Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC

JurisdictionSingapore
Judgment Date14 August 2001
Date14 August 2001
Docket NumberOriginating Motion No 600012 of
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC

[2001] SGHC 219

Yong Pung How CJ

Originating Motion No 600012 of 2001

High Court

Legal Profession–Admission–Ad hoc–Admission of Queen's Counsel–Three stage test for admission–Whether issues of sufficient complexity and difficulty–Whether local expertise present–Whether circumstances of case warrant admission–Whether applicant has special qualifications and experience–Section 21 (1) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2000 Rev Ed)

The applicant applied for ad hoc admission under s 21 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2000 Rev Ed) (“the LPA”) to act as leading counsel for Fico BV, the plaintiff in a patent infringement action in the High Court, until final disposal of the case. The claim pertained to an allegation that the defendant's machine had infringed three patents owned by the plaintiff. The applicant submitted that the case involved three main issues which justified his admission. The first issue was whether the plaintiff's invention was novel and involved an inventive step. The second related to a construction of s 71 of the Patents Act (Cap 221, 1995 Rev Ed). The third concerned an issue of administrative law in the context of the Patents Act.

Held, dismissing the application:

(1) To obtain admission under s 21 of the LPA, the applicant must satisfy three conditions. First, the case in which he sought to appear must contain issues of law or fact of sufficient difficulty and complexity to require elucidation or argument by a Queen's Counsel. Second, the circumstances of the particular case warranted the court exercising its discretion in favour of his admission. Third, the applicant must possess special qualifications or experience so as to be suitable for admission: at [6].

(2) In the light of the applicant's impressive credentials, the requirement of special qualifications and experience was clearly satisfied: at [3].

(3) However, the main issues relevant to the case were not of such complexity and difficulty as to justify the admission of the applicant. Some of the issues had been considered by the Court of Appeal before and there were applicable binding precedents. The mere fact that there was no local decision interpreting a statutory provision in issue did not per se turn it into a complex or difficult issue. Decisions of other Commonwealth jurisdictions could be relied upon and issues of fact could be decided by the High Court based on witnesses' testimony and other documentary evidence: at [13], [14] and [17].

(4) The allegation that the level of patent expertise in Singapore was low was hardly justifiable. There had been patent cases involving local counsel and this was not a case where the necessary knowledge and experience was not available from, or could not be provided by, local counsel. The circumstances of the present case did not justify admission of the applicant: at [20] and [21].

Caplan Jonathan Michael QC, Re [1997] 3 SLR (R) 412; [1998] 1 SLR 440 (folld)

Flexon (Pte) Ltd v Bean Innovations Pte Ltd [2000] 3 SLR (R) 492; [2001] 1 SLR 24 (refd)

Flint Charles John Raffles QC, Re [2001] 1 SLR (R) 433; [2001] 2 SLR 276 (refd)

Genelabs Diagnostics Pte Ltd v Institut Pasteur [2000] 3 SLR (R) 530; [2001] 1 SLR 121 (refd)

Merck & Co Inc v Pharmaforte Singapore Pte Ltd [2000] 2 SLR (R) 708; [2000] 3 SLR 717 (refd)

Oliver David Keightley Rideal QC, Re [1992] 1 SLR (R) 961; [1992] 2 SLR 400 (refd)

Price Arthur Leolin QC, Re [1998] 3 SLR (R) 346; [1998] 3 SLR 782 (refd)

Price Arthur Leolin v AG [1992] 3 SLR (R) 113; [1992] 2 SLR 972 (refd)

V-Pile Technology (Luxembourg) SA v Peck Brothers Construction Pte Ltd [1997] 3 SLR (R) 981; [2000] 3 SLR 358 (refd)

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2000 Rev Ed) s 21 (1) (consd)

Patents Act (Cap 221, 1995 Rev Ed) s 71

Dedar Singh Gill and Jupiter Kong (Drew & Napier LLC) for the...

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6 cases
  • Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 6 December 2005
    ...3 SLR (R) 530; [2001] 1 SLR 121 (refd) Gyles QC, Re [1996] 1 SLR (R) 871; [1996] 2 SLR 695 (folld) Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC, Re [2001] 2 SLR (R) 743; [2001] 3 SLR 575 (folld) Kirin-Amgen Inc v Hoechst Marion Roussel Ltd [2005] RPC 9 (refd) Merck & Co Inc v Pharmaforte Singapore Pte Ltd......
  • Godfrey Gerald, Queen's Counsel v UBS AG and Others
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2003
    ...‘difficulty’ and ‘complexity’ have been cited both conjunctively as well as disjunctively: see e.g. Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC [2001] 3 SLR 575 at p 577; Re Caplan Jonathan Michael QC [1998] 1 SLR 432 at p 435. However, it should be pointed out that nothing in those cases turned on wh......
  • Re Nicholas William Henric QC and another application
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 18 April 2002
    ...the decision: at [48]. Caplan Jonathan Michael QC, Re [1997] 3 SLR (R) 412; [1998] 1 SLR 440 (folld) Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC, Re [2001] 2 SLR (R) 743; [2001] 3 SLR 575 (folld) Littlemore Stuart QC, Re [2002] 1 SLR (R) 198; [2002] 1 SLR 296 (refd) Oliver David Keightley Rideal QC, Re [......
  • Godfrey Gerald, Queen's Counsel v UBS AG and Others
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2003
    ...‘difficulty’ and ‘complexity’ have been cited both conjunctively as well as disjunctively: see e.g. Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC [2001] 3 SLR 575 at p 577; Re Caplan Jonathan Michael QC [1998] 1 SLR 432 at p 435. However, it should be pointed out that nothing in those cases turned on wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2002, December 2002
    • 1 December 2002
    ...of the case for admission on this score is usually fatal to the intended admission. Like Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC[2001] 3 SLR 575 which was reported last year and reviewed in (2001) 2 SAL Ann Rev 338 at paras 18.7—18.8, Re Nicholas William Henric QC[2002] 2 SLR 296 was an effective ......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2003, December 2003
    • 1 December 2003
    ...the presence of factual difficulties and complexities in the main proceedings. As already indicated in Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC[2001] 3 SLR 575, reviewed in (2001) 2 SAL Ann Rev 338 at para 18.8 it must be shown that the factual allegations would require particular skill and experie......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...difficult and complex and that the case for ad hoc admission was made out. 18.7 The second case on s 21, Re Howe Martin Russell Thomas QC[2001] 3 SLR 575 was a simpler case mainly because much of the requisite proof of the difficulty and complexity of the case was taken for granted, a fatal......

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