Law Society of Singapore v Ng Bock Hoh Dixon

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChan Sek Keong CJ
Judgment Date04 March 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] SGHC 69
Citation[2010] SGHC 69
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1068 of 2009 (Summons No 5527 of 2009)
Published date09 March 2010
Subject MatterProfessional conduct,Misconduct unbefitting of an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession,Legal Profession
Defendant Counselthe respondent in person.
Date04 March 2010
Hearing Date02 February 2010
Plaintiff CounselVijai Dharamdas Parwani (Parwani & Co)
Andrew Phang Boon Leong JA (delivering the grounds of decision of the court): Introduction

This was an application by the Law Society of Singapore (“the Law Society”) made under ss 94(1) and 98(1) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) (“the Act”) against Dixon Ng Bock Hoh (“the Respondent”) to make absolute an order to show cause.

The charges brought against the Respondent, as amended by the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Society (“the Disciplinary Committee) at the end of the hearing, and to which the Respondent pleaded guilty, read as follows (see Law Society of Singapore v Dixon Ng Bock Hoh [2009] SGDSC 4 (“the Report”) at [44]–[45]):

Re-amended First Charge

You, [the Respondent], an Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court are charged that you, in or about December 2005 or January 2006, in Singapore, were guilty of misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court and as a member of an honourable profession within the meaning of section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) in that, sometime in or about December 2005 or January 2006, you prepared a document entitled Judgment between JCV Consultants and Nortel (S) Pte Ltd dated 13 December 2005 for DC Suit 133418 of 2005 stamped “Draft” which purported to be a draft of a judgment for an action in the Subordinate Courts of Singapore which document you knew was false.

Re-amended Second Charge

You, [the Respondent], an Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court are charged that you, in or about December 2005 or January 2006, in Singapore, were guilty of misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court and as a member of an honourable profession within the meaning of section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) in that, sometime in or about December 2005 or January 2006, you prepared a document entitled Judgment between RJ Crocker Consultants Pte and Singapore Agro Agricultural Pte Ltd dated 14 December 2005 for DC Suit 133553 of 2005 stamped “Draft” which purported to be a draft of a judgment for an action in the Subordinate Courts of Singapore which document you knew was false.

After hearing arguments by counsel for the Law Society as well as the Respondent in person, we ordered that the Respondent be suspended from practice for two years, but made no order as to costs. We now give the detailed grounds for our decision.

The background

The Respondent is an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore of approximately 17 years’ standing and was practising as a sole proprietor of Messrs Dixon Ng & Co at the material time. The complainant is one Ng Swee How who is also known as Vincent Ng.

On or about June 2001, the complainant engaged the services of the Respondent to represent JCV Consultants (which was a sole-proprietorship owned by the complainant) in its claim against Nortel Networks Pte Ltd for outstanding payment due. The Respondent filed a writ on the complainant’s behalf. However, the writ was not served and the action was deemed to have been discontinued one year after the date of issue of the writ. Subsequently, on or about September 2005, the complainant and the Respondent met again and became business partners for the purposes of developing business contacts in the Middle East. However, by March 2006, their relationship had soured. On 17 April 2006, the complainant informed the Respondent via e-mail that he was terminating their business relationship.

On 17 October 2006, the complainant made a complaint to the Law Society against the Respondent.

The proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee

Before the Disciplinary Committee, there were initially three charges brought against the Respondent. The third charge related to the complainant’s claim that he gave the Respondent a sum of $20,000 to incorporate a company in Dubai, but that the money was not returned to him when he told the Respondent that he had decided not to incorporate the company after all. At the end of the hearing, the Disciplinary Committee held that the third charge was not made out (see the Report at [48]–[49]).

For our purposes, therefore, we will be focussing only on those parts of the proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee relevant to the present charges against the Respondent (see above at [2]). As already noted, the Respondent faced two charges for preparing two court judgments purportedly issued by the Subordinate Courts which he knew were false.

The complainant’s evidence

The complainant alleged that he had instructed the Respondent to act for him in pursuing two claims. For the first claim, the complainant instructed the Respondent to re-open the file concerning JCV Consultants’ claim against Nortel Networks Pte Ltd. For the second claim, the complainant instructed the Respondent to represent RJ Crocker (which he was a director and shareholder of) against Singapore Agro Agricultural Pte Ltd. Subsequently, the Respondent informed the complainant that he obtained judgments in his favour for both actions (in DC Suit Nos 133418 and 133553 of 2005, respectively). The Respondent then gave him copies of the two judgments. In reality, no such judgments were issued by the Subordinate Courts.

The Respondent’s evidence

The Respondent did not dispute that he had produced the two “judgments” purportedly issued by the Subordinate Courts, which he knew were false. However, the Respondent claimed that he was not acting in the capacity of an advocate and solicitor for the complainant; that the complainant knew that the “judgments” were not real; that the judgments were stamped with the word “DRAFT”; that they were produced at the request of the complainant as part of a “wife placation exercise”; and that he had never intended to represent such documents as genuine court documents.

The Respondent stated that he and the complainant were friends and business partners, and that the complainant had confided in him about his marital problems. The complainant’s marital problems stemmed from his affair with a lounge hostess who absconded with $150,000 of his wife’s money. As a result of this incident, the complainant owed his wife $150,000. Since then, the complainant’s wife had harassed the complainant and restricted his expenses.

We turn now to consider the “wife placation exercise” proper. According to the Respondent, the complainant had sought the assistance of the Respondent to ameliorate the situation with his wife. The complainant requested, and the Respondent agreed to lend money to the complainant, in order that the complainant would be able to repay the money owed by him to his wife. The complainant subsequently requested that the Respondent produce court “judgments” so that the complainant could show his wife that monies were forthcoming. The Respondent again agreed and duly produced the “judgments”. These “judgments” resembled actual court judgments and even bore the “signature” of the Deputy Registrar of the Subordinate Courts. Having created these “judgments”, the Respondent was, however, concerned that they might be used to mislead third parties (other than the complainant’s wife). Therefore, the Respondent stamped the word “DRAFT” on them. The Respondent then gave to the complainant photocopies of the “judgments” and left it to the complainant to decide what to do with them.

Thus, the production of the two “judgments”, as explained by the Respondent, was part of a “wife placation exercise” to make the complainant’s wife believe that the complainant would be receiving money from his legal actions so as to alleviate the harassment by his wife. The Respondent claimed that he acted as a friend and out of care and concern for the complainant’s well-being.

The findings of the Disciplinary Committee

After hearing the evidence of the complainant and Respondent, the Disciplinary Committee was of the view that the complainant was not a witness of truth, and that he “was very evasive during cross-examination, and was found lying at numerous parts of his evidence” (see the Report at [37]). Instead, the Disciplinary Committee accepted the Respondent’s evidence, finding that “the Respondent was trying to help [the complainant] to continue his business activities without any interference from his wife” (see the Report at...

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1 cases
  • Law Society of Singapore v Ng Bock Hoh Dixon
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 9 November 2011
    ...Law Society of Singapore v Low Yong Sen [2009] 1 SLR (R) 802; [2009] 1 SLR 802 (refd) Law Society of Singapore v Ng Bock Hoh Dixon [2010] 2 SLR 1000 (refd) Law Society of Singapore v Ng Chee Sing [2000] 1 SLR (R) 466; [2000] 2 SLR 165 (refd) Law Society of Singapore v Nor'ain bte Abu Bakar ......
1 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2010, December 2010
    • 1 December 2010
    ...conduct - A second case 20.14 In the second case involving unbefitting conduct, Law Society of Singapore v Ng Bock Hoh Dixon [2010] 2 SLR 1000 (‘Ng Bock Hoh Dixon’), the respondent was charged with unbefitting conduct in that he prepared false court documents (which purported to be draft ju......

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