The Law Society of Singapore v Singham Dennis Mahendran

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date02 January 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGHC 1
Citation[2001] SGHC 1
SubjectWhether conduct amounting to grossly improper conduct,s 83(1) & 83(2)(b)Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1997 Ed),Consensual sexual relations with client during existence of solicitor-client relationship,Appropriate sanction,Legal Profession,Show cause action,Grossly improper conduct in discharge of professional duties
Date02 January 2001
Plaintiff CounselPrem Gurbani and Mabel Mak (Gurbani & Co)
Defendant CounselKenneth Tan SC (Kenneth Tan Partnership)
Docket NumberOriginating Summons No 1410 of
Publication Date19 September 2003

(delivering the grounds of judgment of the court): Dennis Mahendran Singham (the `respondent`), an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore of 25 years` standing, faced the following charges brought against him by the Law Society of Singapore:

Charge

That Dennis Mahendran Singham is guilty of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duties within the meaning of s 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1997 Ed) in that he did carry on a sexual relationship with a client of Rodyk & Davidson, in which firm he was a Partner, sometime between 20 April 1995 and 18 October 1995 during which period he was the solicitor having the conduct of divorce proceedings instituted in the High Court by the said client.

Alternative charge

That Dennis Mahendran Singham is guilty of such misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor as an officer of the Supreme Court or as a member of an honourable profession within the meaning of s 83(2)(h) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 1997 Ed) in that he did carry on a sexual relationship with a client of Rodyk & Davidson, in which firm he was a Partner, sometime between 20 April 1995 and 18 October 1995 during which period he was the solicitor having the conduct of divorce proceedings instituted in the High Court by the said client.



The Disciplinary Committee of the Law Society (the `Disciplinary Committee`) found the respondent guilty of the charge of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duties under s 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (the `Act`). The Law Society thus filed this originating summons for the respondent to show cause why he should not be dealt with under the provisions of s 83 of the Act in such manner as this court shall deem fit.

At the show cause proceedings, we ordered that the respondent be suspended from practice as an advocate and solicitor for a period of three years. We set out our reasons below.

The facts

The respondent, while a partner in the firm of Rodyk & Davidson, was first consulted by the client (the `client`), with whom he had the alleged relationship, on 10 April 1995 to represent her in divorce proceedings that she wished to bring against her then husband in the High Court. The client`s divorce petition was filed in the High Court on 20 April 1995. The High Court granted the divorce and a decree nisi was issued on 6 July 1995. The decree nisi was made absolute on 18 October 1995. The essence of the charge against the respondent was that between April 1995 when the client`s divorce petition was filed and October 1995 when the decree nisi was made absolute, the respondent carried on a sexual relationship with her while there was a solicitor-client relationship in existence between them.

The Disciplinary Committee accepted the evidence of the client on how her relationship with the respondent developed. The facts as found by the Disciplinary Committee were as follows.

The client`s first meeting with the respondent on 10 April 1995 was in his office during which she retained him as her solicitor for the purposes of instituting divorce proceedings against her then husband. After the first meeting, the respondent gave the client a lift back to her office and was very attentive to her. He even suggested that the client could use his chauffeur to drive her mother to hospital for dialysis thrice weekly.

Their second meeting took place two days later for the purposes of working on the divorce petition. Again, the respondent was very attentive to the client. He invited her to lunch and also spoke about his own marital problems.

A third meeting was held within a week for the client to approve the draft petition. This time, the respondent invited her to lunch again at a fine Italian restaurant. The respondent commented to the client that her then husband would not take her to such places but the respondent would. During lunch, the respondent professed to the client that he was attracted to her from the first time they met.

After their third meeting, the respondent left for the United Kingdom. While he was there, he called the client but she was out. After his return from the UK, he repeatedly invited her out for drinks and the drinks sessions at the American Club became a daily routine. It was during these meetings at the American Club that the client`s reservations and resistance started crumbling and she permitted herself to believe what the respondent told her about her then husband. The respondent always made suggestions that he was a better man than her then husband. The respondent would also express regret about his own marriage.

The client was also touched by the concern that the respondent showed over her mother`s illness. He was always attentive, concerned, caring and sensitive to the client. He made several attempts to be intimate with her. He also told her that, as she had started divorce proceedings, she should not allow her then husband into her bedroom. He told the client that they would eventually end up together and even started dictating what she should wear and how she should behave.

On or about 12 May 1995, the respondent took the client to Kuala Lumpur where they stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel. There, he confirmed that he would divorce his wife and marry her. During this visit to Kuala Lumpur, although they booked into separate hotel rooms, they had sex on several occasions in her room. They returned to Singapore on 15 May 1995. The next day, she received a bouquet of flowers from the respondent with a message which read `- A - Thanks! You know the rest. - D - `.

From 25 May to 29 May 1995, the respondent and the client were in Kuala Lumpur again and shared a room at the Shangri-La Hotel. During their stay in Kuala Lumpur, they had sex on several occasions and the respondent also wrote several messages to the client declaring his love for her.

In late May 1995, the respondent took the client and her mother to dinner at the American Club. The client`s mother was impressed by the manner and sincerity of the respondent, who also professed his intention to marry the client after he had sorted out his own marital problems.

On the respondent`s advice, the client moved out of her matrimonial home with her mother in June or July 1995 and moved into a property at Jalan Puteh Jernah. Before the client and her mother moved into the new residence, she had sex there with the respondent on several occasions at his request while the premises were still vacant. They also frequently had sex in the car park of the Botanical Gardens extension in Cluny Road.

The client`s decree nisi was granted on 6 July 1995. On 29 July 1995, the client and the respondent visited the Pangkor Laut Resort and stayed there in the same room until 1 August 1995. During their stay there, they had sex on several occasions.

Meanwhile, after the client had started her divorce proceedings, her then husband made several attempts to reconcile. By then, the client was convinced by the respondent that there was no way her then husband could treat her as well as the respondent had done.

In September...

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8 cases
  • Law Society of Singapore v Wong Sin Yee
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 13 August 2003
    ...his release from prison one and half years ago, he has not resumed practice. 25 In Law Society of Singapore v Singam Dennis Mahendran [2001] 1 SLR 566, the charge against the respondent was that he had carried on a sexual relationship with a client who came to him for legal assistance to di......
  • Datuk M Kayveas v Bar Council
    • Malaysia
    • Federal Court (Malaysia)
    • Invalid date
  • Law Society of Singapore v Ganesan Krishnan
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 13 February 2003
    ...eg Law Society of Singapore v Arjan Singh Chotrani Bisham [2001] 1 SLR 684 at 691; Law Society of Singapore v Singham Dennis Mahendran [2001] 1 SLR 566 at 575; Law Society of Singapore v Heng Guan Hong Geoffrey [2000] 1 SLR 361 at Any solicitor who is shown to have discharged his profession......
  • Law Society of Singapore v Chan Chun Hwee Allan
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 30 January 2018
    ...of Singapore v Ravindra Samuel [1999] 1 SLR(R) 266; [1999] 1 SLR 696 (folld) Law Society of Singapore v Singham Dennis Mahendran [2001] 1 SLR(R) 1; [2001] 1 SLR 566 (refd) Law Society of Singapore v Tan Buck Chye Dave [2007] 1 SLR(R) 581; [2007] 1 SLR 581 (refd) Law Society of Singapore v T......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2004, December 2004
    • 1 December 2004
    ...other relevant factors to produce a difference between suspension and censure: see Law Society of Singapore v Singham Dennis Mahendran[2001] 1 SLR 566. In serious cases, it may add to the gravity of the deficiency in observance of the requisite standards to produce a striking off. One could......
  • Legal Profession
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...He was therefore suspended from practice and not struck off the roll. 18.38 In Law Society of Singapore v Singham Dennis Mahendran[2001] 1 SLR 566, the advocate and solicitor had taken advantage of an emotionally vulnerable client and allowed his self-interest in initiating and maintaining ......
  • CASE NOTE:LAW SOCIETY OF SINGAPORE v SINGHAM DENNIS MAHENDRAN [2001] 1 SLR 566
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal Nbr. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...of the Act has never been before the courts until recently in Law Society of Singapore v Singham Dennis Mahendran (“the Respondent”)[2001] 1 SLR 566. This is the first case in Singapore of an advocate and solicitor facing disciplinary action for sexual misconduct. The Case: A Disciplinary C......

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