The Law Society (LawSoc) on Thursday (Aug 13) pushed to have lawyer Lee Suet Fern struck off the roll for professional misconduct over the handling of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s final will.
Mrs Lee, the wife of Lee Kuan Yew’s son Lee Hsien Yang, has been a lawyer for more than 37 years and is listed online as a director at Morgan Lewis Stamford.
Mrs Lee’s lawyers, Senior Counsels Kenneth Tan and former Attorney-General Walter Woon, urged the court to dismiss all the charges against her, arguing that Mr Lee Kuan Yew knew what he was doing.
They added that Mrs Lee merely played an “administrative role” in facilitating her father-in-law’s wishes.
The Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body dealing with lawyers’ misconduct, heard arguments from both sides for five hours on Thursday before reserving judgment. The Court of Three Judges which comprises of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash and Justice Woo Bih Li will unveil its decision at a later date.
Mrs Lee’s lawyers argued that she had merely forwarded a copy of the first will that she had obtained from her husband Lee Hsien Yang, and was not involved in actually handling the will.
Referring to Lee Kuan Yew as MM or Minister Mentor, Prof Woon said: “(Even if there’s a) technical breach … it still goes back to the question, in that case, is there any meaningful sanction? MM was himself a lawyer. He was a brilliant lawyer. A will is not a complex document. He read it, he understood it.”
“It’s quite clear MM knew what he was doing. There is no reason for imposition of sanctions of any sort under the Legal Profession Act,” said Prof Woon.
Prof Woon said that the inference that Lee Kuan Yew had been tricked was “improbable in the extreme”, saying it was unacceptable for the tribunal to criticise Mrs Lee and her husband’s integrity without clear evidence to support its conclusions.
“He read the will, he signed the will, initialed on every page, called for it the following day, told his personal assistant to send it to (Ms Kwa) and tell her it’s the agreement among the siblings,” said Prof Woon.
“The inescapable inference is that this is exactly what MM wants. If this is the case, the disciplinary tribunal was wrong to criticise (Mrs Lee) and accuse her of lying, wrong to criticise Lee Hsien Yang and accuse him of lying”, he said.
Last January, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) referred Lee Suet Fern to the Law Society for her alleged role in preparing the will of Singapore’s first PM. The AGC said that this was a conflict of interest, and was a breach of the rules governing the conduct of lawyers because her husband was a beneficiary of the will, which was signed by the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 17 December 2013. /TISG
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