Majid v Muthuswamy

CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan Ah Tah FJ
Judgment Date13 August 1968
Neutral Citation[1968] SGFC 11
Citation[1968] SGFC 11
Defendant CounselLAJ Smith,G Starforth Hill as amicus curiae
Plaintiff CounselNN Leicester
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No Y44 of 1967
Date13 August 1968
Subject MatterFused profession,Professional conduct,Liability for professional negligence as solicitor but not as advocate,Legal Profession

The claim is for damages for negligence on the part of a deceased solicitor by a client in relation to three court proceedings but in respect of two of the three court proceedings, it is clear they disclose no cause of action because the statement of claim not only does not allege that the deceased solicitor was the solicitor of the present plaintiff in those two actions but clearly states that the deceased solicitor was appearing in those two actions as solicitor for a trade union, namely, the Malayan National Seamen`s Union. As regards the third proceedings, namely, the bankruptcy petition, which resulted in the plaintiff being adjudicated a bankrupt, the statement of claim discloses, on the face of it, no allegation of negligence on the part of the solicitor concerned.

An attempt was made to amend the pleadings when we were dealing with this matter on appeal, and the draft prepared and submitted in support of the application clearly discloses that it would be an abuse of the process of the court to allow those portions of the statement of claim with the proposed amendments which relate to the bankruptcy proceedings to stand and in those circumstances the appeal must fail.

The important matter which we would have to consider, assuming that the statement of claim does disclose a cause of action for professional negligence, is whether an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Singapore when conducting a case can be successfully sued for professional negligence.
The case of Rondel v Worsley [1967] 3 All ER 993 (HL) decided in the House of Lords has held that on grounds of public policy, a barrister in England is not liable for negligence, so long as the negligence alleged, arises during his conduct of a case.

There are dicta in that House which indicate that the same considerations would apply so far as solicitors are concerned in England.
Without finally deciding the question, we are at present inclined to the view that the same considerations of public policy apply in Singapore and that therefore the decision in Rondel `scase would apply in Singapore too.

The profession is a fused one here, and having regard to the reasons given by the Law Lords in Rondel `scase, which we would respectfully agree with, we think

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2 cases
  • Guan Ming Hardware & Engineering Pte Ltd v Chong Yeo & Partners and Another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 29 June 1996
    ......In Singapore, the immunity laid down in Rondel v Worsley has been accepted to apply. In Majid v Muthuswamy [1968] 2 MLJ 89 , an appeal to the Federal Court in Singapore, claims were made against a deceased solicitor in relation to three ......
  • Guan Ming Hardware & Engineering Pte Ltd v Chong Yeo & Partners and Another
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 26 May 1997
    ...Lamb v Camden London Borough Council [1981] QB 625 (refd) Levy v Spyers (1865) 1 F & F 5n; 175 ER 599 (refd) Majid v Muthuswamy [1968-1970] SLR (R) 229; [1965-1968] SLR 325 (refd) Oropesa, The [1943] P 32; [1943] 1 All ER 211 (refd) Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v The Miller Steamship Co Pty [......

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