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Lim Tean seeks trial adjournment after discharging lawyer, says he's 'busy with presidential campaign'

Lim Tean seeks trial adjournment after discharging lawyer, says he's 'busy with presidential campaign'
Lim Tean arriving at State Courts on July 3, 2023. He told the court that he intended to engage a new lawyer.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE — Lawyer Lim Tean, who is accused of offences including acting as an advocate or solicitor even though he was not authorised to do so at the time, discharged his defence counsel on Tuesday (Aug 29), which was supposed to be the first day of his trial.

Lim, 58, who is also an opposition politician, told the court that he intended to engage a new lawyer, and asked for the trial to be adjourned to a later date.

He told Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun that lawyer Sankar Saminathan had represented him throughout the proceedings.

Lim added that he decided to discharge Mr Sankar as they had fundamental disagreements on how to handle his defence.

Lim, who is the founder of Peoples Voice party, is claiming trial to three charges under the Legal Profession Act.

 A search on the Ministry of Law website reveals he is currently the sole proprietor of Carson Law Chambers.

Lim is accused of acting as an advocate or solicitor on multiple occasions between April and June 2021, even though he was not authorised to do so.

Among other things, he attended a court hearing on April 19, 2021, as legal representative of Xu Yuanchen — better known as Terry Xu, the then editor of sociopolitical website The Online Citizen — in a case involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.


Every solicitor who wishes to act in the capacity of an advocate and solicitor must apply for a practising certificate, according to the Singapore Courts website.

"For every practice year, every solicitor must apply for a practising certificate before acting in the capacity of an advocate and solicitor. The term 'practice year' means the period from April 1 in any calendar year to March 31 in the next calendar year," the website states.

Lim is also accused of other offences, including harassment and criminal breach of trust. These will be dealt with at a later date.

On Tuesday, he told Judge Ong that the prosecution's bundle of documents was served to him only last week, adding that he did not know the reason for such delay.

Lim said: "It is a thick bundle, and I will need time to engage a new counsel to go through the material, and certain other applications may have to be made."

Without revealing any names, he told the court that he had been very involved in campaigning for one of the presidential contenders and hardly had any time to prepare for the trial.

The Straits Times had earlier reported that Lim was the seconder of presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian.

On Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Edwin Soh said the bundle of documents was indeed served last week but added that there was no timeline for the prosecution to serve it.

DPP Soh also said the bundle contained documents that are familiar to Lim, such as the latter's practising certificate and the documents Lim had prepared.

Stressing that Lim's application to adjourn the trial should be denied, the prosecutor told the judge: "The prosecution submits that this move is just a delaying tactic... I understand Mr Lim Tean is also a very experienced lawyer, he should be able to conduct his trial himself."

After hearing both sides, Judge Ong asked Lim to engage a new lawyer by Wednesday to represent him during the trial.

The judge also said that Lim was qualified to represent himself in court. The proceedings were then adjourned to Wednesday.

Lim made the headlines earlier this month when he was found guilty by a disciplinary tribunal of two counts of grossly improper conduct in the discharge of his professional duty.

This involved $30,000 belonging to his former client, who had discharged him from a case regarding a motor vehicle accident claim.

Lim faces possible disciplinary action for retaining a cheque for that amount after he was discharged, then failing to pay the sum into his firm's client account.

He will face the Court of Three Judges, which can suspend, disbar or fine lawyers.

ALSO READ: Tan Kin Lian launches presidential bid, names Tan Jee Say and Lim Tean as proposer, seconder

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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