Re Beloff Michael Jacob QC

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date05 May 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGHC 79
Docket NumberOriginating Motion No 6 of 2000
Date05 May 2000
Published date19 September 2003
Year2000
Plaintiff CounselTan Chuan Thye (Allen & Gledhill),Margaret George (Koh Ong & Partners)
Citation[2000] SGHC 79
Defendant CounselJocelyn Ong (Attorney General's Chambers),Laurence Goh (Laurence Goh Eng Yau & Co)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterDelay in proceedings as a result of admission of Queen's Counsel,Legal Profession,Whether defendants precluded from seeking admission of Queen's Counsel,Whether availability and ability of local counsel an absolute bar to admission,Applicant to satisfy three-stage test for admission,Whether circumstances of case warrant court's exercise of discretion in favour of admission,Application for admission by Queen's Counsel,Admission,s 21 Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1997 Rev Ed),Defendants already engaging local Senior Counsel

: Introduction

The applicant in this case, Mr Michael Jacob Beloff, Queen`s Counsel (`Mr Beloff`), applied under s 21 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161) (the `LPA`), to be admitted to practice as an advocate and solicitor for Singapore Telecommunications Limited (`SingTel`) in Suit 1454/99 (the `suit`), and in connection with all proceedings relating thereto.
The application was opposed by Japura Development Pte Ltd. I allowed the motion for admission. I now set forth my reasons.

Background facts of Suit 1454/99

The plaintiff in the suit is Japura Development Pte Ltd (`Japura`). SingTel is the defendant. Japura claimed that a telecommunications plant (`the plant`), which was laid in 1978 by the former Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (`TAS`), and which became vested in SingTel on 1 April 1992, is trespassing on its land (the `land`). Japura had acquired the land from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (`URA`) and they intend to build on it a prestigious residential complex, namely, the Costa Del Sol Condominium Development.

The plant in question was laid in conjunction with the construction of the East Coast Parkway, at a time when the land was still State land.
The relevant legislation at that time was the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore Act (Act No 1 of 1974) (`the 1974 Act`). Section 45 of the 1974 Act empowered the TAS, at all reasonable times, to enter upon any State land, and, subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Lands, to install telecommunication installations. On 1 April 1992, all the property, rights and liabilities comprised in telecommunications undertakings of the TAS became vested in SingTel by virtue of s 31 of the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore Act (Cap 323, 1993 Ed) (Act 12 of 1992) (`the 1992 Act`). The plant was thus vested in SingTel.

SingTel`s defences in the suit are as follows: first, it contends that the plant was laid in accordance with the then prevailing statutory requirements under the 1974 Act.
Further, or in the alternative, it contends that it has a complete defence to Japura`s claims under s 107(1) of the 1992 Act, which authorises the laying and maintaining of the plant on the land. Thirdly, it is argued that Japura purchased the land with notice of the plant, and that it would be a fraud by Japura on the vendor to deny SingTel the right to maintain the plant on the land.

The issues in the suit, as identified by counsel, are as follows:

(a) whether the request by the Public Works Department (the `PWD`) in 1976 to the TAS to lay the plant satisfied the requirements of s 45 of the 1974 Act;

(b) whether the PWD`s request amounted to the grant to the TAS of an irrevocable licence to lay and maintain the plant on State land;

(c) the scope, extent and application of s 107 of the 1992 Act;

(d) whether it is a fraud by Japura on the Government of Singapore to maintain the suit against SingTel, given the terms upon which Japura purchased the land from the Government.

By way of SIC 6000239/99 (`the substantive application`), SingTel applied for a determination under O 14 r 12 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322) as to whether it is entitled to rely upon s 107(1) of the 1992 Act as authority for maintaining the plant on the land, even if the plant had been laid on the land without the approval of the Commissioner of Lands as required under the statutory provisions preceding the 1992 Act, in particular the 1974 Act.
This substantive application was fixed to be heard on 26 January 2000. However, on that occasion, Japura successfully applied for an adjournment, pending the determination of the application to admit Mr Stuart Lindsay Isaacs, Queen`s Counsel (`Mr Isaacs`), to argue the case on their behalf. On 9 February 2000, I allowed Mr Isaacs`s application for admission, and admitted him under s 21 of the LPA for the purpose of appearing as counsel on behalf of Japura in the Suit, and in connection with all proceedings relating thereto. On 23 February 2000, the parties made a joint application to the court and fixed the hearing of the substantive application (ie SIC 6000239/99) on 17 and 18 April 2000.

Around the end of February 2000, SingTel instructed its solicitors, Allen and Gledhill (A&G) to apply for a Queen`s Counsel to argue its case against Japura.
Pursuant to SingTel`s directions, A&G also instructed Mr Beloff. On 28 February 2000, A&G verbally notified Japura`s solicitors, Koh Ong & Partners, of SingTel`s intentions. The following day, A&G wrote formally to Koh Ong & Partners about the same matter. On 2 March 2000, Koh Ong & Partners indicated that Japura objected to the application.

The law

Mr Beloff`s application was made pursuant to s 21 of the LPA. Under s 21(1), the court -

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16 cases
  • Godfrey Gerald, Queen's Counsel v UBS AG and Others
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2003
    ...While the availability and ability of local counsel is not per se an absolute bar to the admission of a QC (Re Beloff Michael Jacob QC [2000] 2 SLR 782 at p 786), there would be little justification in admitting a QC if local counsel are ready and able to act (Re Gyles QC [1996] 2 SLR 695 a......
  • Re Godfrey Gerald QC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 November 2002
    ...of local counsel to handle this case was not by itself an absolute bar to the admission of a Queen’s Counsel. In Re Beloff Michael Jacob [2000] 2 SLR 782, the defendants (Singtel) appointed local Senior Counsel to argue their case. The plaintiffs (Japura) did not attempt to engage local cou......
  • Re Millar Gavin James QC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 17 October 2007
    ...his contention that the courts should admit a QC to level the playing field, Mr Wee seized upon the case of Re Beloff Michael Jacob QC [2000] 2 SLR 782, where the High Court permitted the defendant, who was already represented by a SC, to hire a QC in order to “ensure a level playing field”......
  • Re Joseph David QC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 12 December 2011
    ...that the public interests required a reappraisal of the current tightly restricted position: at [60].] Beloff Michael Jacob QC, Re [2000] 1 SLR (R) 943; [2000] 2 SLR 782 (refd) Caplan Jonathan Michael QC, Re [1997] 3 SLR (R) 412; [1998] 1 SLR 440 (refd) CRW Joint Operation v PT Perusahaan G......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2008, December 2008
    • 1 December 2008
    ...1 SLR 297 at [42]. Indeed, as explained in Re Godfrey Gerald QC[2003] 1 SLR 461, the High Court”s reference in Re Beloff Michael Jacob QC[2000] 2 SLR 782 to the principle of a level playing field was made only after the court had arrived at the conclusion that the factual and legal matrix o......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2003, December 2003
    • 1 December 2003
    ...of Senior Counsel. 18.11 Incidentally, the court further took the opportunity (at [34]) to clarify that Re Beloff Michael Jacob QC[2000] 2 SLR 782‘does not stand for the general principle that the circumstances warrant the admission by a QC when the opposing side is represented by a [Senior......

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