Lawyers face probe as appeal fails

SINGAPORE - Two lawyers face a professional misconduct probe after they failed in a court bid to have the proceedings called off.

Mr Manjit Singh and Mr Sree Govind Menon will be investigated by a disciplinary tribunal after their final appeal was dismissed.

The case was triggered by a complaint made in 2010 by art gallery owner Bernadette Rankine.

It relates to about $1.6 million that was entrusted to Mr Singh and $200,000 to Mr Menon, according to previous reports.

Disciplinary proceedings were started and then Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong appointed a disciplinary tribunal.

In November last year, Ms Rankine wrote to the Law Society to withdraw her complaint.

But it decided to continue with the proceedings anyway.

The two lawyers wrote to Chief Justice Chan urging him to revoke the appointment of the tribunal. He turned them down. They then applied for a judicial review to challenge his refusal.

After their application was dismissed in March, they took the case to the Court of Appeal.

The pair contended that the former chief justice had abdicated his duty under the Legal Profession Act by failing to consider their request to revoke the tribunal. But the appeal court rejected their arguments on Monday.

It found that the pair's conclusions were "unsound" and contrary to the evidence.

The three-judge court said that the disciplinary process cannot be held hostage to the whims of complainants, who may have personal reasons for changing their minds.

It added that the fact that a complaint was withdrawn does not necessarily mean there was no truth to it.

The court found that it was within the former chief justice's discretion to let the process take its course.

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