Re Tang King Kai

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin J
Judgment Date05 February 1991
Neutral Citation[1991] SGHC 24
Citation[1991] SGHC 24
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 155 of 1988
Subject MatterLegal Profession,Chairman passing away after report submitted,Whether disciplinary committee, without the chairman, could reconvene and make report in proper terms,Disciplinary procedures,ss 80, 90 Legal Profession Act (Cap 161),Disciplinary committee's determination,Whether disciplinary committee could be reconstituted by appointment of new chairman,Legal Profession Act (Cap 161)
Plaintiff CounselMichael Khoo (Michael Khoo & BB Ong)
Published date19 September 2003
Date05 February 1991
Defendant CounselGavin Lightman QC and Cheong Yuen Hee (YH Cheong)

On 1 April 1987 a disciplinary committee (the Committee) under the chairmanship of Mr Justice T Kulasekaram (retired), now deceased, was appointed by the Chief Justice under the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161)(the Act) to hear and investigate four charges against one Tang King Kai (TKK), an advocate and solicitor, following complaints made by two advocates and solicitors. The same Committee was also appointed to hear two charges each against two other solicitors, which also arose from the same complaints.

After a hearing which stretched over several days, the Committee submitted its report on 19 December 1987. In the report, the Committee made the following findings and determinations in respect of the four charges against TKK:

Charge 1

Bearing in mind the high degree of proof required in these cases, the Committee feels that the Society has only established a clear case of negligence on the part of TKK in holding out PT as a partner since 1981 and not that he had wilfully acted in breach. The Committee is not satisfied that from the facts there is a case of sufficient gravity within the meaning of s 80(2)(b) in respect of this charge, but nevertheless, determined that TKK should be reprimanded for the same under s 90(1)(b) of the Act. (Emphasis added.)

Charge 2

The Committee finds that there was negligence shown on the part of TKK in failing to ensure that the undertaking given to SLB was honoured. This negligence was so culpable as to amount to grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his profession and duty within the meaning of s 80(2)(b). (See Re Francis Seow [1973] 1 MLJ 199 .)

Charge 3

The Committee finds that the failure to inform SLB of the sale of No 70 Greenwood Ave by TKK was deliberate and with foresight of its consequences even though by that act of omission he enjoyed no pecuniary advantage. In the light of the undertaking given by his firm on 15 April 1985, there was a duty on his part to so inform. He failed to discharge that duty promptly or at all.

The test of what constitutes grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duties has been laid down by the cases to mean conduct which is dishonourable to the solicitor as a man and dishonourable in his profession. (See Re David Marshall [1972] 2 MLJ 221 .) Applying this test, the Committee is of the view that TKK`s conduct comes within s 80(2)(b) of the Act and he should be dealt with accordingly.

Charge 4

Although TKK ought to have been aware that PT had no practising certificate from 1981 to 1986, the Law Society has not been able to prove that TKK had acted knowingly and wilfully against the Legal Profession Act in this case. The Committee would also apply the same reasoning in the first charge against TKK in DC/SEC/3/87 and determine that the ends of justice would be met by administering a reprimand to him in respect of this charge under s 90(1)(b) of the Act.

Following the receipt of the report of the Committee and pursuant to s 91 of the Act, the Law Society applied ex parte in this originating summons for an order that TKK should show cause why he should not be dealt with under the provisions of s 80 of the Act. An order in terms was granted by the then Chief Justice on 7 March 1988.

On 13 May 1988 the Law Society of Singapore applied by way of a summons-in-chambers (ex parte) in this originating summons, for the following orders:

(1) the order of court made on 7 March 1988 in terms of this originating summons be stayed until further order;

(2) the Committee appointed, heard and investigated into the complaints against Tang King Kai do make its determination in accordance with s 90(1) and (2) of the Act;

(3) in respect of such determination the appointment of the chairman of the committee, the late Mr Justice T Kulasekaram be revoked and that the vacancy created by such revocation be filled by another member to be appointed under s 87(3) of the Act;

(4) the six-month period within which the committee is required to make its findings and determination under s 90(3) of the Act be extended to a further period of six months from the date of the making of the order hereon.

In an affidavit deposed to by one Mr Chim How Yan on behalf of the Law Society and filed in support of the: application, it was stated that the order made on 7 March 1988 had not yet been perfected and neither had it been served on TKK, the respondent. Mr Chim further stated that it had come to his knowledge that the Committee had...

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1 cases
  • Whitehouse Holdings Pte Ltd v Law Society of Singapore
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 23 May 1994
    ...Lawrence Tan (Drew & Napier) for the defendant. Singh Kalpanath, Re [1992] 1 SLR (R) 595; [1992] 2 SLR 639 (refd) Tang King Kai, Re [1991] 1 SLR (R) 282; [1991] SLR 527 (refd) Wee Harry Lee, Re [1983-1984] SLR (R) 274; [1984-1985] SLR 323 (refd) Wee Soon Kim Anthony v Law Society of Singapo......
1 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal Nbr. 2008, December 2008
    • 1 December 2008
    ...and Solicitors in Singapore and West Malaysia (Butterworths, 2nd Ed, 1998) at p 898. 34 [1978] 1 MLJ 229. 35 [1978] 1 MLJ 229 at [25]. 36 [1991] SLR 527. 37 [1991] SLR 527 at [16]. 38 [1991] SLR 527 at [16]. 39 See, for example, The Law Society of Singapore v S Kunalen D Samuel[1988] SGDSC ......

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