Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan Lee Meng J
Judgment Date26 January 1999
Neutral Citation[1999] SGHC 28
Citation[1999] SGHC 28
Defendant CounselCR Rajah SC and Burton Chen (Tan, Rajah & Cheah)
Plaintiff CounselPrem Gurbani (Gurbani & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1318 of
Date26 January 1999
Subject MatterPrinciples to consider in deciding whether suspension or striking off appropriate,Legal Profession,Professional conduct,s 83 Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1994 Ed),Grossly improper conduct
Facts

Ravindra Samuel (`the respondent`) was called to the Bar on 12 February 1986 and is an advocate and solicitor of 12 years standing. At all material times, he was employed as a legal assistant by the firm Niru & Co.

Sometime in February 1996, one R Kalamohan, then a partner at Niru & Co, was instructed by one Jais bin Abdul to act in a claim against one Hassan bin Mohamed. The matter was assigned to the respondent. Niru & Co`s file reference in respect of this matter was NKP.1412.96. Sometime in the middle of 1996, Jais bin Abdul handed over to the respondent the sum of $2,416.35 in cash as payment of professional fees due to Niru & Co. The respondent did not however pay this money into the firm`s account.

Sometime in January 1997, Jais bin Abdul spoke to one Ms Larine Tan. Ms Larine Tan informed him that there was an outstanding bill of $2,416.35 for professional fees which he has not paid. Jais bin Abdul claimed that he had handed over the money for the professional fees due to Niru & Co to the respondent in 1996. Ms Larine Tan checked with the accounts department and informed Jais bin Abdul that their record showed that they had not received any money from him. Jais bin Abdul insisted that he had personally handed the money over to the respondent. Ms Larine Tan reproduced this conversation in an attendance note to the respondent dated 31 January 1997. The respondent appended the following to the attendance note:
Spoke to Jais. He confirm money not paid. Bill outstanding.



On 10 March 1997, Ms Larine Tan spoke to R Kalamohan.
She informed him that Jais bin Abdul had told her that he had paid the sum of $2,416.35 in cash to the respondent, whereas the respondent had recorded in the file that Jais bin Abdul had confirmed that he had not paid the money and that the bill was still outstanding. R Kalamohan then spoke to the respondent. The respondent admitted that he had received the money from Jais bin Abdul but had lost it.

On 11 March 1997, Ms Larine Tan spoke to R Kalamohan again, in respect of file reference number NKP.1220.95.
She said that the client in that case, one Mr Liow, had handed over $1,000 in cash to the respondent. Mr Liow then decided not to proceed in view of the costs involved. She asked the respondent if he wished to send Mr Liow a final bill, but the respondent kept procrastinating. She then spoke to the wife of Mr Liow, who said that they had handed the $1,000 to the respondent and had not taken it back. The money had not been paid into the firm`s account.

R Kalamohan then wrote a memorandum to NK Pillai, the managing partner of the firm, informing him of these matters.
NK Pillai assigned one Liew Teck Huat to investigate the matter. Liew Teck Huat sent a memorandum to the respondent asking him for an explanation. The respondent replied in a memorandum dated 14 March 1997, explaining that (a) in respect of file reference number NKP.1412.96, he had lost the money and had intended to replace the money from his salary over the course of a few months and (b) in respect of file reference number NKP.1220.95, he had no recollection of the matter.

R Kalamohan then made a formal complaint to the Law Society in a letter dated 4 April 1997 against the respondent founded on the above facts.
The Law Society preferred the following charges against the respondent:

First charge

That Ravindra Samuel is guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duties within the meaning of s 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1994 Ed) in that he sometime in the middle of 1996 did receive a sum of $2,416.35 in cash from one Jais bin Abdul, a client of Messrs Niru & Co, in which firm he was a legal assistant, in settlement of professional fees, and failed to hand over the sum to his employers or to otherwise account for the same.

Second charge

That Ravindra Samuel is guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duties within the meaning of s 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1994 Ed) in that he did sometime in 1996 while handling as a legal assistant in Niru & Co a file bearing the reference number NKP.1220.95 receive the sum of $1,000 in cash from the client and failed to pay the same into Niru & Co`s clients` account or to otherwise account to his employers for the same.



A disciplinary committee was subsequently appointed to hear and investigate the complaints against the respondent.
At a preliminary hearing held on 26 June 1998, the respondent, who was represented by counsel, was given leave to file a defence not later than 28 July 1998. The matter was fixed for hearing by the disciplinary committee on 4 August 1998. The respondent did not file a defence, and at the commencement of the hearing on 4 August 1998, counsel for the respondent informed the committee that the respondent (a) was not disputing any of the contents of the statement of case, (b) admitted to the two charges against him and (c) accepted that the committee was obliged to make a...

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65 cases
  • Law Society of Singapore v Wee Wei Fen
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • October 6, 1999
    ......To this end, the pronoucement of the court in Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel [1999] 1 SLR 696 at [para ] 15 is relevant: . . . (1) .. where a solicitor has acted dishonestly, the court will order ......
  • The Law Society of Singapore v Amdad Hussein Lawrence
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • September 1, 2000
    ...... was also highlighted that the offence was not committed in his capacity as a solicitor.The earlier decisions in Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel [1999] 1 SLR 696 at [para ] 15; Law Society of Singapore v Tham Yu Xian Rick , supra, at [para ] 18; Law Society of Singapore v Suresh ......
  • The Law Society of Singapore v Tham Yu Xian Rick
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • August 17, 1999
    ......In this respect, the dicta of the High Court in Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel [1999] 1 SLR 696 at pp 699-700 was worth repeating: . . . 11 .. It is not simply a question of punishing the ......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Ng Chee Sing
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • March 13, 2000
    ......The principles on disciplinary sentencing were applied in the recent decisions of Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel [1999] 1 SLR 696 , Law Society of Singapore v Tham Yu Xian Rick [1999] 4 SLR 168 and Law Society of Singapore v Heng Guan Hong ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2004, December 2004
    • December 1, 2004
    ...public should be protected from the advocate and solicitor by his removal from the roll: see Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel[1999] 1 SLR 696; Law Society of Singapore v Tham Yu Xian Rick[1999] 4 SLR 168. Second, if the conduct is not dishonest, the next question is whether the ad......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2001, December 2001
    • December 1, 2001
    ...at the same time expanded considerably the underlying considerations and clearly accepted, in Law Society of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel[1999] 1 SLR 696 at 699—700 (see also Law Society of Singapore v Lau See-Jin Jeffrey[1999] 2 SLR 215 at 227) and numerous other cases, three objectives of ......

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