, and three others were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing. On 26 September 2003, he was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment.

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9 cases
  • Law Society of Singapore v Choy Chee Yean
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 25 mai 2010
    ...Law Society of Singapore v Ong Lilian [2005] SGHC 187 (“Ong Lilian”); and Law Society of Singapore v Ezekiel Caleb Charles James [2004] 2 SLR(R) 256 (“Ezekiel Caleb Charles James”)). Work pressure or stress should never be an excuse for a lawyer to act dishonestly. Reference may be made to ......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Junaini bin Manin
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 7 septembre 2004
    ...2001. He was sentenced to a total of four and a half years’ imprisonment. 23 In Law Society of Singapore v Ezekiel Caleb Charles James [2004] 2 SLR 256 (“Ezekiel’s case”), heard by the same court of three judges and on the same day as Law Society of Singapore v Loh Wai Mun Daniel, an advoca......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Udeh Kumar s/o Sethuraju and another matter
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 27 juin 2017
    ...v Amdad Hussein Lawrence [2000] 3 SLR(R) 23), criminal breach of trust (Law Society of Singapore v Ezekiel Caleb Charles James [2004] 2 SLR(R) 256; Law Society of Singapore v Loh Wai Mun Daniel [2004] 2 SLR(R) 261), attempted cheating (Nathan Edmund) and abetting a client to avoid attending......
  • Public Prosecutor v Mahadevan Lukshumayeh
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 31 mai 2005
    ...and the protection of the public: see Re Knight Glenn Jeyasingam[1994] 3 SLR 531, Law Society of Singapore v Ezekiel Caleb Charles James[2004] 2 SLR 256, Law Society of Singapore v Wee Wei Fen [2001] 1 SLR 234 at paras 39 and 40. In Re Knight Glenn Jeyasingam[1994] 3 SLR 531, the Court elab......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2004, December 2004
    • 1 décembre 2004
    ...2 SAL Ann Rev 338 at para 18.41ff. 18.29 The second reported case, Law Society of Singapore v Ezekiel Caleb Charles James[2004] 2 SLR 256, made another valuable contribution. The respondent negligently settled a suit in excess of the mandate granted to him by his client and then made unauth......

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