Court of Appeal reserves judgment over complaint against Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer

Abraham Vergis, S.C. and Asiyah Arif recently represented the executor of the Estate of Mr Lee Kuan Yew at a hearing before a specially-constituted 5-Judge coram of the Court of Appeal to address the Court on a novel issue relating to the powers of the Council of the Law Society of Singapore under the Legal Profession Act.

Providence Law Asia LLC acted for Mr Lee Hsien Yang in his capacity as an executor of the estate of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In 2019, the executors of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s estate had filed a complaint to the Law Society of Singapore regarding the conduct of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s solicitor in relation to actions taken by her in her capacity as Mr Lee’s solicitor in respect of his wills. The complaint was referred to an inquiry committee (“IC”), which initially recommended that one of the heads of complaint (which is the subject of the appeal) be referred for formal investigation under Section 87(1) of the LPA.

The Council of the Law Society referred the matter back to the IC for reconsideration, whereupon the IC reversed its earlier decision and recommended that the head of complaint be dismissed. The executors made an application to the High Court under Section 96(1) of the LPA, on the grounds that Section 87(2)(a) of the LPA, properly interpreted and understood, limited the Council’s powers under Section 87(1) to referring a matter for formal investigation where an IC had made such a recommendation, and the Council was not entitled to ask the IC to reconsider its findings/recommendations.

The Honourable Justice Valerie Thean heard parties’ arguments and agreed with the executors’ interpretation, holding that it was  procedurally wrong for the Law Society council to refer a matter back to the IC for reconsideration after the IC had recommended that a matter be formally investigated. The Law Society appealed against the decision, and requested that the matter be placed before the Court of Appeal as it related to a novel question of law of public importance. Judgment has been reserved.

Details can be found here