Re An Advocate and Solicitor

JudgeT S Sinnathuray J
Judgment Date29 October 1984
Neutral Citation[1985] SGHC 40
Date29 October 1986
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 34 of 1985,Originating Motion No 58 of 1984
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselCS Wu
Citation[1985] SGHC 40
Defendant CounselJeffrey Chan Wah Teck (Deputy Senior State Counsel),Anthony Hidden QC and TQ Lim
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterAdministrative Law,Remedies,Whether Law Society disciplinary committee must investigate all charges,Whether Law Society had locus standi to apply for mandamus,Whether disciplinary committee must investigate all charges,r 10 Advocates and Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 1963,Tampering with witness,Disciplinary procedures,Composition of other tax offences,Mandamus,Advocate and solicitor convicted of income tax offence,Judicial review,ss 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 & 93 Legal Profession Act (Cap 217),Locus standi,Application for mandamus directing Disciplinary Committee to hear and investigate all six charges formulated by Law Society,Inquiry committee's report,Legal Profession,Disciplinary committee deleting certain paragraphs in statement of case of Law Society,Whether Law Society had locus standi to apply for mandamus to require Disciplinary Committee to investigate all six charges formulated by Law Society

I adopt the opening words of Cockburn CJ in R v Carden (1879) 5 QBD 1: `This is a case of some importance, but it is, in my opinion, so clear that [I] need not hesitate to give judgment at once ...`. In this application the Council of the Law Society of Singapore applies that (1) an order of mandamus be issued directing `the disciplinary committee appointed by The Honourable The Chief Justice by a formal instrument of appointment dated 28 October 1983 to hear and investigate all the six charges formulated by The Council of the Law Society against Lim Chor Pee, an Advocate and Solicitor, as set out in the Law Society`s letter to the said Lim Chor Pee dated 15 October 1983 pursuant to s 88(2) of The Legal Profession Act Cap 217, and as specified in the Council`s Statement of the Case dated 13 March 1984`; and (2) that an order be made setting aside the order of the disciplinary committee made on 31 July 1984 deleting paras 6, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 15 of the Council`s statement of the case.

That the Council had to make this application to the High Court to obtain an order, for the disciplinary committee to do its duty which it had failed to carry out under the Legal Profession Act, is a matter that I view with some concern.
That the application should have been necessary is to use the words of Cockburn CJ again `of a startling nature`. The Council was compelled to make this application. It was a necessary application. It could have been avoided by the disciplinary committee.

Now, I narrate the events in chronological order.
In dealing with the facts, I shall refer to the material provisions of the Legal Profession Act (the Act) as they have to be tied in to the facts. Considered together, the facts and the law confirm the views I have just expressed.

I start at the beginning.
There is a letter from the Attorney General dated 16 July 1982 addressed to the President of the Law Society. I shall read the letter.

Dear Sir


Lim Chor Pee

As it is likely that you will be inquiring into the conduct of Lim Chor Pee, I forward herewith the statement of facts that were tendered in court at the trial and the district judge`s comments prior to his passing sentence (Annex A). It contains facts and figures pertaining to his conviction and composition in respect of other offences. I also forward herewith a copy of a report of Keith Tay annexed as `B`, which explains these matters. It would also explain the reasons for the district judge`s comments.

In the course of the trial it also became apparent that Lim Chor Pee `tampered` with a member of the firm of Coopers & Lybrand in an attempt to conceal the existence in late 1980 of a Chor Pee & Hin Hiong file. This file was in respect of a debenture and mortgage for which a fee was charged by Lim Chor Pee. This fee was omitted from the returns of the firm of Chor Pee & Hin Hiong and formed the subject matter of the charge which he was convicted upon. A report on this matter is annexed as `C`.

I would be glad to assist you on these matters if you find it necessary.

Yours faithfully

Sgd Glenn J Knight

for Attorney General

Together with this letter are the annexures referred to in the letter.

What information did the Attorney General give to the Law Society in his letter and annexures?
(1) He gave facts pertaining to the conviction of Lim Chor Pee of an income tax offence in one summons. The details are in the statement of facts in one of the annexures; there is also in another annexure the reasons of the learned district judge in assessing the appropriate sentence in respect of the charge to which Lim Chor Pee had pleaded guilty and was convicted. (2) The Attorney General gave facts and figures pertaining to Lim Chor Pee`s composition in respect of four other income tax offences. Considerable material relating to these other offences are in the report of Keith Tay which is in annexure B (3) Facts and figures subsequently discovered and not included in the summonses are also referred to in that annexure B (4) Facts relating to the tampering with the evidence.

It appears from the record of proceedings before the disciplinary committee that the Council of the Law Society did not take action on this letter.
(See p 83 of the affidavit of Mr Wu.) The letter from the Attorney General`s Chambers was dated 16 July 1982. No written order followed upon that letter. Here I refer to the section pursuant to which the Attorney General wrote to the Council. It is s 86(2) of the Act, the relevant portion of which reads:

... the Attorney General may at any time refer to the Society any information touching upon the conduct of a solicitor in his professional capacity and the Council shall issue a written order to the inquiry committee.

Be that as it may, on 2 March 1983 about eight months later, the Attorney General sent a second letter to the President of the Law Society.
Again, I will read this letter.

Dear Sir

Information forwarded under the provisions of s 86(2) of the Legal Profession Act (ch 217) concerning the conduct of Lim Chor Pee, an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore

I have been directed by the Attorney General to refer to the Society information concerning the conduct of Lim Chor pee under the provisions of s 86(2) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 217) in respect of the following matters.

2 In connection with investigations conducted by the Commercial Crimes Divisions, CID, and the prosecution that followed under the Income Tax Act, the following were disclosed:

Lim Chor Pee had in manipulating the accounts of the firm of Chor Pee & Hin Hiong, in particular the Disbursements Account sought and succeeded in fraudulently evading the payment of tax. The specific allegations of fraud are contained in a report by Keith Tay, a partner of the firm of Peat Marwick & Mitchell, a copy of which is already with you. The Report specifically avers to -

(a) The falsifying of ledger pages of the Disbursement and other accounts relating to fee income received by the firm of Chor Pee & Hin Hiong for work done in respect of loan agreements entered into by International Holdings, Cho Jock Kim and Banque National De Paris et des Pays Bas (BNP). (Please see the report at pp 7-10). This was done to conceal the fact that the income was not reported to the Comptroller but was expended instead by Lim Chor Pee and Khoo Hin Hiong for personal expenses.

(b) Lim Chor Pee requesting his former accounts clerk` Jeannie Yim, to falsify books of account to cover up the transfer of income to Hong Kong. This was done to assist Khoo Hin Hiong to defraud the tax authorities. (See pp 6 and 7 of the Report).

These two matters were covered by Income Tax Summonses No 50002/80 and 51001-51004/81. They were not withdrawn but were compounded at three times the penalty, the same penalties applicable if Lim Chor Pee was convicted under s 96 of the Income Tax Act which makes it an offence to defraud the tax authorities.

(c) Lim Chor Pee transferring fee income to separate ledger accounts to enable personal expenses to be paid from them. Also falsifying the ledgers to cover this. This was done to evade payment of tax on this income and was intended to defraud the tax authorities. This was done in some cases by diverting a percentage of the fee income earned to a travel account and deducting personal and travel expenses of his family. See p 10 para (4) of the Report.

3 The district judge when sentencing Lim Chor Pee referred to the manipulations of the accounts of the firm by Lim Chor Pee. This was based on evidence led at the trial which included evidence of summonses referred to in para 2.

4 Lim Chor Pee had also in the course of the trial into the Income Tax offences tampered with a prosecution witness. A Report by the Accountant of the Commercial Crimes Division on this matter has already been sent to you.

Yours faithfully

sgd Glenn J Knight

for Attorney General


It was after the Council had received this letter, about four months later, on 4 July 1983, that the then President of the Law Society made an order under s 86(2) of the Act which as I have said provides that the Council shall issue a written order to the inquiry committee.
For completeness, I will read that order as well.

4 July 1983

Order under s 86(2) of the Legal Profession Act (ch 217)


by letter dated 2 March 1983, the Attorney General has referred to the Law Society of Singapore information touching on the conduct of Mr Lim Chor Pee, a solicitor in his professional capacity.

AND WHEREAS the Council has considered the said letter and resolved to issue an order.

NOW THE COUNCIL pursuant to the provisions of s 86(2) of the Legal Profession Act hereby orders that the inquiry committee do inquire into and investigate the matter and report to the Council thereon.

Dated this 4 July 1983



The order was addressed to the members of the inquiry committee constituted under s 85 of the Act.
At that time there were nine of them and their respective names are stated in that order.

Following on the making of the order, in compliance with s 87(5) of the Act, the chairman of the inquiry committee, Mr CC Tan, addressed a letter to Mr Lim Chor Pee dated 5 July I need not refer to this letter because it is not in dispute in these proceedings that proper notice of hearing had been given to Lim Chor Pee in compliance with s 87(5).

The inquiry committee then commenced its hearing into the matter.
What it was required to do is provided in s 87(1) of the Act, the relevant part of which reads:

Where the inquiry committee has received a written order ... it shall within two weeks commence its inquiry into the matter and report its findings to the Council ... not later than two months after the commencement of

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