Two lawyers suspended for professional misconduct

A lawyer who asked a fellow practitioner to certify a lasting power of attorney (LPA) which would give her sister, SA Tours managing director Kay Swee Pin, the power to act on behalf of her de facto husband, was yesterday suspended from practice for 21/2 years.

Ms Kay Swee Tuan had asked Mr Sum Chong Mun, whose firm was on the same floor as hers, after her signature was rejected because of her relationship to the donee.

An LPA is a legal document which allows a person, known as a donor, to appoint another, known as a donee, to make decisions on his behalf should he lose the mental capacity to do so.

Mr Sum agreed to sign the form after she assured him she had witnessed the signature of the donor, Mr Ng Kong Yeam, and had explained the document to him.

In fact, it was Ms Kay Swee Pin who had signed on Mr Ng's behalf.

For signing the form without witnessing Mr Ng's signature or certifying he understood the document, Mr Sum was suspended for a year.

The suspensions were meted out by a Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body for the legal profession. The case was referred to the court after a disciplinary tribunal found the pair guilty of professional misconduct.

Ms Kay Swee Pin and Mr Ng , who have lived together for 30 years and have a daughter, are not legally married. Mr Ng has a wife and three children in Malaysia.

In 2012, Ms Kay Swee Pin and her daughter were appointed as Mr Ng's donees after the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) accepted the LPA application. In 2014, Mr Ng's Malaysian family, seeking to revoke the LPA, approached Mr Sum for his account of the events. The LPA was later cancelled by the OPG.

Yesterday, Mr Edric Pan, acting for the Law Society, noted that while Mr Sum has shown remorse, Ms Kay Swee Tuan continues to deny she had induced another lawyer to do something wrongful.

Mr Sum's lawyer, Mr Lim Kia Tong, said his "misstep" was led on by Ms Kay Swee Tuan's assurances. But her lawyer, Mr Chenthil Kumarasingam, argued that she had not pressured him to do it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Two lawyers suspended for professional misconduct'. Print Edition | Subscribe