Ong Jane Rebecca v Lim Lie Hoa and Others

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChoo Han Teck JC
Judgment Date23 April 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGHC 80
Citation[2002] SGHC 80
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 939 of 1991
Date29 October 2002
Plaintiff CounselKannan Ramesh and Christina Choo (Tan Kok Quan Partnership)
Published date19 September 2003
Defendant CounselDevinder K Rai (Acies Law Corp),Arul Chandran and Ooi Oon Tat (C Arul & Partners)

(Inquiry pursuant to Judgment dated 16 July 1996)

Citation: OS No 939 of 1991
Jurisdiction: Singapore
Date: 2002:04:19; 2002:04:12; 2002:04:11
Court: High Court
Coram: Choo Han Teck, JC
Counsel:

Plaintiff in person

Kannan Ramesh and Christina Choo (Tan Kok Quan Partnership) for the First Defendant & Third Party
Arul Chandran and Ooi Oon Tat (C. Arul & Partners) for the Second Defendant
Devinder K Rai (Acies Law Corporation) for the Third & Fourth Defendant

HEADNOTES

Legal Profession – solicitors cannot take a neutral position where allegations made by other solicitor of conflict of interest the court can only make a ruling of conflict of interest after a full inquiry and not in proceedings for the discharge of a solicitor

Facts

This was an application by Tan Kok Quan Partnership to be discharged from acting as solicitors for the first defendant. The application followed a letter from solicitor for the second defendant taking the view that Tan Kok Quan Partnership, having acted as co-administrator for the first defendant’s late husband’s estate, may be in breach of rule 29 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules. At the resumed hearing, the applicant submitted that although he disputes the allegations of conflict of interests, his firm could not, in the meantime, continue to act without a resolution of the allegations.

Held

A solicitor is entitled to caution his counterpart when he believes that a conflict of interest situation looms in the distance. Whether or not the solicitor concerned agrees with that perception, he must decide whether he is comfortable in continuing so to act. If he decides to continue acting for the client he must be prepared to justify his conduct if necessary. The question as to whether he is right or not may only be determined after a full inquiry; but this court, at this juncture, is not the proper forum to conduct such an inquiry. Following the applicant firm’s statement that the firm could not continue to act without a resolution of the allegations, the application was allowed.

(Application for Discharge)

GROUNDS OF DECISION

1. This was an application by Tan Kok Quan Partnership as solicitors for the first defendant (Lim Lie Hoa) for an order declaring that Tan Kok Quan Partnership has ceased acting for the first defendant, and for the provision of costs although the prayer ought more accurately be for leave to be discharged as solicitors for the first defendant. The application was taken out on 8 April 2002. From the outset, it was a...

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22 cases
3 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2002, December 2002
    • 1 December 2002
    ...QC[2002] 4 SLR 929. Discharge and obligation of confidence to another client 18.13 In the year of review, Ong Jane Rebecca v Lim Lie Hoa[2002] 2 SLR 493 was an unusual civil case in which the objection to representation based on a real risk of disclosure of confidential information imparted......
  • Civil Procedure
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2003, December 2003
    • 1 December 2003
    ...In the premises, there was solid evidence indicating a real risk of dissipation. Subpoenas 6.55 In Ong Jane Rebecca v Lim Lie Hoa[2003] 1 SLR 457, the High Court dealt with an application to set aside a subpoena ad testificandum and a subpoena duces tecum which had been served on a partner ......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2005, December 2005
    • 1 December 2005
    ...the defendant”s representation of the bank. However, according to an earlier decision of Choo J, namely Ong Jane Rebecca v Lim Lie Hoa[2002] 2 SLR 493 (see ‘Legal Profession’(2002) 3 SAL Ann Rev 324 at para 18.13) the defendant may (if not, must) take the Bolkiah (supra para 18.6) objection......

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