Response by MinLaw to Article on Ravi Madasamy Receiving IBA Human Rights Award 2023
19 January 2024 Posted in Replies
- Dear Ms. Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama, President, International Bar Association,
- We refer to your article dated 2 November 2023 titled, “Singapore: Ravi Madasamy receives IBA Human Rights Award 2023” published at https://www.ibanet.org/Ravi-Madasamy-receives-IBA-Human-Rights-Award 2023.
- Your article alleges, among other things, that “Mr Madasamy’s challenging of the Singaporean government has led to periodic restrictions on his license to practise law, including the imposition of personal cost orders” and that he was “suspended from practising law for five years in Singapore courts for criticising the prosecution’s conduct”.
- These allegations are untrue. Various costs orders and suspensions against Mr Madasamy were imposed by the courts consequent to Mr Madasamy’s repeated instances of professional misconduct. A list of these instances is set out in Annex A of this letter. These include:
(a) In 2016, Mr Madasamy was sanctioned by a Disciplinary Tribunal for mishandling client monies and making inappropriate statements about his client on video. In the same year, he was found by the Court of Three Judges to have conducted himself deplorably in relation to the judiciary, his clients and the legal profession as a whole following an incident recorded on video where he made inappropriate and racially-charged statements at the Law Society of Singapore’s premises. Due to his repeated misconduct, Mr Madasamy was prohibited by the Court of Three Judges from applying for a practicing certificate for two years (paras 3 and 4 of Annex A).
(b) Mr Madasamy was subsequently allowed to return to legal practice under a conditional practicing certificate in 2019 which, among other things, mandated that he had to attend regular medical appointments to monitor his fitness to practice and act under the personal supervision of a supervising solicitor (para 4 of Annex A).
(c) In disregard of these conditions, Mr Madasamy continued to engage in professional misconduct on multiple occasions from 2020 to 2023, including: repeatedly abusing the courts’ processes; making baseless allegations of improper conduct against the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Law Society of Singapore; and making unfounded allegations of bias against Judges, in contempt of court (paras 5 to 9 of Annex A).
- We are disappointed in the IBA’s characterisation of the instances of misconduct by Mr Madasamy as challenges to the Government or the prosecutorial authorities of Singapore. Singapore’s laws and legal professional rules apply to all lawyers equally. Allegations that a lawyer has committed offences, breached professional conduct rules, or conducted cases in an improper manner, are treated seriously, in accordance with due process. For example, it will be serious misconduct in many jurisdictions, if a lawyer mishandles his clients’ monies, or makes improper allegations about his clients, or makes improper allegations about judges.
Director-General (International & Advisory)
Ministry of Law
19 January 2024
Annex A: Examples of improper and unprofessional conduct by Ravi Madasamy
- In 2012, a Disciplinary Tribunal found Mr Madasamy guilty of misconduct for accusing a High Court Judge of racial prejudice. He was ordered to pay a penalty of $3,000 and to bear $2,000 of the Law Society’s costs of those disciplinary proceedings.
- In 2014, a Disciplinary Tribunal found Mr Madasamy guilty of misconduct for prematurely releasing various court documents relating to legal proceedings to the media, prior to the documents being served on the other party to those proceedings, and for making certain statements to the media in respect of those legal proceedings which were calculated to interfere with the proceedings. He was ordered to pay a penalty of $7,000 and to bear $3,000 of the Law Society’s costs of those disciplinary proceedings.
- In 2016, a Disciplinary Tribunal found Mr Madasamy guilty of misconduct for failing to pay without delay his client’s money into the client’s account, and failing to make payment without delay to another law firm on behalf of his client. He was also found guilty of causing a video clip to be taken where he made inappropriate statements about his client to the public. He was ordered to pay a penalty of $7,000.
- In 2016, the Court of Three Judges prohibited Mr Madasamy from applying for a practicing certificate for two years. The prohibition was ordered because the Court found that Mr Madasamy had, during a hypomanic episode in 2015, conducted himself deplorably in relation to the judiciary, his clients and the legal profession as a whole. This included an incident recorded on video where he made inappropriate and racially-charged statements at the Law Society’s premises. Mr Madasamy later apologised for his behaviour and undertook to take down the video. The Court urged Mr Madasamy to continue to seek medical help and to keep to his medication regimen during the two-year period to work towards as full a recovery as possible, following which it would be open to him to apply for a practicing certificate to resume practice. Mr Madasamy was subsequently allowed to return to legal practice in 2019 under a conditional practicing certificate. Among other requirements, the conditional practicing certificate mandated that Mr Madasamy had to attend regular medical appointments to monitor his fitness to practice and act under the personal supervision of a supervising solicitor.
- In 2020, a Disciplinary Tribunal found Mr Madasamy guilty of misconduct for publishing baseless statements containing attacks on the impartiality and integrity of State Prosecutors in Singapore, and alleging bias against a Judge of the State Courts. He later apologised and withdrew his statements. He was ordered to pay a penalty of $10,000 and to bear $3,000 of the Law Society’s costs of those disciplinary proceedings.
- In 2020, Mr Madasamy was charged with criminal defamation for making a false and defamatory allegation that the Minister for Law and Home Affairs had claimed that the Minister wielded influence over the Chief Justice. Mr Madasamy subsequently published a statement where he apologised and admitted that the allegation was false. A warning was then issued to Mr Madasamy, in lieu of prosecution.
- In 2021 and 2022, personal costs orders against Mr Madasamy were imposed by the Court of Appeal and the High Court in multiple cases because he repeatedly abused the Courts’ processes. These cases included:
(a) Syed Suhail vin Syed Zin and others v Attorney-General  SGHC 270, in which the High Court ordered Mr Madasamy to pay costs of $10,000 as his conduct had been “plainly unreasonable” as the application was “wholly ill-conceived” with a “total absence of any legal foundation”.
(b) Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin v Public Prosecutor  2 SLR 377, in which the Court of Appeal ordered Mr Madasamy to pay costs of $5,000 as his conduct had been “wholly inappropriate” and there was a “complete absence of merit in the application”.
(c) Nagaenthran s/o K Dharmalingam v Attorney-General and another matter  2 SLR 668, in which the Court of Appeal held Mr Madasamy personally liable for costs of $15,000 as the proceedings constituted a “blatant and egregious abuse of the court’s processes” which were “baseless and without merit, both as a matter of fact and of law”. The Court also noted that there was “a manifest lack of good faith” in the conduct of the case by Mr Madasamy.
- In 2023, the Court of Three Judges imposed a 5-year suspension on Mr Madasamy for making “grave and baseless accusations of improper conduct” against the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Law Society. Among other things, Mr Madasamy alleged that the Prosecution were “wrongdoers” who had acted in a “dishonest” and “deplorable” manner, leading to the death sentence being wrongly imposed on his client. Mr Madasamy also refused to apologise for his misconduct, when given an opportunity to do so, and instead repeated these allegations on social media. The Court found that Mr Madasamy’s comments were “baseless and ill-conceived attacks” on the administration of justice in Singapore. The Court emphasised that no solicitor can be permitted to recklessly and baselessly undermine the very pillars of the legal system in which he operates and that to do so would plainly cause grave injury to public confidence in the legal profession.
- In 2023, the General Division of the High Court found that Mr Madasamy had committed nine instances of contempt of court, and sentenced him to 21 days’ imprisonment. These instances of contempt arose from two separate incidents in November 2021. In the first incident, which took place during civil proceedings in the High Court, Mr Madasamy made unfounded allegations of bias against the Judge, persistently interrupted her, told her not to be rude, and took legal positions without obtaining or confirming his client’s instructions, among other things. In the second incident, during a criminal case in the State Courts, he persistently interrupted the Judge, misrepresented his availability to the Judge, and made unfounded allegations of bias against the Judge, among other things.
Last updated on 19 January 2024