Re Lim Kiap Khee

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date30 June 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGHC 160
Citation[2001] SGHC 160
Plaintiff CounselAziz Tayabali (Aziz Tayabali & Associates)
Defendant CounselRespondent absent
Date30 June 2001
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 600376 of

(delivering the grounds of judgment of the court): This was a show-cause proceeding brought by the Law Society under s 98(1) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1994 Ed) (`the Act`) against the respondent, Lim Kiap Khee, an advocate and solicitor that he be dealt with under the Act for misconduct. Upon hearing counsel for the Society, and the respondent not appearing, we ordered that the respondent be struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors. We now give our reasons.

Cause for complaint

The respondent was admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court on 16 January 1974. He had since 25 April 1997 ceased to practise law. At all material times he was the sole proprietor of his own legal firm M/s Lim Kiap Khee & Co. The disciplinary action arose out of a complaint, dated 11 March 1999, lodged by Wearnes Development (Pte) Ltd (`Wearnes`) against the respondent for having breached an undertaking (`the undertaking`) given to Wearnes by the respondent on 27 April 1995 as a solicitor.

The undertaking was given by the respondent in the following circumstances. Wearnes were the developers of a detached house at No 6 Cornwall Gardens (`the property`). On 21 June 1994, Wearnes sold the property at a public auction to Lum Kok Seng and Chin Leng Kee (`original purchasers`) at a price of $7,860,000. On 23 November 1994 the original purchasers sub-sold the property to Shyam Mangharam Ganglani (`sub-purchaser`). The sub-purchaser was represented by the respondent in the transaction.

Under cl 5(1)(j) of the original sale and purchase agreement, the last 15% of the purchase price was to be paid in the following manner:

On completion of the sale and purchase of the property in accordance with clause 16 hereof, the purchaser shall pay to the vendor the balance of the fifteen (15) per cent of the purchaser price which shall be dealt with as follows:

(aa) two (2) per cent of the purchase price shall be paid forthwith to the Vendor;

(ab) the remaining thirteen (13) per cent of the purchase price shall be paid to the Purchaser`s Solicitors as stakeholders to be dealt with as follows:

(i) eight (8) per cent of the purchase price shall be paid to the Vendor within seven (7) days of the receipt by the Purchaser or his solicitors of the Certificate of Statutory Completion of the building issued by the Building Authority or a photographic copy thereof duly certified as a true copy by the Vendor`s solicitors;

(ii) five (5) per cent of the purchase price or any balance thereof (after any deduction has been made in accordance with clause 20 hereof and for moneys owing to the Purchaser) shall be paid to the Vendor on the expiry of 12 months from the date of notice to take vacant possession to the Purchaser.



By the end of November 1994, construction of the property was completed. On 2 December 1994, Wearnes gave notice to the original purchasers to take vacant possession of the property and forwarded therewith the temporary occupation permit. Accordingly under cl 5(1)(j)(ab)(ii) the last 5% of the purchase price was to be paid upon expiry of 12 months from the date of notice. It was generally accepted that the 5% payment should be made on 1 December 1995.

In the meantime, on 31 March 1995, Wearnes served a notice to complete on the original purchasers` solicitors. Later by mutual agreement, the date for completion was extended to 31 May 1995. On 29 April 1995, through a tripartite transfer, the sale of the property was completed in favour of the sub-purchaser. In accordance with cl 5(1)(j), 2% of the last 15% of the purchase price was paid on that day. With regard to tbe balance 13%, it was mutually agreed that the respondent`s firm would step into the shoes of the original purchasers` solicitors and hold that sum and release it to Wearnes as provided in cl 5(1)(j)(ab). This was evidenced by a written undertaking dated 27 April 1995 given by the respondent`s firm to Wearnes. There could not be any doubt that the undertaking was given by the respondent, as the sole proprietor of his firm, in his capacity as solicitor. As the substance of the complaint concerned this undertaking, we shall set out the letter in extenso:

We confirm that we are holding the sum of $1,021,800-00 as stakeholders.

We undertake to release the sum of $1,021,800-00 as follows:-

(a) $628,800.00 shall be paid to you within seven (7) days of receipt by us of a copy of the Certificate of Statutory Completion relating to the property; and

(b) $393,000.00 or any balance thereof (after any deduction has been made in accordance with clause 20 of the Special Conditions and for moneys owing to Lum Kok Seng and Chin Leng Kee) shall be paid to you on or before 1st December 1995 .



On 14 August 1995, Wearnes` solicitors forwarded to the respondent`s firm the certificate of statutory completion issued by the competent authority on 28 July 1995. Following this, and in accordance with cl 5(1)(j)(ab)(i), 8% of the purchase price should be paid over to Wearnes within seven days of 14 August 1995, ie by 21 August 1995. No such payment was, however, made by the respondent`s firm to Wearnes. Instead on the same day, 14 August 1995, the respondent wrote to Wearnes` solicitors alleging that his client, the sub-purchaser, had `found several defects due to defective workmanship and/or the quality of material used in the construction of the property`. On 16 August 1995, Wearnes` solicitors reminded the respondent of his undertaking and that under cl 5(1)(j) deduction for defects could only be made from the last 5% of the purchase price. Notwithstanding this clarification, the...

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19 cases
  • Law Society of Singapore v Ahmad Khalis bin Abdul Ghani
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 August 2006
    ...that there has been an absence of professional misconduct: Re Han Ngiap Juan [1993] 2 SLR 81 at 87–89, [26]–[29] and Re Lim Kiap Khee [2001] 3 SLR 616 at [19] (applying Rajasooria v Disciplinary Committee [1955] 1 WLR 405). Indeed, professional misconduct infused with dishonesty would attra......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Nor'ain bte Abu Bakar and Others
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 8 October 2008
    ...or unfavourable towards the contention for which he argues; … 40 The word “fraudulent” is not defined in the Act. In Re Lim Kiap Khee [2001] 3 SLR 616, this court held that an intention to deceive was a requirement of fraudulent conduct. This is consistent with the meaning of “fraud” at com......
  • Datuk M Kayveas v Bar Council
    • Malaysia
    • Federal Court (Malaysia)
    • Invalid date
  • Law Society of Singapore v Rasif David
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 January 2008
    ...of Singapore v Vardan VCS [1999] 1 SLR (R) 605; [1999] 2 SLR 229 (refd) Lim Kiap Khee, Re; Law Society of Singapore v Lim Kiap Khee [2001] 2 SLR (R) 398; [2001] 3 SLR 616 (refd) Marshall David, Re; Law Society of Singapore v Marshall David Saul [1971-1973] SLR (R) 554; [1972-1974] SLR 132 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2015, December 2015
    • 1 December 2015
    ...of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action under s 93(1)(c) of the LPA, citing cases of Law Society of Singapore v Lim Kiap Khee[2001] 2 SLR(R) 398 (‘Lim Kiap Khee’) and Law Society of Singapore v Tham Kok Leong Thomas[2006] 1 SLR(R) 775 (‘Tham Kok Leong’) at [28], read with the views ex......

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