The Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date05 February 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGHC 24
Citation[2001] SGHC 24
Plaintiff CounselAndrew Ong and Kendall Tan (Rajah & Tann)
Defendant CounselRespondent in person
Subject MatterStandard of judgment,s 83(2)(h)Legal Profession Act (Cap 161),Appropriate sanction,Legal Profession,Solicitor’s lien,Misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor -Respondent repeatedly failing to deliver documents
Published date19 September 2003
Date05 February 2001
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1407 of

(delivering the gounds of decision of the court): Pursuant to an order made by Judicial Commissioner Chan Seng Onn, Mr Arjan Chotrani Bisham, an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of 14 years` standing, was required to show cause why he should not be dealt with according to the provisions of s 83 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1997 Ed) (`the Act`). Pursuant to s 98(5) of the Act, the Law Society of Singapore (`Law Society`) applied by way of motion to have the order to show cause made absolute.

The facts

The complainant, Mr Paviter Singh Bajaj, was Mr Arjan`s erstwhile client. In 1995, Mr Arjan had acted for Mr Paviter and one Mrs Mahtani in the attempted purchase of a property known as 72 Serangoon Road (`the first property`). Later that same year Mr Arjan was again instructed by Mr Paviter to act for him in the attempted purchase of 25 other properties (`the 25 properties`). The attempts to purchase these properties were unsuccessful and both Mr Paviter and Mrs Mahtani suffered substantial losses as a result.

On or about 20 April 1998 Mr Paviter sought advice from the firm of Drew & Napier (`D&N`) concerning his rights against Mr Arjan. D&N, through Mr Hri Kumar, asked Mr Paviter for a complete set of all the documents pertaining to the aborted purchases of all the properties. Mr Paviter informed him that he did not have the documents and D&N began what was to turn out to be an arduous attempt to obtain copies of all the relevant documents in Mr Arjan`s possession.

The saga began on 4 May 1998 when D&N wrote to Mr Arjan to ask for copies of all the relevant files. No response was received and a reminder was sent out on 9 May 1998. On 12 and 13 May 1998, D&N tried unsuccessfully to contact Mr Arjan through the telephone. On 18 May 1998, Mr Paviter himself wrote to Mr Arjan. On 21 May 1998, D&N sent another reminder to Mr Arjan. Following this, a meeting was arranged between Mr Paviter, Mr Kumar and Mr Arjan. This took place on 23 May 1998. At the meeting Mr Arjan informed the others that he was in the process of making copies of the files and that he would send the copies of the files he had already copied to D&N by 26 May 1998 while the rest would be copied and sent by 31 May 1998.

On 25 May 1998, a letter was sent to remind Mr Arjan of the deadline he had committed himself to at the meeting. However, the deadline passed without the delivery of any of the documents promised. On 28 May 1998, D&N wrote to Mr Arjan again and set him a deadline - he was to deliver the copies of the files he had already copied by 5pm on 29 May 1998 and he was to deliver the copies of the files he had yet to copy by 5pm on 1 June 1998.

Nothing more was heard from Mr Arjan and on 5 June 1998 Mr Paviter again wrote to him and set 8 June 1998 as the next deadline. In that letter, Mr Paviter warned that he would refer the matter to the Law Society if the deadline was not met. Mr Arjan did not respond and D&N tried to contact him through the telephone on 9 and 10 June 1998. These attempts were unsuccessful and on 11 June 1998, D&N sent another letter reiterating the request for the copies of the files.

On 25 June 1998 another unsuccessful telephone call was followed by another letter from D&N. On 26 June 1998 Mr Paviter contacted D&N and told Mr Kumar that Mr Arjan had called him to say that the copies of the files relating to the attempted purchase of the first property were ready for collection. Mr Kumar duly collected these documents.

On 15 July 1998, D&N wrote to Mr Arjan again to ask for the documents pertaining to the 25 properties. There was no response to this letter. On 27 July 1998, D&N tried unsuccessfully to contact Mr Arjan through the telephone and on 28 July another letter was sent. In this letter, among other things, D&N informed Mr Arjan that Mr Paviter had lost his patience with him and had set 30 July 1998 as the final deadline, beyond which he would proceed to enforce his rights. On the same day another unsuccessful attempt was made to contact Mr Arjan on the telephone. The deadline passed without any response from Mr Arjan and on 5 August 1998, Mr Paviter made what was to become the first of two complaints to the Law Society concerning Mr Arjan`s conduct with regards to the documents pertaining to his attempted purchase of the properties.

The complaint was referred to the Chairman of the Inquiry Panel and an Inquiry Committee (`IC`) was duly constituted. Mr Arjan did not avail himself of the opportunities to explain his conduct to the IC and on 29...

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19 cases
  • Law Society of Singapore v Ganesan Krishnan
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 13 February 2003
    ...to refer the matter to the court of three Judges upon Mr Ganesan’s admission of guilt: Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham [2001] 1 SLR 684. 9 Second, Mr Ganesan had breached r 27 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) 10 Third, Mr Ganesan failed to adhere with what the......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Subbiah Pillai
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    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2004
    ...unfit to remain as a member of an honourable profession”: In re Weare [1893] 2 QB 439; Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham [2001] 1 SLR 684 and Ganesan Krishnan ([14] 23 To this end, we bore in mind that the rationale for disciplinary sentencing, as set out by Sir Thomas Bingha......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Tan Phuay Khiang
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 June 2007
    ...v Ahmad Khalis bin Abdul Ghani [2006] 4 SLR (R) 308; [2006] 4 SLR 308 (folld) Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham [2001] 1 SLR (R) 231; [2001] 1 SLR 684 (folld) Law Society of Singapore v Chung Ting Fai [2006] 4 SLR (R) 587; [2006] 4 SLR 587 (refd) Law Society of Singapore v Ga......
  • Datuk M Kayveas v Bar Council
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4 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2004, December 2004
    • 1 December 2004
    ...suspension and only in a very unusual and venial case would censure be appropriate. See Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham[2001] 1 SLR 684; Law Society of Singapore v Heng Guan Hong Geoffrey[2000] 1 SLR 361. 18.27 In the year under review, three unreported and three reported c......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...duty. 18.33 Only one case was reported on the widely couched para (h), namely, Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham[2001] 1 SLR 684. Paragraph (h) is directed at conduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor. This head of due cause for disciplinary action was formerly cast in a ......
  • A CLARION CALL TO LAWYERS TO BE “UNFLINCHINGLY LOYAL” TO THEIR CLIENTS
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal Nbr. 2007, December 2007
    • 1 December 2007
    ...2(2). 57 Including Law Society of Singapore v Ng Chee Sing[2000] 2 SLR 165, at [45] and Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham[2001] 1 SLR 684, both of which are considered in the course of the High Court’s observations in Tan Phuay Khiang, at [37]-[41]. Also see “Ethics and Profe......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2003, December 2003
    • 1 December 2003
    ...standard of appraisal of the ordinary reasonable man or the profession or the court. (cfLaw Society of Singapore v Arjan Chotrani Bisham[2001] 1 SLR 684 on the standard of appraisal of conduct within s 83(2)(h)). Another obvious difficulty is the question of whether a prediction as to the f......

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