Unauthorised appeal notice: Law grad fined

Lydiawaty was fined $2,000 yesterday for preparing a notice of appeal for a car trader in expectation of a gain when she was an unauthorised person under the Legal Profession Act.
Lydiawaty was fined $2,000 yesterday for preparing a notice of appeal for a car trader in expectation of a gain when she was an unauthorised person under the Legal Profession Act.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

She wanted discount for several cars she was eyeing but was not authorised to draft appeal

For helping a car trader write a legal appeal, law graduate Lydiawaty Ab Rahman, 32, wanted a discount for several cars she had been eyeing.

Instead she was fined $2,000 yesterday for preparing a notice of appeal for Mr Pang Yok Suang of Pang's Motor Trading in expectation of a gain when she was an unauthorised person.

The gain was in the form of the discount she wanted.

Lydiawaty, who graduated from National University of Singapore in 2008 and gained a Master of Laws from Queen's University in Canada in 2010, had admitted to preparing the legal document for Mr Pang. It was for an appeal proceedings before the Competition Appeal Board.

Mr Pang was appealing against a financial penalty of $50,733 imposed on his firm by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) which had found his firm and 11 others engaged in bid rigging at auctions of motor vehicles.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo said Lydiawaty contacted Mr Pang in August 2013 and said she was a lawyer working in OCBC, was an expert in commercial law, and could help him with his CCS case. She agreed to help him draft the notice of appeal for free, but was looking for a discount from Mr Pang for a car she wished to buy for her birthday.

She passed the notice of appeal to Mr Pang on Sept 5, and he signed an acknowledgement without reading it carefully.

On Sept 7, she e-mailed Mr Pang with a list of the five cars she was interested in and discounts she expected, ranging from $10,688 to $24,000.

When they could not agree on the discount for any of the proposed cars, she sent him an "invoice" on Sept 31 for $47,094 for services rendered. She also included in the invoice a line that all late payments were subject to a late payment premium of 10 per cent per day.

When Mr Pang did not pay the amount, she sent him an "Invoice and Final Reminder" almost a year later stating that he had incurred a debt of $1.46 million in outstanding fees and interest on late payment.

When Mr Pang again did not pay, she hired two licensed debt-collection companies to harass him into paying up.

She also took out bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Pang, who managed to set it aside through his lawyer. Lydiawaty was ordered to pay $2,700 costs to Mr Pang, who has not received a single cent. The matter was eventually referred to the Law Society.

Meanwhile, Lydiawaty had been tried in a separate case for allegedly causing hurt, using criminal force, threatening and cutting a then 19-year-old girl's forearm with a knife twice at her apartment in Jalan Novena Barat on Feb 10, 2014. A verdict is expected on Jan 6.

She could have been fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to three months for the offence under the Legal Profession Act.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2016, with the headline 'Unauthorised appeal notice: Law grad fined'. Print Edition | Subscribe