Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC

Judgment Date06 December 2005
Date06 December 2005
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 103 of 2005
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC

[2005] SGCA 57

Yong Pung How CJ


Chao Hick Tin JA


Andrew Ang J

Civil Appeal No 103 of 2005

Court of Appeal

Legal Profession–Admission–Ad hoc–Queen's Counsel applying for admission to Singapore Bar on ad hoc basis to appear in matter to be heard before Court of Appeal–Whether issues of sufficient difficulty and complexity existing–Whether to allow application–Section 21 (1) Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed)

Mr Mark Fortescue Platts-Mills QC (“Mr Platts-Mills”) applied for admission to the Singapore Bar on an ad hoc basis under s 21 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) (“the LPA”) for the purpose of representing the respondents in the Court of Appeal in matters relating to patent infringement. The judge granted the application on the grounds that Mr Platts-Mills had satisfied the three-stage test for admission under s 21 of the LPA which required the court to consider: (a) whether the case contained issues of fact or law of sufficient difficulty and complexity to justify the admission of a Queen's Counsel; (b) whether the circumstances of the case warranted the court's exercise of discretion in favour of the applicant; and (c) whether the applicant was a suitable candidate for admission. The appellant appealed against the judge's decision.

Held, allowing the appeal:

(1) The difficulty and complexity of a case was not in and of itself decisive of the question whether a Queen's Counsel should be admitted. It had to be weighed against the availability and calibre of local counsel. Where there was a dearth of local expertise in any given area, even a moderately difficult or complex case might warrant the admission of a Queen's Counsel. Per contra, a Queen's Counsel ought not to be admitted no matter how difficult and complex a case was unless no local counsel was able and willing to take the case: at [15].

(2) The fact that there was an issue that had not been adjudicated upon previously in Singapore did not turn that issue into a complex or difficult one. Neither did the fact that a determination on a particular issue would have a great impact on, in this case, all patent holders, make it an issue which local counsel could not address competently. Further, local counsel had dealt with the same issue at the trial below without assistance of foreign counsel. Ultimately, the court was cognizant of the fact that the standard of the local Bar had increased over the years. Moreover, this would not be the first time that local counsel had had to deal with complex factual issues concerning patent infringement. Local counsel were competent to address the issues raised: at [16] to [18], [20].

(3) Even if complex issues were raised in any one case, local counsel should be able to address the court adequately on these issues with the assistance of written advice from Queen's Counsel. The respondents had sought the assistance of Mr Platts-Mills in drafting their case in the substantive appeals. It was not necessary for Mr Platts-Mills to appear before the Court of Appeal for the purpose of the respondents' appeals: at [19].

Bean Innovations Pte Ltd v Flexon (Pte) Ltd [2001] 2 SLR (R) 116; [2001] 3 SLR 121 (refd)

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

Genelabs Diagnostics Pte Ltd v Institut Pasteur [2000] 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 [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 (folld)

Peng Lian Trading Co v Contour Optik Inc [2003] 2 SLR (R) 560; [2003] 2 SLR 560 (refd)

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

Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2001 Rev Ed) s 21 (1) (consd)

Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 1991 (Act 10 of 1991)

Patents Act (Cap 221, 2002 Rev Ed) ss 66, 77

Tony Yeo, Joanna Koh and Rozalynne Asmali (Drew & Napier LLC) for the appellant

Ponnampalam Sivakumar (Joseph Lopez & Co) for the respondents

Lau Kok Keng for the Law Society of Singapore

Jeffrey Chan and Dominic Zou for the Attorney-General.

Yong Pung How CJ

(delivering the judgment of the court):

1 This was an appeal against the decision of Judith Prakash J (“the judge”), wherein she granted the application of Mr Mark Fortescue Platts-Mills QC (“Mr Platts-Mills”) to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the Singapore Bar for the purpose of appearing as counsel on behalf of FE Global Electronics Pte Ltd, Electec Pte Ltd and M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd (collectively “the respondents”) in Civil Appeals Nos 127 of 2004 and 70 of 2005. At the conclusion of the hearing before us, we allowed the appeal. We now give our...

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7 cases
  • Re Millar Gavin James QC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 17 October 2007 a given area, even a moderately difficult or complex case may warrant the admission of QC (citing Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC [2006] 1 SLR 510 at [15]). The defendants acknowledged that the second stage of the test involved a balancing exercise, with the ability and availability of......
  • Re Joseph David QC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 12 December 2011 [43]. (9) There were at least four reasons which suggest that the Court of Appeal in Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC [2006] 1 SLR (R)510 (‘Fortescue QC’) probably did not intend to lay down an iron rule of law dictating that the admission of Queen's Counsel would only be permissible wh......
  • M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd v Trek 2000 International Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Chancery Division (Patents Court)
    • 28 January 2008
    ...they will certainly consider submissions based upon it. As the Singapore Court of Appeal explained in Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC [2006] 1 SLR 510 at paragraph [16]: “The mere fact that there is no local decision on a particular issue does not, however, per se turn that issue into a c......
  • Re Lord Goldsmith Peter Henry PCQC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 19 September 2013
    ...Caplan Jonathan Michael QC, Re [2013] 3 SLR 66 (folld) Lim Meng Suang v AG [2013] 3 SLR 118 (refd) Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC, Re [2006] 1 SLR (R) 510; [2006] 1 SLR 510 (refd) Seed Nigel John QC, Re [2003] 3 SLR (R) 407; [2003] 3 SLR 407 (refd) Tan Eng Hong v AG [2012] 4 SLR 476 (refd) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2011, December 2011
    • 1 December 2011
    ...may warrant the admission of a Queen's Counsel [emphasis added]: Re Joseph David QC at [19], citing Re Platts-Mills Mark Fortescue QC[2006] 1 SLR(R) 510 at [15] (Re Fortescue QC). 20.3 This puts unavailability of local representation in its place, but importantly in another respect, local u......

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