Doctor: M. Ravi unfit to practise law due to bipolar disorder

Photo above: Lawyer M. Ravi is being investigated by the Law Society after he had an outburst during a 2010 press conference in which he tried to correct inaccuracies in the reporting of statements he made in the case of a former client.

The Law Society of Singapore has received a letter from lawyer M. Ravi's psychiatrist, deeming him "currently unfit to practise law".

It was dated Monday, the day the High Court began hearing the Hougang by-election case.

Mr Ravi, 43 , was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006 and has been taking medication for it.

The letter, apparently written by Dr Calvin Fones, a consultant psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, appeared in a photo posted on the Facebook page of The Online Citizen Monday evening.

In it, the doctor claimed to have reviewed Mr Ravi's case following "concerns raised by friends about his recent moods and behaviours".

The letter said Mr Ravi was "having a manic relapse", which was likely to have occurred over the past two weeks. Bipolar disorder is characterised by manic and depressive episodes.

The doctor apparently wrote: "I tried to reason with Mr Ravi to convince him to take a break from practice and take medication to address his relapsed condition but he refused. He lacks any insight into his condition, as is often the case for many patients who relapse.

"He is currently unfit to practise law and his illness is likely to affect his professional capacity.

"I hope to be able to engage him voluntarily in treatment, but would advise that if he remains very uncooperative, we may have to impose the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act upon him."

The New Paper could not reach the doctor for further comment.

The Law Society confirmed the receipt of the letter.

A spokesman said: "At the hearing Tuesday morning, the Law Society informed the judge of the contents of the letter as it felt that it was in the public interest to do so, and as officers of the court. To be clear, there was no application whatsoever by the Law Society to, in any way, prevent Mr Ravi from appearing in court."

He added that the Law Society was still "looking into" the letter as it received it only on Monday.

The Law Society would not comment on the contents of the letter as it involved a member's confidential medical records.

The spokesman also declined to comment on the issue of whether Mr Ravi's mental state would have any impact on the ongoing court case or on his legal practice, due to obligations to maintain confidentiality.

Mr Ravi's career has been marked by unstable behaviour. He has a conviction for disorderly behaviour and has made news for his outbursts in court.

In 2006, he was suspended from practising for a year, and he was involved in a spate of incidents in August 2008.

He caused disturbances at Masjid Jamae Chulia mosque and the Sri Mariamman Hindu temple, both in South Bridge Road.

He went into remand for three weeks at the Institute of Mental Health on Aug 18, 2008, and was fined $8,000 for his offences.

Mr Ravi has also taken on high-profile cases, including the defence of British author Alan Shadrake, who was sentenced to six weeks' jail and a fine of $20,000 in 2010 for contempt of court and for scandalising the judiciary in his book Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice In The Dock.

When contacted Monday night, Mr Ravi declined to comment on the letter.

This article was first published in The New Paper .