Lawyer M Ravi faces fine over professional misconduct

Mr M. Ravi had released court papers to the media before serving them on the Attorney-General.
Mr M. Ravi had released court papers to the media before serving them on the Attorney-General.

Activist lawyer M. Ravi is facing a $7,000 fine for releasing court documents to the media before serving them on the Attorney-General. The fine is also for issuing press statements meant to interfere with the cases.

A disciplinary tribunal, appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon to look into possible misconduct, recommended the penalty. In its report released yesterday, the tribunal, which comprised Senior Counsel Giam Chin Toon and lawyer Gina Lee-Wan, also ordered Mr Ravi to pay $3,000 in costs to the Law Society.

Mr Ravi's improper professional conduct involved cases of four clients brought against the Attorney-General.

One was a gay man's bid to get the courts to ban workplace discrimination against homosexuals. The other three were judicial reviews, including the deportation of a foreign worker involved in last December's Little India riot.

Senior Counsel Andre Yeap, acting for the Law Society, said Mr Ravi had released court papers and e-mailed press statements meant to interfere with the cases. The court papers were released to the media over five months from August last year, before they were served on the Attorney-General.

In March, the Attorney-General complained to the Law Society, which then applied to Chief Justice Menon for the tribunal.

At an early stage of the proceedings, Mr Ravi, a lawyer since 1997, had pleaded guilty to all seven charges, promising not to repeat his conduct. In April, Mr Ravi, 45, also issued a media statement in which he withdrew the various statements made, and also included an apology.

His lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam urged the tribunal to consider Mr Ravi's bi-polar condition, which is now under control but which sometimes leads him to act "uncharacteristically".

He added that Mr Ravi is a pro bono lawyer who contributes actively to society and that the cases he deals with involve general public interest which occasionally leads to emotions running high.

The tribunal, in recommending a fine of $1,000 per charge, accepted that Mr Ravi had shown remorse and that his acts of "over-enthusiasm" in representing his clients meant he "unwittingly overstepped the line".

The Law Society will consider the tribunal's recommendation.

vijayan@sph.com.sg