Law Society clears 'misperception' over access to Lee Suet Fern proceedings

Lawyer Lee Suet Fern was found guilty of grossly improper professional conduct by a disciplinary tribunal.
Lawyer Lee Suet Fern was found guilty of grossly improper professional conduct by a disciplinary tribunal.

The Law Society made clear yesterday that a record of the disciplinary tribunal (DT) proceedings involving lawyer Lee Suet Fern is officially available from the Disciplinary Tribunal Secretariat and not the society itself.

The DT Secretariat is set up by the Supreme Court to provide administrative support to a tribunal.

In response to media queries, the society said "to correct a lingering public misperception, the Law Society is neither a repository of the DT proceedings nor is it statutorily obliged to furnish copies of the same to members of the public".

A member of the public may buy a copy of the proceedings for a fee from the DT Secretariat.

"In short, the DT Secretariat is the proper port of call to make public the record of the DT proceedings pursuant to Section 93(6) of the Legal Profession Act," said the Law Society.

A tribunal had found Mrs Lee guilty of grossly improper professional conduct and had ruled the case be referred to the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body for lawyers.

The case centres on the role Mrs Lee played in the preparation and execution of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's last will, which was signed on Dec 17, 2013.

Mr Lee, who was her father-in-law, died on March 23, 2015, at the age of 91.

In comments that her husband Lee Hsien Yang shared on his Facebook page last month, Mrs Lee said she disagreed with the tribunal's report and aims to "fight this strongly when it is heard in open court".

Mr Lee Hsien Yang is the younger son of the late Mr Lee and the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In the same post, Mrs Lee said that any member of the public can obtain the entire record of the closed-door proceedings of the tribunal from the Law Society - an apparent "misperception" which the society has now clarified.

In addition, the Law Society said that in accordance with its public information duties as provided in the Legal Profession Act, it has published the DT's report in the February 2020 issue of the Singapore Law Gazette, which can be accessed online.

The Court of Three Judges could take at least six months from the date of filing to hear the case.

Mrs Lee could be fined, suspended or disbarred as a lawyer if the charges are made out, or exonerated if not.

During the show-cause hearing, the Court of Three Judges will review the entire proceedings.

"After the Law Society's show cause application in the Supreme Court comes up for hearing before the Court of Three Judges (an open court hearing), such court proceedings will become public," said the society.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2020, with the headline 'Law Society clears 'misperception' over access to Lee Suet Fern proceedings'. Print Edition | Subscribe