Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh v AG

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date15 Mar 2013
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 107 of 2013

[2013] SGHC 62

High Court

Vinodh Coomaraswamy JC

Originating Summons No 107 of 2013

Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh and another
Plaintiff
and
Attorney-General
Defendant

The applicants in person

Low Siew Ling and Khoo Boo Jin (Attorney-General

's Chambers) for the respondent;

P E Ashokan for the Law Society of Singapore (watching brief).

Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corp [1948] 1 KB 223 (refd)

Chan Hiang Leng Colin v Minister for Information and the Arts [1996] 1 SLR (R) 294; [1996] 1 SLR 609 (refd)

Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1985] AC 374 (refd)

El Farargy v El Farargy [2007] EWCA Civ 1149 (refd)

IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd [1982] AC 617 (refd)

Jeyaretnam Joshua Benjamin v Lee Kuan Yew [1992] 1 SLR (R) 791; [1992] 2 SLR 310 (refd)

Jeyaretnam Kenneth Andrew v AG [2013] 1 SLR 619 (refd)

Kang Ngah Wei v Commander of Traffic Police [2002] 1 SLR (R) 14; [2002] 1 SLR 213 (refd)

Law Society of Singapore v Ahmad Khalis bin Abdul Ghani [2006] 4 SLR (R) 308; [2006] 4 SLR 308 (refd)

Lee Hsien Loong v Review Publishing Co Ltd [2007] 2 SLR (R) 453; [2007] 2 SLR 453 (folld)

Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2011] 4 SLR 156 (refd)

Lim Mey Lee Susan v Singapore Medical Council [2012] 1 SLR 701 (refd)

Lines International Holding (S) Pte Ltd v Singapore Tourist Promotion Board [1997] 1 SLR (R) 52; [1997] 2 SLR 584 (refd)

Locabail (UK) Ltd v Bayfield Properties Ltd [2000] QB 451 (refd)

Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh, Re [2012] 4 SLR 81 (not folld)

Public Service Commission v Lai Swee Lin Linda [2001] 1 SLR (R) 133; [2001] 1 SLR 644 (folld)

R v West Midlands and North West Mental Health Review Tribunal [2004] EWCA Civ 311 (refd)

Ridge v Baldwin [1964] AC 40 (refd)

Shan Rajagopal, Re [1994] 2 SLR (R) 60; [1994] 3 SLR 524 (folld)

Shankar Alan s/o Anant Kulkarni, Re [2007] 1 SLR (R) 85; [2007] 1 SLR 85 (folld)

Tang Liang Hong v Lee Kuan Yew [1997] 3 SLR (R) 576; [1998] 1 SLR 97 (refd)

Vellama d/o Marie Muthu v AG [2012] 4 SLR 698 (refd)

Yong Vui Kong v AG [2011] 2 SLR 1189 (refd)

Accountants Act (Cap 2, 2005 Rev Ed) ss 48 (5) , 49 (5)

Architects Act (Cap 12, 2000 Rev Ed) ss 31 C (1) , 31C (6)

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1985 Rev Ed, 1999 Reprint) Art 97, First Schedule para 6

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) ss 90 (3) (a) , 91 A (consd) ; ss 85 (1) , 85 (1A) , 85 (6) , 85 (8) , 85 (10) , 86 (7) (a) , 87 (2) (a) , 89 (1) , 90 (1) , 97, 98

Medical Registration Act (Cap 174, 2004 Rev Ed) ss 50 (1) , 50 (5)

Professional Engineers Act (Cap 253, 1992 Rev Ed) ss 27 (1) , 27 (3)

Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2006 Rev Ed) O 53, O 53 r 1, O 53 r 1 (2) , O 53 r 4, O 53 r 2 (1)

Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 2007 Rev Ed) s 34 (2) (d) , Fifth Schedule

Work Injury Compensation (Medical Board) Regulations (Cap 354, Rg 6, 2010 Rev Ed) regs 5 (1) , 5 (2)

Administrative Law—Administrative powers—Nature of Chief Justice's power to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal under s 90 (3) (a)Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)—Section 90 (3) (a)Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Disciplinary proceedings—Chief Justice's power to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal under s 90 (3) (a)Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)—Request by advocate and solicitor undergoing disciplinary proceedings for Chief Justice to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal on ground of withdrawal of complaint of professional misconduct which gave rise to disciplinary proceedings—Whether Chief Justice obliged to revoke when request was supported by some material and there was no contrary material supporting decision not to revoke—Whether Chief Justice under any procedural obligations when declining to revoke or declining even to make a decision as to whether or not to revoke—Section 90 (3) (a)Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Judicial review—Irrationality—Chief Justice's power to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal under s 90 (3) (a) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)—Chief Justice's refusal to revoke—Whether such refusal might be quashed for being irrational—Section 90 (3) (a) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)

Administrative Law—Remedies—Mandamus—Request by advocate and solicitor undergoing disciplinary proceedings for Chief Justice to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal—Application for mandamus compelling Chief Justice to respond to request—Chief Justice responding after advocate and solicitor applied for mandamus—Whether Chief Justice's subsequent response rendered application for mandamus superfluous—Whether Chief Justice was obliged to respond to request within reasonable time or at all

Legal Profession—Disciplinary proceedings—Application by advocate and solicitor for High Court to stay proceedings before Disciplinary Tribunal pending appeal against High Court decision—Whether s 91 A Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) precluded grant of stay—Section 91 A Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)

Legal Profession—Disciplinary proceedings—Disciplinary scheme under the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)—Chief Justice's power to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal under s 90 (3) (a) Legal Profession Act—Request by advocate and solicitor undergoing disciplinary proceedings for Chief Justice to revoke appointment of Disciplinary Tribunal on ground of withdrawal of complaint of professional misconduct which gave rise to disciplinary proceedings—Whether Chief Justice obliged to revoke when request was supported by material and there was no contrary material supporting decision not to revoke—Whether Chief Justice under any procedural obligations when declining to revoke or declining even to make decision as to whether or not to revoke—Section 90 (3) (a) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed)

Legal Profession—Disciplinary proceedings—Withdrawal of complaint of professional misconduct against advocate and solicitor—Whether withdrawal of complaint brought disciplinary proceedings to automatic end

The applicants were two advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Singapore. A former client made a complaint of professional misconduct against them in December 2010. A Disciplinary Tribunal (‘the DT’) was appointed in February 2012 to hear and investigate the matter. On 23 November 2012, the complainant unreservedly withdrew the complaint. At a directions hearing before the DT on 3 January 2013, the Law Society of Singapore (‘the Law Society’) indicated that it intended to continue the disciplinary proceedings before the DT. On that footing, the DT proceeded to fix dates for the hearing of the matter before it.

Beginning 11 January 2013, the applicants wrote a number of letters to the Chief Justice in which they apprised him of the withdrawal of the complaint against them and asked that he exercise his power to revoke the appointment of the DT under s 90 (3) (a) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) (‘the Act’). At 11.10am on 4 February 2013, before the Chief Justice replied, the applicants filed the present application, Originating Summons No 107 of 2013 (‘OS 107/2013’). By this application, the applicants sought leave under O 53 r 1 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2006 Rev Ed) to apply for inter alia: first, an order compelling the Chief Justice to exercise his power under s 90 (3) (a), ie,to respond one way or the other to their requests; and second, an order compelling the Chief Justice to revoke the appointment of the DT, ie, to respond to their requests in a particular way. At 4.15pm on the same day, 4 February 2013, the applicants received a letter from the DT Secretariat conveying the Chief Justice's view that the proceedings before the DT ‘should take their course’.

The DT commenced the disciplinary hearing on 13 February 2013. The applicants withdrew from that hearing and went before the duty judge of the High Court and obtained a stay of the DT proceedings pending the hearing of OS 107/2013 on 18 February 2013. Between 13 and 18 February 2013, the applicants wrote a number of further letters to the Chief Justice, again urging him to revoke the appointment of the DT. On 15 February 2013, the applicants received a letter from the DT Secretariat informing them that the Chief Justice was not revoking the appointment of the DT.

During the hearing of OS 107/2013 in chambers on 18 February 2013, two preliminary matters arose. First, the Law Society, a non-party to OS 107/2013, applied to attend the hearing on a watching brief. Second, the applicants applied for the judge hearing OS 107/2013 to recuse himself on grounds of apparentbias.

During the hearing, it was also pointed out that, although OS 107/2013 was filed on the basis that the Chief Justice had not responded to the applicants' letters, the Chief Justice had since responded, on 4 and 15 February 2013 through the DT Secretariat, by refusing to revoke the appointment of the DT. As a consequence, the applicants sought and were granted leave to amend OS 107/2013 to include an additional head of relief in the alternative, viz, an order quashing the Chief Justice's decision not to revoke the appointment of the DT.

A final matter arose following the dismissal of OS 107/2013, as the applicants sought a stay of the DT proceedings pending their appeal against the dismissal of OS 107/2013.

Held, dismissing the application:

(1) On the first preliminary matter, even though a non-party had no entitlement to attend a hearing in chambers, the court had an inherent discretion to allow a non-party who could establish sufficient interest in the proceedings to attend. Nothing in O 53 of the Rules of Court excluded that discretion in the context of an application under O 53 r 1. Further, the applicants could...

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14 cases
  • Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh v AG
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 14 March 2013
  • Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh v AG
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 19 August 2013
    ...Court, the Judicial Commissioner preferred the test of potential arguability (see [93] and [95] of Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh v AG[2013] 2 SLR 1108). We make no finding on this issue except in so far as to say that whether the test is one of potential arguability or that of a prima facie......
  • TOV v TOW
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • 26 May 2016
    ...[1997] SGCA 52; Re Shankar Alan s/o Anand Kulkarni [2006] SGHC 194; and Manjit Singh s/or Kirpal Singh and another v Attorney-General [2013] SGHC 62.) In the UK, since the decision of the House of Lords in R v Gough [1993] AC 646, a slightly different, more stringent test has been applied, ......
  • Deepak Sharma v Law Society of Singapore
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 May 2016
    ...withdraws the complaint, no matter how voluntarily or unreservedly (Manjit Singh s/o Kirpal Singh and another v Attorney-General [2013] 2 SLR 1108 (“Manjit Singh (HC)”) at [100]). In Manjit Singh (HC), Vinodh Coomaraswamy JC held at [101]: … The Law Society prefers charges against an advoca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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