The “case” against the lawyer

June 29, 2006
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

So what is all the fuss about Mr M Ravi?

In a nutshell, the Law Society had to investigate a complaint against the lawyer that he was disrespectful to District Judge Wong Choon Ning during a court session. The problem with the complaint was that Mr Ravi had elected to apologise to the judge and the judge herself had elected to accept the apology and move on (to adopt an oft-used PAP term).

More importantly, Judge Wong had decided not to pursue the matter and chose not to give evidence against Mr Ravi. One would have thought that given the fact that the complainant had accepted the apology and decided not to give evidence, the case would be closed.

In fact, the Law Society had stated that it was not because it did not want to proceed with the case but that if “we don’t have an AEIC [Affidavit of Evidence in Chief] from the complainant [Judge Wong], it’s not very easy for us to proceed with these proceedings.”

Even a layperson can understand that a case cannot proceed if there is no evidence. Not that this bothered the Disciplinary Committee, which decided to go ahead with the matter and refer Mr Ravi to the Court of Three Judges.

Baffling? Not if you know (uniquely) Singapore.

Mr Ravi has written to the Law Society and made his position very clear. Below is his letter:

The President and the Council of the Law Society
Attention: Mr. Philip Jeyaretnam
The Law Society of Singapore
39 South Bridge Road
Singapore 058673

Dear Sir

I refer to the findings of the Disciplinary Committee (“DC”) in respect of the above matter, a copy of which you would have received.

The findings of the DC are completely contradictory to their recommendation.

Their recommendation to refer to the Court of Appeal of Three Judges cannot stand based on what they have stated. It is incumbent on the Law Society to rectify the defects in the entire proceedings that has caused serious injustice to me.

The DC has stated in paragraph 14 that:

“the correct approach then would be to either withdraw the entire Charge against the Respondent or proceed with the original Charge and leave the Committee to make its findings without the benefit of the Learned District Judge’s evidence, which could possibly lead to the Charge not being proved on the evidence, depending on whether there were other witnesses to the incident”.

From the above it can be seen that the DC had drawn the following conclusions:

a. The Law Society ought not to have proceeded with the Charge.
b. Even the original Charge without the benefit of the Learned District Judge‘s evidence would lead to the Charge not being proved.

I am in agreement with the findings of the Disciplinary Committee that the Law Society felt that I ought not to be referred to the Court of Appeal. I was all along given this impression.

I was taken aback during the DC hearing when the Law Society chose to be silent when the DC asked what was their position with regard to the appropriate sanction.

Be that as it may, there is a serious miscarriage of justice based on the glaring errors on the face of the record itself.

The DJ had accepted my apology and had elected not to give evidence. Whilst chiding the Law Society for not having understood the legal implications, the DC have decided to go beyond the amended Charge which is wrong in law, and concluded that I ought to be referred to the Court of Appeal.

I wish to highlight to the Law Society that the DC has stated in no uncertain terms that the Law Society had misdirected itself.

As a result of a series of misdirections, I am now a victim.

I humbly urge the Law Society to apply to the Court to quash the findings of the DC and take responsibility for the misdirection on the part of The Law Society.

It is surprising that I have to write to you to take these steps, when the duty to do so lies squarely on your shoulders.

Yours faithfully,
M Ravi

cc. Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
United Nations Rapporteur For Human Rights
Members of European Parliament
American Bar Association
International Commission of Jurists
International Bar Association