Re Flint Charles John Raffles QC

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeLai Kew Chai J
Judgment Date13 March 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGHC 47
Citation[2001] SGHC 47
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselVinodh Coomaraswamy and David Chan (Shook Lin & Bok)
Subject MatterThree-stage test for admission,Whether circumstances of case warranted court exercising discretion in favour of admission,s 21(1) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2000 Ed),Whether case of sufficient difficulty and complexity that local counsel unable to adequately and ably handle,Admissionad,Factors non-exhaustive,ad hoc,Legal Profession
Defendant CounselBernadette Balan and Kueh Ping Yang (Haridass Ho & Partners),Eric Chin (Attorney General’s Chambers),Cho Sooi Yoon
Date13 March 2001
Docket NumberOriginating Motion No 31 of 2000

: By Originating Motion filed on 16 November 2000 Mr Charles John Raffles Flint QC (`Mr Flint`) of Blackstone Chambers, Blackstone House, Temple, London EC4Y 9BW sought ad hoc admission under s 21 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2000 Ed) (`the Act`) to practise as an advocate and solicitor of this court as leading counsel for the purpose of appearing on behalf of Malaysian International Trading Corporation Sdn Bhd (`Mitco`) in Suit 280/2000/L (`the Suit`) including any interlocutory appeal proceedings in connection therewith until the final disposal of the matter. On 1 December 2000 the application was heard by me. At the conclusion of the hearing, I dismissed the application.

As I had indicated during arguments, I was guided by case law to `balance the long-term need to foster a strong and independent Bar in our own jurisdiction against the individual justice of each case which may demand that a particularly specialised and skilled Queen`s Counsel` be admitted to assist the court. I further indicated that I had prior to the hearing of the originating motion dealt with some of the urgent and significant interlocutory applications in the Suit handled by local counsel, Mr Vinodh Coomaraswamy and his team of advocates, and that having had the immense benefit of knowing the nature of the case in some depth and observing and evaluating the performance of local counsel, and particularly the level of assistance he and his team had been able, in their roles as advocates, to extend to the court, I needed to be convinced that the case is of sufficient difficulty and complexity that local counsel is unable to handle it adequately for Mitco. Further, I needed to be satisfied on the guidelines laid down by case law that a refusal of the services of a Queen`s Counsel may conceivably result in some disadvantage to the prosecution of Mitco`s case against the defendants at the trial of the Suit.

For the reasons set out in his written submissions, which he elaborated, local counsel strenuously urged for Mr Flint`s admission. However, in the end I formed the view, for the reasons which I will set out, that the case would involve issues which local counsel could, as amply demonstrated, adequately and ably handle and that Mitco`s interest at the full-blown trial would be adequately and ably served by local counsel. Accordingly the motion was dismissed. On 2 January 2001 Mr Flint, being dissatisfied with my decision, filed his Notice of Appeal. I now set out the material circumstances and the reasons for my decision.

Section 21(1) of the Act, which is reproduced below, is the relevant legislation:

(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act, the court may, for the purpose of any one case where the court is satisfied that it is of sufficient difficulty and complexity having regard to the circumstances of the case, admit to practise as an advocate and solicitor any person who -

(a) holds her Majesty`s Patent as Queen`s Counsel;

(b) does not ordinarily reside in Singapore or Malaysia but who has come or intends to come to Singapore for the purpose of appearing in the case; and

(c) has special qualifications or experience for the purpose of the case.

In this application, the impressive credentials of Mr Flint clearly fulfilled the requirements of s 21(1)(c) and that requirement was not in issue before me at all.

As was noted by Chan Sek Keong J (as he then was) in Re Oliver David Keightley Rideal QC [1992] 2 SLR 400 at 402D, the object of the amendment to s 21(1) of the Act, which was effected by Act No 10 of 1991 and which took effect from 1 February 1991, was to lay the foundation for the development of a strong local bar by `the imposition of more stringent conditions for the admission of Queen`s Counsel to appear in our courts, but at the same time, to continue to allow litigants to avail of their services in appropriate cases`. The amendments required the court to take into consideration two additional requirements: (1) the case must be of sufficient difficulty and complexity; and (2) the circumstances of the case.

Our courts have developed a three-stage test when considering an admission under s 21(1) of the Act. This test is best summarised in Re Caplan Jonathan Michael QC (No 2) [1998] 1 SLR 440 where Yong Pung How CJ stated in [para ] 11 on p 444 as follows:

The requirements of the above provision were considered at length by the Court of Appeal in Price Arthur Leolin v A-G & Ors [1992] 2 SLR 972 . In its judgment, the court articulated a three-stage test for admission under s 21(1). At the first stage, the applicant must demonstrate that the case in which he seeks to appear contains issues of law and/or fact of sufficient difficulty and complexity to require elucidation and/or argument by a Queen`s Counsel. Such difficulty or complexity is not of itself a guarantee of admission, for the decision to admit is still a matter for the court`s discretion. At the second stage, therefore, the applicant must persuade the court that the circumstances of the particular case warrant the court exercising its discretion in favour of his admission. Finally, he has to

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3 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2004, December 2004
    • 1 December 2004
    ...his legal representative on the other is what underlies the provisions on ad hoc admissions (see also Re Flint Charles John Raffles QC[2001] 2 SLR 276). The right to legal representation is a true right only in relation to local representation; the litigant who wishes to be represented by f......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...18.3 Of the two cases decided in 2001 on s 21 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2000 Ed), Re Flint Charles John Raffles QC[2001] 2 SLR 276, a decision of Lai Kew Chai J, was the earlier. It focused on the criterion of difficulty and complexity of the case in which ad hoc admission is so......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2003, December 2003
    • 1 December 2003
    ...particular skill and experience to expatiate and prove and once again, that proof was missing; see also Re Flint Charles John Raffles QC[2001] 2 SLR 276 reviewed in (2001) 2 SAL Ann Rev 338 at paras 18.3—18.6). 18.15 On the basis then that the case did not involve difficult and complex poin......

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