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Singapore high court disbars human rights lawyer M Ravi for serious professional misconduct

The Singapore High Court has barred human rights lawyer M Ravi from practicing law due to misconduct in two separate cases: making false allegations about officials and disrespecting a judge while misrepresenting his client’s wishes.



The Singapore High Court has issued a stern judgment by striking off human rights lawyer Ravi Madasamy, commonly referred to as M Ravi, from the roll of advocates and solicitors after finding him guilty of several serious professional misconduct charges, marking a significant censure in the legal community’s standards.

This action follows his previous suspension in March 2023 from legal practice for five years due to misconduct. This suspension was related to statements he made after the setting aside of Gobi Avedian’s death sentence in 2020, which were said to have undermined the integrity of Singapore’s justice system.

The charges against Mr Ravi arose from two distinct applications initiated by the Law Society of Singapore.

A Disciplinary Tribunal was earlier convened to address Mr Ravi’s professional misconduct stemming from these two cases. The guilty findings of all the charges against Mr Ravi led the Tribunal to consider the severe step of removing him from the roll of solicitors, which was then referred to the Court of Three Judges.

In the first case, Mr Ravi made allegations in August 2020 that the appointments of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and then-incumbent Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong were unconstitutional due to “racial considerations.”

He requested that the President refer the matter to a Constitutional Tribunal. Subsequently, he claimed that the President had abdicated her constitutional responsibilities by not acting independently of the Cabinet in this referral.

These allegations, which were widely shared on social media, led to charges of misconduct, as the Law Society deemed these statements “false and baseless,” suggesting they were unbecoming of an advocate and solicitor. While Mr Ravi acknowledged making these statements, he denied they constituted misconduct.

The court expressed that “the respondent’s conduct of making the statements was very serious because it involved the publishing of false statements about key public offices.”

In the second case, Mr Ravi was accused of behaving disrespectfully towards a judge during a trial in November 2021 and making dishonest representations about his client’s wishes to the court.

This conduct was described as a severe breach of the foundational trust between a solicitor and their client, directly impacting the administration of justice.

The judgment stated, “The respondent’s conduct of acting without his client’s instructions, and against them, strikes at the heart of the solicitor-client relationship, and by extension, the administration of justice.”

The judgment highlighted his extensive history of disciplinary issues, noting, “Prior to the two matters before this court, the respondent has had many antecedents, having been found guilty on more than 10 occasions of improper conduct by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Law Society of Singapore.”

Justice Steven Chong, delivering the court’s decision, underscored the gravity of Mr Ravi’s actions and their implications for the legal profession. “Such unwarranted and unjustified attacks on important public institutions cannot be made, lest they erode the public’s trust and confidence,” he remarked.

The court’s decision to strike Mr Ravi off the roll was described as being aimed at protecting the public and upholding the integrity and trust in the legal profession. In determining the sanction, the court carefully considered the totality of Mr Ravi’s past and recent misconducts.

The decision emphasized that “the appropriate sanction is striking off,” marking the conclusion of a longstanding pattern of behaviour that repeatedly challenged legal norms and professional standards.

It can be said that the court had no choice but to strike Mr Ravi given that he is currently serving the maximum five-year suspension.

In response to Mr Ravi’s expressed hope of being able to practice law again in Singapore in the future, and his wish to overcome his issues, the judges stated that they agree he should focus on addressing these concerns. They will consider his fitness to resume his legal practice at the appropriate time when such an application is presented before them.

The judges also ordered Mr Ravi to pay a total of S$26,135.54 in various legal costs. This amount includes S$20,000 as fixed costs for two applications, OA 5 and OA 10. Additionally, for the application OA 10, he must cover S$3,000 for proceedings before the Disciplinary Tribunal, S$2,744.14 for related disbursements, and S$391.40 for the record of proceedings of the DT.

On top of these, Mr Ravi faces a total of 19 charges, which is set to be sentenced on 17 July. These charges stem from a series of incidents where he is accused of both physical and verbal assaults, alongside disruptive behaviour in public places and private settings.

While Mr Ravi has faced various charges and been struck off, he has received international recognition for his tireless efforts to champion the rights of the underprivileged through various accolades awarded around the world.

He is recognized as a human rights defender by Front Line Defenders, and the most recent acknowledgment came during the 2023 International Bar Association Conference held in Paris from 29 October to 3 November where he was presented with the prestigious 2023 IBA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights, in recognition of his exceptional work in advocating for the underprivileged.

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Now if you are the “wrong” type of lawyer. Say goodbye to your livelihood.

Of course, this is to be expected. There is no rule of law in Singapore and if you question that, out you go. 70% made sure of this fact.

Now we wait for this corruption to seep into the business side of arbitration and there goes Singapore’s international reputation.

Mr. Ravi is bipolar. So is it fair to have him disbarred? Where is the compassion in our society? In the US , the bar council will protest. Our justice system seems to be going downhill.

How many Singaporeans think highly of our judiciary? Should have a consensus.

Wow, the clean up campaign is so obvious. State organs in full swing. All systems go.

Getting rid of all opposition before election comes round ..Mr Ravi, Mr Pritam Singh…who’s next?

Last edited 12 days ago by W.A.J.