Lawyer has to pay prosecution $1,000 in costs for filing "frivolous" appeals

Lawyer S K Kumar will have to pay $1,000 for filing a frivolous appeal.
Lawyer S K Kumar will have to pay $1,000 for filing a frivolous appeal. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A lawyer urged a court to mete out a three-week jail term for each of his four clients and succeeded in getting it, but later appealed against the very sentence he had asked for.

For filing the frivolous appeals, Mr S K Kumar has found himself $1,000 poorer after the prosecution invoked a provision to seeks costs against him personally for abusing the court process.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Bhajanvir Singh told the High Court on Wednesday (March 2) that Mr Kumar offered to pay $1,000 after the prosecution told him that it will be seeking a personal cost order against him.

The money will be donated to the Law Society's Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.

DPP Singh told the court that the prosecution will not hesitate to seek costs personally from counsel who file frivolous appeals, which disrupts the administration of justice.

Mr Kumar was not in court yesterday but instructed another lawyer to formally withdraw the four appeals.

He is the second lawyer here to personally bear the prosecution's costs. The first, Mr M Ravi, was ordered by the High Court to pay $1,000 in 2014 over an application he had made to quash charges against five men implicated in the 2013 Little India riot.

Unlike in civil suits, where the losing party usually pays costs to the winning side, costs are hardly awarded in criminal proceedings.

Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the court can order costs against defence counsel who incur unreasonable costs by failing to act with "competence and expedition".

In Mr Kumar's case, he represented four Bangladeshi construction workers, aged between 22 to 27, who assaulted a 25-year-old compatriot in April 2014 following a worksite dispute.

The four initially claimed trial but pleaded guilty to causing hurt in September last year.

The prosecution sought four weeks' jail for each of them but the district judge came down on the side of Mr Kumar, who asked for three weeks.

Despite this, he filed an appeal to the High Court, contending that three weeks' jail is manifestly excessive.

selinal@sph.com.sg