Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh v Law Society of Singapore

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date12 November 2010
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 472 of 2010
Date12 November 2010
Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh
Plaintiff
and
Law Society of Singapore
Defendant

[2010] SGHC 336

Chao Hick Tin JA, Andrew Phang Boon Leong JA and V K Rajah JA

Originating Summons No 472 of 2010

High Court

Legal Profession–Admission–Restoration to roll of advocates and solicitors–Application struck off–Fourteen years since striking off order–Applicant previously convicted on charges of corruption and criminal breach of trust–Whether applicant fully rehabilitated–Whether reinstatement would diminish public confidence in reputation and standing of legal profession–Redemption–Section 102 Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed)

The applicant was struck off the roll of advocates and solicitor on 1 December 1995 after being convicted on three charges of corruption and one charge of criminal breach of trust. On 3 April 2001, his first application for reinstatement was rejected. After 14 years since his striking off, he filed his second application for reinstatement. It was argued that an adequate period of time had lapsed since the applicant's striking off, that the applicant had been completely repentant, and that the applicant's reinstatement would neither endanger the public nor diminish public confidence in the general reputation and standing of the legal profession. The Law Society of Singapore and the Attorney-General did not object to the application.

Held, allowing the application:

(1) The applicant had reformed and was unlikely to pose a danger or a risk to the public if he were to be again accorded a position of trust upon reinstatement. Post striking off he was employed by three successive companies who believed in him and entrusted him with financial responsibilities. The applicant lived up to the high standard expected of him and exhibited qualities of honesty and integrity. The testimonials given by these employers were unanimous in their praise for the applicant and all of them vouched for the applicant's honesty, responsibility, trustworthiness and integrity: at [15], [16] and [18].

(2) The applicant's reinstatement would also not diminish public confidence in the reputation and standing of the legal profession. By any standard, 20 years since the date of the wrongdoing (or 14 years from the date of striking off) could not be said to be an insignificant period in the life of an individual. The applicant had paid for the wrongs he had done under both ordinary criminal law and the disciplinary rules of the profession. Punishment should not be the sole value of society. Redemption should also have a part to play. A balance had to be struck. In this case, as a substantial period of time had lapsed since the applicant's striking off and since he had shown remarkable rehabilitation, there was correspondingly a lesser need for the court to exercise its protective role. In turn, it was consistent for the court to exercise its redemptive role: at [19], [22] and [23].

[Observation: In every case of reinstatement, the court had to resolve the tension between the protective and redemptive elements of public interest. While the redemptive element was essential, and had to be considered in all cases, the weight to be given to this element had to differ from case to case. For example, the longer the period of disbarment, or the lesser the severity of the offences committed, the greater would be the weight the redemption element would be accorded in the mind of this court: at [23].]

Chan Chow Wang, Re [1983-1984] SLR (R) 55; [1982-1983] SLR 413 (refd)

Gnaguru s/o Thamboo Mylvaganam v Law Society of Singapore [2008] 3 SLR (R) 1; [2008] 3 SLR 1 (refd)

Kalpanath Singh s/o Ram Raj Singh v Law Society of Singapore [2009] 4 SLR (R) 1018; [2009] 4 SLR 1018 (refd)

Knight Glenn Jeyasingam v Law Society of Singapore [2007] 3 SLR (R) 704; [2007] 3 SLR 704 (refd)

Lim Cheng Peng, Re [1987] SLR (R) 582; [1987] SLR 486 (refd)

Narindar Singh Kang v Law Society of Singapore [2007] 4 SLR (R) 641; [2007] 4 SLR 641 (refd)

Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh, Re [2001] 2 SLR (R) 494; [2001] 3 SLR 608 (refd)

Ram Kishan, Re [1992] 1 SLR (R) 260; [1992] 1 SLR 529 (refd)

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161,2001 Rev Ed) ss 83 (1) , 102,102 (1)

Penal Code (Cap 224,1985 Rev Ed)

Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed)

Davinder Singh SC, Pardeep Singh Khosa and Nabil Mustafiz (Drew & Napier LLC) for the applicant

N Sreenivasan (Straits Law Practice LLC) for the respondent

Ching Sann (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Chao Hick Tin JA

(delivering the grounds of decision of the court):

Introduction

1 This was an application by Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh ( the applicant ) to have his name restored onto the roll of advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Singapore ( the Roll ) pursuant to s 102 (1) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) ( LPA ). The applicant was 56 years old and this application was his second since he was struck off the Roll in 1995. We allowed his application and we now give our reasons.

Facts leading up to striking off

2 The applicant joined the Singapore Police Force ( SPF ) in 1977 and served as an officer for more than 11 years. While serving as a Police Officer, he made profitable use of his spare time to read for an external law degree from the University of London. Through determination and hard work, he obtained his degree in 1982. Eventually, he was called to the English Bar. He left the SPF in 1989 and was admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore on 8 November 1989. He began his career as a legal assistant in the firm of Amarjit, Rubin & Partners. He then joined Assomull, Pereira & Partners, before moving to the firm of Gurdaib, Cheong & Narmal where he became a partner in July 1993.

3 On 3 September 1993, the applicant was convicted of three charges of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed) ( PCA ) and one charge of criminal breach of trust ( CBT ) under the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed). The applicant was found to have corruptly offered gratification of $3,000 to a police officer as an inducement for letting his client off from police investigations into several housebreaking offences. In the process, the court also found that the applicant corruptly solicited and received gratification of $3,000 from his client for his assistance. These three acts formed the basis of the three corruption convictions. As for the CBT charge, the court found that the applicant misappropriated an amount of $500 belonging to his firm, Assomull, Pereira & Partners. In total, the applicant was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment and fined a sum of $5,000. He paid the fine, served the term of imprisonment, and was released, with the appropriate remission for good conduct, on 19 October 1994.

4 After the applicant's release, a Disciplinary Committee of the Law Society of Singapore ( the Law Society ) was appointed to investigate the applicant's conduct pertaining to his criminal convictions. The applicant admitted to the professional misconduct charges, and the Disciplinary Committee found that sufficient cause existed for disciplinary action to be taken against him. The...

To continue reading

Request your trial
4 cases
  • Narindar Singh Kang v Law Society of Singapore [Court of Three Judges]
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 30 September 2013
    ...SLR 641 (refd) Nathan Edmund v Law Society of Singapore [2013] 1 SLR 719 (distd) Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh v Law Society of Singapore [2011] 1 SLR 645 (refd) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1994 Rev Ed) ss 83, 94 A Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) ss 78 (1) , 102 (1) Penal Code......
  • Nathan Edmund v Law Society of Singapore
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 November 2012
    ...Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh, Re [2001] 2 SLR (R) 494; [2001] 3 SLR 608 (refd) Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh v Law Society of Singapore [2011] 1 SLR 645 (refd) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1994 Rev Ed) ss 83, 86, 94 A (1) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) s 78 (1) (a) Legal Profe......
  • Narindar Singh Kang v Law Society of Singapore
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 30 September 2013
    ...his misconduct as well as for his rehabilitation. For comparison, he referred to Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh v Law Society of Singapore [2010] SGHC 336 (“Nirmal Singh”) where the applicant successfully obtained reinstatement after 14 years and 5 months, notwithstanding that he had been con......
  • Choy Chee Yean v Law Society of Singapore and another
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 19 November 2019
    ...the public might entertain as to the honesty or integrity of the applicant” (see Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh v Law Society of Singapore [2011] 1 SLR 645 at [25]). The third and fourth The third and fourth conditions both deal with the operation of trust account and client monies, and shoul......
1 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2011, December 2011
    • 1 December 2011
    ...to supervise withdrawals from the account. Restoration to the roll 20.25 In Nirmal Singh s/o Fauja Singh v Law Society of Singapore[2011] SLR 645 (Nirmal Singh), one can find, amidst a clearer and more cohesive enunciation of the principles of reinstatement, strong exhortations in effect to......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT