Justice Chao to be senior judge of Supreme Court

Justice Chao Hick Tin retired as a judge of appeal on Sept 28 after more than 50 years of public service. In his new appointment, Justice Chao will be a senior judge in the Court of Appeal.
Justice Chao Hick Tin retired as a judge of appeal on Sept 28 after more than 50 years of public service. In his new appointment, Justice Chao will be a senior judge in the Court of Appeal.PHOTO: SUPREME COURT OF SINGAPORE

Retired judge of appeal will begin his three-year term next month

Justice Chao Hick Tin will be appointed senior judge of the Supreme Court, among other changes to the Bench announced yesterday.

Justice Chao, who retired as a judge of appeal on Sept 28 after more than 50 years in the public service, will begin his three-year term as senior judge from Jan 5 next year.

Meanwhile, Justice Andrew Ang, Justice Tan Lee Meng and Justice Lai Siu Chiu will be reappointed senior judges for another three years, said the statement from the Supreme Court.

The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Jan 8 at the Istana.

The position of senior judges was introduced in 2015, with former Supreme Court judges reappointed to the Bench for a term of three years. During their tenure, these judges hear civil cases and other hearings such as urgent applications and various types of appeals to the High Court. They are assigned to handle specific cases or a class of cases as determined by the Chief Justice.

Justice Chao, 75, started his career as state counsel in the Attorney-General's Chambers in 1967.

He became senior state counsel in 1979, and was later appointed judicial commissioner in 1987. Three years later, he was elevated to a High Court judge, and subsequently became a judge of appeal in 1999.

Between 2006 and 2008, he served as attorney-general, before returning to the Supreme Court as judge of appeal and vice-president of the Court of Appeal.

In his new appointment, Justice Chao will be a senior judge in the Court of Appeal.

Justice Ang, 71, was appointed judicial commissioner in 2004 and elevated to a High Court judge the following year.

He began his legal career as a lecturer at the then University of Singapore's law faculty in 1972, and joined Lee & Lee in 1974. He became a partner at the law firm in 1975. A year after he retired in 2014, he returned to the Supreme Court as a senior judge.

Justice Tan, 69, joined the Supreme Court as a judicial commissioner in 1997 and was appointed a judge in the same year.

He retired in 2013 and became a senior judge in 2015. He was previously dean of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Law Faculty, from 1987 to 1992, and appointed deputy vice-chancellor of NUS in 1992.

Justice Lai, 69, became the first woman to be appointed judicial commissioner in 1991, after her years in private practice.

She later became the first woman judge of the Supreme Court in 1994.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court also said Justice Chan Sek Keong and Justice Kan Ting Chiu will complete their terms as senior judges on Jan 4.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, in the statement, thanked Justice Chan, 80, and Justice Kan, 71, for their contributions. He said Justice Chan had served with distinction and made significant contributions as a judge of appeal and a judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court.

"I am deeply grateful." he added.

"I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Justice Kan for his considerable contribution as a senior judge, including in handling urgent applications and several High Court trials," he said.

With these changes, the number of senior judges at the Supreme Court stands at four.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2017, with the headline 'Justice Chao to be senior judge of Supreme Court'. Print Edition | Subscribe