PAP MP & Lawyer Christopher de Souza Found Guilty of Professional Misconduct While Acting for His Clients


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As most of us may know, some Members of Parliament (MPs) have other jobs apart from being an MP, but these “other jobs” usually don’t garner as much attention for the MPs as compared to their MP title.

However, this time, it’s quite different.

Christopher de Souza, a People’s Action Party (PAP) MP, has recently been found guilty of professional misconduct while working as a lawyer.

He was found to be guilty after a disciplinary tribunal was set up to investigate the matter.

Regarding the case, Mr de Souza was found to have acted inappropriately and unprofessionally when representing Amber Compounding Pharmacy and Amber Laboratories (Amber), his clients whose case he had taken over.

In particular, he had failed to be completely honest with the court even after finding out that his client had breached the conditions of a search order issued to them.

And apart from his role as an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, he is also the deputy speaker of Parliament.

 

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s been made known thus far.

If you’ve only 30 seconds, you can watch this video instead:

@goodyfeed What happened to PAP MP Christopher de Souza? #goodyfeed #goodynewsreel ♬ original sound – Goody Feed

How the Case was Brought to Light

Firstly, a letter dated 9 September 2020 was sent by the deputy registrar of the Supreme Court to the Law Society of Singapore on behalf of the Court of Appeal.

The letter included a complaint regarding Mr de Souza’s unprofessional behaviour when he represented Amber in a High Court suit.


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Amber’s High Court suit was filed in 2018.

After receiving the complaint, an independent inquiry committee convened on 13 January last year to discuss the issue. It agreed that Mr de Souza had “breached his paramount duty to the court” and that he should be fined $2,000 based on the Legal Profession Act.

They also added that a formal investigation by a disciplinary tribunal was unnecessary.

However, the Law Society council had a differing opinion and believed that a tribunal should be set up to investigate the issue.

After requesting the appointment of a disciplinary tribunal from Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on 5 November 2021, the Chief Justice appointed a two-person tribunal to take charge of the investigations and hearings on 19 November 2021.

Did Not Expose Client After Taking Over the Case, Helped File Affidavit

After Mr de Souza and Lee & Lee, his law firm, took over Amber’s case, he soon discovered that Amber was carrying out breaches.

For context, Amber’s case was related to the fact that they had utilised information found during a search order in 2018 to craft reports that they passed to multiple investigative agencies.

They were then told not to use the information, which came in documents, without further order. However, Amber breached this rule.

He even aided Amber in preparing an affidavit which obstructed the truth that Amber had breached its undertaking by not including several vital documents.

The affidavit was filed on 28 January by Mr Samuel Sudesh Thaddaeus, a representative from Amber.


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With regards to his actions, the tribunal pointed out that the most critical point to discuss is what actions Mr de Souza should have taken after discovering that his client had committed such a breach, “and specifically whether he should have informed the court and opposing counsel of the breach of the undertakings”.

de Souza “Knew What He Should Have Done”

The tribunal, consisting of Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan and Mr Pradeep Pillai, highlighted in their report published yesterday (5 November) that Mr de Souza did know that he was supposed to reveal that Amber had used the documents and information.

“We are of the view that the failure to make such full and frank disclosure amounted to suppression of evidence by Amber, and by filing the supporting affidavit, the respondent was a party to and assisted in such suppression,” the tribunal explained.

Out of the five charges that The Law Society brought against Mr de Souza, the tribunal only deemed one of the charges to have “sufficient cause” and dropped the other four charges.

As for the one charge that remains, Mr de Souza will face disciplinary sanction before the Court of Three Judges, which has the authority to suspend or disbar lawyers.

Whether or not Mr de Souza will face any sanctions will be determined in a subsequent hearing.


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The Tribunal’s Court Proceedings

As for how the tribunal court proceedings went, oral testimonies were presented to the tribunal between 6 and 12 April this year.

After that, closing submissions were submitted on 29 August.

The tribunal also accepted Mr de Souza’s argument that he had attempted to convince his client to tell the truth but noted that his client’s failure to do so did not mean that Mr de Souza himself was thus not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Mr de Souza was also ordered to pay $18,000 in costs to The Law Society, along with other “reasonable disbursements”.

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Lawyers’ Response

When approached, Mr de Souza’s lawyers insisted that their client acted with “utmost integrity” throughout the entire incident and that it was clearly so since four out of the five charges were dismissed.


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The lawyers, who are from WongPartnership, added that the sanctions are up to the Court of Three Judges. However, they will continue to fight for the dismissal of the last charge.

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