Law Society offers no proof of
misconduct by Jeyaretnam
Straits Times. Jan 24, 1998
A DISCIPLINARY committee set up to hear Justice Lai Kew Chai's complaint of professional misconduct against Mr J. B.Jeyaretnam over the Tang Liang Hong saga met yesterday, Jeyaretnam but the counsel for the Law Society reported that he had no evidence to offer the committee.
The society's spokesman told the Straits Times that the committee would be submitting a report on the matter to the society and the chief justice, as it was required to do so under the law.
It could, the spokesman added, dismiss the judge's complaint, or get the society to reprimand Mr Jeyaretnam, or refer the matter to a three-judge court.
Mr Jeyaretnam was referred to the society by Justice Lai last March because of his client's application to stop the judge from hearing the defamation suits filed against Mr Tang by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and several other leaders of the People's Action Party.
The referral was made because Mr Jeyaretnam and Mr Tang, who alleged that the judge could be biased because of his close working relationship with Mr Lee, had allegedly attacked the integrity of the High Court and failed in their professional duties as lawyers to defend the court's integrity.
But a three-judge Court of Appeal ruled last November that Mr Jeyaretnam, who received instructions from his client who was overseas, had hardly any time to check or verify the affidavit filed by Mr Tang.
"In any case, we think it would be placing an unduly onerous burden on counsel on every instance to verify the truth or otherwise of what their clients have deposed to, in affidavit ...
"The question before us is simply whether Mr Jeyaretnam's conduct in the application was, prima facie, plainly unjustifiable, taking into account all the relevant circumstances. We think not," it said.
In a statement yesterday, Mr Jeyaretnam said he had asked for the complaint to be dismissed since the society could offer no evidence.
He cited the committee's chairman as saying it would report to the Chief Justice that it was unable to make any findings.
The society's spokesman, however, replied that it was inaccurate for Mr Jeyaretnam to say that the committee could not make any findings.
While the society had decided not to offer any evidence, the committee was still required by the law to submit a report on the matter to the Chief Justice, he added.