A Good Settlement for the Legal Profession
As members know, I met with Mr Subhas Anandan to try to resolve the differences he had with Council. This was achieved with the assistance (and prodding of course) of Senior Counsel Mr Giam Chin Toon, a very respected past President. My very special thanks to him and others who were involved in the background.
About 70 out of the 88 signatories agreed to the settlement, although I had hoped that the remaining 18 could also have come on board for the settlement. Nonetheless, I consider this to be a very worthwhile settlement. First, I think this settlement will hopefully heal the wounds caused by the requisition and the unfortunate press publicity. Second, Council would want to get back to the business of managing the Society, as there are many important things to do in the light of the changing legal landscape.
For those Members of the Society who were and remain concerned about the ability of Council to manage the affairs of the Society after this episode, I would like to assure them that the settlement in no way dilutes the statutory powers and responsibilities of Council. Indeed the settlement notes that the signatories “accept that Council has management of the Society and its funds” and that “Council is accountable to Members in accordance with the provisions of the LPA.” There is no blank-cheque accountability.
In addition, Council remains the proper body to decide whether or not the Travel policy should remain or be varied. The review of the Travel policy after the AGM is left to Council and not to Members, as was previously sought by the signatories.
So there has been no dilution of the statutory powers and responsibilities of Council.
In explaining the terms of the settlement, I want to emphasise that it is not my intention to criticise any of the signatories. I have known some of the signatories for many years, and remain on friendly terms with them. Indeed, even after the requisition had been served and before the settlement was achieved, I had the opportunity to chat with some of the signatories when I met them. I want to thank the signatories for making the settlement, and I look forward to their continuing interest in the Society. I would of course encourage them to speak to Council before they speak to the press.
The Announcement of the settlement is re-produced below for reference:
The Law Society of Singapore is pleased to announce that in the interest of unity and the good name of the profession, most of the Signatories (around 70 of them) (the “Consenting Signatories”) to the Requisition dated 26 January 2011 have informed Mr Subhas that they have agreed to withdraw their Requisition for an Extraordinary General Meeting (“EGM”) seeking a vote of no confidence against the President, the Vice-Presidents and Council of the Law Society (“Council”). None of the Signatories approached by Mr Subhas has objected to the said withdrawal.
The Consenting Signatories have also stated that they accept that Council has management of the Society and its funds.
However, the Consenting Signatories maintain the right to ask on matters of accounts at Annual General Meetings of the Society (“AGM”) when the annual accounts are presented. Council will consider the views of Members given at such meetings and accepts that Council is accountable to Members in accordance with the provisions of the LPA.
In the interest of unity and the good name of the profession, Council will not continue to implement its recent decision over the Business Class Travel policy (“Travel policy”) until the next AGM to be held in October 2011. Council would in its usual way consider the views expressed at the AGM and proceed to make its decision thereafter whether to vary or ratify its earlier decision on the Travel policy. The Consenting Signatories will not be moving a motion at the AGM in regard to these issues.
In the circumstances, Council will cancel the scheduled town hall meeting but will if necessary provide more information to Members on the Travel policy.
Wong Meng Meng, Senior Counsel
The Law Society of Singapore