SINGAPORE — Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Member of Parliament Christopher de Souza was cleared of improper professional conduct as a lawyer on Monday (31 July).
The 47-year-old, who is also the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, had been found guilty by a disciplinary tribunal in 2022 of helping a client suppress evidence from the court.
The Straits Times reported that on Monday in front of the Court of Three Judges – the highest disciplinary body for the legal profession in Singapore – the Law Society had argued for de Souza to be suspended for four years.
De Souza’s lawyer, on the other hand, urged the court to acquit him of the charge, arguing that the Law Society had persistently advanced a doggedly misconceived case.
The court, comprising Justices Belinda Ang, Woo Bih Li and Kannan Ramesh, said that the Law Society did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that de Souza had intended to help his client suppress evidence.
The court added that it was clear to them that de Souza did not intend to suppress the breach.
How the case arose
De Souza’s case related to his conduct while he was acting as a partner at law firm Lee & Lee for Amber Compounding Pharmacy and Amber Laboratories in a High Court suit.
Amber had obtained several documents through a search order in 2018. It used some of these documents to make reports to investigative agencies, and this breached its undertaking not to use them without further order.
An internal email showed de Souza was aware of Amber’s breaches even before his firm Lee & Lee took over the suit. Despite knowing this, he helped Amber representative Samuel Sudesh Thaddaeus file an affidavit on 28 January 2019 that did not reveal the breaches.
The Law Society had raised five charges against de Souza, but a disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of only one charge.
Arguments in Court of Three Judges
On Monday, the Court of Three Judges grilled both de Souza’s lead counsel, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, as well as Madan Assomull, who was representing the Law Society.
CNA reported that the court questioned Assomull on the framing of the charge, as well as on what Law Society’s precise case was as to de Souza’s intention to suppress evidence.
As for Tan, the court asked him about how the affidavit was drafted. Tan’s case was that the affidavit did disclose the wrongdoing, and that it simply could have been drafted in a clearer manner.
However, he argued that the lack of clarity did not mean an intention to assist Amber to suppress evidence.
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