Remember Lim Tean?
Besides being a lawyer, he founded the opposition party, Peoples Voice.
However, he has faced many controversies throughout his time in the spotlight.
On 22 August, it was reported that he was found guilty of improper conduct as a lawyer.
The case involved $30,000 belonging to a former client.
The client had discharged Mr Lim from a case regarding a motor vehicle accident claim.
However, Mr Lim retained a cheque of $30,000 after he was discharged.
He failed to pay the sum into his firm’s client account.
On 22 August, a disciplinary tribunal report was published detailing the case.
Mr Lim’s ex-client, Mr Suresh Kumar A. Jesupal, appointed him on 23 October 2018.
He was to act for Mr Suresh Kumar in the accident claim.
On 8 October 2019, he was given $50,000 in a judgment issued on the case.
Mr Suresh Kumar appointed Joseph Chen & Co on 13 November 2019 after discharging Mr Lim.
Notably, the report did not reveal the reason behind his discharge.
Joseph Chen & Co sent a letter to Carson Law Chambers, Mr Lim’s firm, that same day to inform him that Mr Suresh Kumar had discharged him.
Joseph Chen & Co said that Mr Suresh Kumar had instructed it to take over the case and all other proceedings.
The following day, solicitors for the defendant in Mr Suresh Kumar’s case, Willy Tay Chambers, sent Carson Law Chambers a cheque for $30,000 as interim payment for the judgment sum.
However, on 23 March 2020, Mr Suresh Kumar submitted a complaint against Mr Lim.
The complaint was brought before an inquiry committee.
The Law Society of Singapore council determined that a disciplinary tribunal should conduct a formal investigation.
Initially, The Law Society claimed that Mr Lim had misappropriated the $30,000 by neglecting to pay Mr Suresh Kumar, bringing him a third charge.
However, the charge was withdrawn as Mr Suresh Kumar declined to provide evidence for the prosecution.
On Mr Lim’s end, he claimed that Mr Suresh Kumar continued to go to the Carson Law Chambers’ office for meetings even after sending the letter regarding the change in solicitors.
In addition, Mr Lim claimed that there was an agreement where Mr Suresh Kumar was to pay the proceeds of the judgment sum to his creditor and Mr Lim before receiving any money.
The tribunal found that Mr Lim was well aware of his discharge by 14 November 2019 but still deposited the cheque into his firm’s bank account instead of the firm’s client account.
The tribunal commented, “[Mr Lim’s] act was not accidental or inadvertent but a deliberate one. No evidence has been presented by [Mr Lim] as to what actually happened to the money thereafter.”
According to the tribunal, Mr Lim did not disclose that Carson Law Chambers had the cheque when he responded to the letter sent by Mr Suresh Kumar’s new lawyers.
It added, “The inference is that [Mr Lim] had intentionally kept this fact from Joseph Chen & Co and/or [Mr Suresh Kumar’ until after he had dealt with the proceeds.”
While Mr Lim admitted to paying the cheque to his law firm’s bank account, he argued that his neglect was not an attempt to breach the rules but an oversight.
He argued that this oversight should not amount to grossly improper conduct or conduct unbefitting of an advocate or a solicitor.
However, the tribunal noted that the requirement for a law firm to have a client account has been in effect for numerous years.
Furthermore, this requirement aims to protect the client’s money and prevent the mixing of clients’ money with other funds.
Thus, the tribunal concluded that it “finds it difficult to believe that [Mr Lim], despite having been a lawyer for 30 years, did not know of the requirement to have a client account, or that he had to pay clients’ money into this account”.
Mr Lim now faces possible disciplinary action.
He will face the Court of Three Judges.
The Court of Three Judges can suspend, disbar or fine lawyers.
Who is Lim Tean?
You may know him as the founder of Peoples Voice, an opposition party that started in 2018.
It contested Jalan Besar and Pasir-Punggol GRCS and the Mountbatten SMC in the 2020 General Election.
However, the party did not win any seats.
Before Peoples Voice, Mr Lim joined the National Solidarity Party in 2011.
Lim Tean and His Various Controversies
Despite being a lawyer, Mr Lim has previously been charged with multiple legal boo-boos.
On 12 May 2022, he was handed five charges in court for multiple offences.
The charges were for criminal breach of trust, unlawful stalking and acting as an advocate or solicitor without a valid practising certificate.
In September 2022, he was handed two more charges.
He was charged with refusing to answer a public servant’s questions and a second count of criminal breach of trust as an attorney.
Regarding the unlawful stalking charge, Mr Lim had allegedly stalked a former employee between April and May 2020.
He apparently sent her flirtatious text messages repeatedly, causing her distress.
He also allegedly acted as a solicitor without a valid practising certificate.
Details about the former employee’s job were not revealed in court documents.
You would think that this only happened a few times, but he was accused of doing so on 66 separate occasions between 1 April and 9 June 2021.
The Singapore Courts website states, “Every solicitor who wants to act in the capacity of an advocate and solicitor must apply for a practising certificate.”
Regarding Mr Lim’s charge of acting as an advocate or solicitor without a valid practising certificate, he was the legal representative for The Online Citizen (TOC) editor Xu Yuanchen, better known as Terry Xu, in the infamous defamation case involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The date? 19 April 2021.
PM Lee had filed two defamation suits over an article published on the TOC website.
He also sued Xu and Ms Rubaashini Shunmuganathan, the Malaysian author of the fateful article.
Brushes with POFMA
On 2 July 2020, the Peoples Voice’s Facebook page was issued a Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) correction direction.
The video contained an untrue statement about the government’s expenditure on international students.
The POFMA Office also issued another correction direction to Mr Lim’s YouTube channel as the video was also posted on it.
Needless to say, Mr Lim has faced multiple run-ins with the law.
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