Summary of Disciplinary Committee Reports
Findings and Determination of the Disciplinary Committee
Pursuant to s 93(5) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161) (‘the Act’), the Council of the Law Society is required to publish the findings and determination of the Disciplinary Committee in The Singapore Law Gazette or in such other media as the Council may determine to adequately inform the public of the same.
This summary is published pursuant to the requirements of s 93(5) of the Act.
In the matter of Malcolm Tan Chun Chuen, an Advocate and Solicitor
The Disciplinary Committee (’DC’) found that while no cause of sufficient gravity exists for disciplinary action against Mr Malcolm Tan Chun Chuen (’Solicitor’) under s 83 of the Legal Profession Act (‘the Act’), the Solicitor should be reprimanded and ordered to pay costs to the Society of $ 3,500. Council of the Law Society accepted and adopted the findings and determination of the Disciplinary Committee.
The Solicitor was charged as follows:
That Malcolm Tan Chun Chuen was guilty of a breach of a rule of conduct made by Council of the Law Society under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161) as amounting to improper conduct or practice as an advocate and solicitor within the meaning of s 83(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161), in that in breach of Rule 64 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (Cap 161, R1) he accepted instructions in or around January 2004 to act as an advocate and solicitor for the Plaintiffs in Suit Number 202 of 2003 in the High Court of Singapore when at all material times he had reason to believe that he was likely to be a witness on a material question of fact in the said Suit.
The DC found the following mitigatory circumstances which reduced the gravity of the Solicitor’s guilt. The mitigating circumstances were:
1 The Solicitor sought initial oral guidance from the Law Society’s secretariat on whether he could act for the Plaintiffs;
2 He was only involved to a limited extent in his capacity as an advocate and solicitor in the initial conduct of the proceedings; and
3 He did not act dishonestly.
The DC found Rule 64 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules prohibited an advocate and solicitor who was a witness to a material question of fact in acting in the matter. It did not matter whether the solicitor in question was handling the matter principally or merely assisting. Once a solicitor has reason to believe that he is likely to be a witness on a material question of fact, he should not continue to act for the client.
The DC noted that the reason for Rule 64 was because an advocate and solicitor has a paramount duty to the court to testify to the truth, and this may conflict with his duty to act in the best interests of the client and thus an advocate and solicitor should not place himself in a position where the two interests could conflict.