October 19, 2017

Senior Partner Mr Roderick Martin SC is on the Disciplinary Tribunal appointed for a case of breach of confidentiality, as published in The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Senior Partner Mr Roderick Martin SC was featured in The Straits Times article titled "Lawyer faces fine for leaking client data to lover". The article was first published in The Straits Times on 19 October 2017. Lawyer faces fine for leaking client data to lover Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 19 October 2017 Author: K.C. Vijayan A lawyer who leaked confidential client information to his then lover admitted to professional misconduct before a disciplinary tribunal, which has called for him to be fined. Mr Ryan Lin, an associate director at Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC at the time, had communicated with the woman via WhatsApp from October 2015 over two months, which formed the subject of 14 charges against him. The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT), comprising Senior Counsel Roderick Martin and lawyer Tan Gee Tuan, noted in its report issued in August that this appeared to be the first case involving breach of confidentiality to have reached the tribunal. It recommended that Mr Lin pay a penalty of between $15,000 and $20,000 for all the charges. The amount is to be decided by the Law Society's governing council. According to the DT report, the pair entered into an intimate relationship after they met through Tinder, an online dating mobile application, in October 2015. The woman complained to the Law Society in February last year about his disclosures after the tryst ended. A few months later, Mr Lin's employer, Morgan Lewis Stamford, followed suit. Given that the two complaints arose from the same facts, the Law Society pressed charges against Mr Lin, who is in his 30s, based on the woman's complaint. The DT said Mr Lin was fortunate there was no evidence that any of the clients whose confidential information was passed had suffered loss or damage. It found that the disclosures were restricted to personal communication, which meant negligible likelihood of damage or loss, and that there was no fraudulent or dishonest conduct by Mr Lin. "(He) was a foolish young man who has, in the pursuit of a woman, forgotten his duty to keep matters of his professional engagements confidential," said the DT. Among other breaches, Mr Lin sent to the woman a photograph of a draft circular to shareholders on Nov 13, 2015, in relation to the proposed disposal of companies to an entity. The proposed disposal by a client of the law firm had not then been made public. Like the other charges, the disclosure of the draft circular amounted to misconduct unbefitting of a lawyer, said the tribunal. Lawyer Sanjiv Kumar Rajan, in prosecuting for the Law Society, did "not seek the harshest of determinations but measuredly" argued that Mr Lin should be punished with a substantial fine and pay legal costs. Defending Mr Lin, lawyer Sim Chong pointed out at the hearing in June that the woman was "his closest confidante" when they were in a relationship and the information, being part of ongoing text messages, was not data that either could profit from or meant for such purpose. He argued that references by Mr Lin to his clients were made in the context of him sharing his day with the woman or to justify to her why he could not see her. Said the DT: "(It was) something which a solicitor would do without batting an eyelid when informing his wife that he is not able to go back for dinner because of some client or other... "Alas, (the woman) was not (Mr Lin's) wife and what could happen has happened when the falling out occurred." It ordered Mr Lin to pay $7,000 in costs to the Law Society. A spokesman for parent firm Morgan Lewis, which is based in the United States, declined comment when contacted via e-mail last week. Mr Lin, who began practising in 2008, is understood to be no longer with the law firm.
October 9, 2017

Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation and Senior Partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Tan Chong Huat comments that the donation to SMU Pro Bono Centre goes beyond monetary support as it includes a commitment for lawyers to be involved in legal clinics

Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation and Senior Partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Tan Chong Huat comments that the donation to SMU Pro Bono Centre goes beyond monetary support as it includes a commitment for lawyers to be involved in legal clinics and train students. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 6 October 2017. Over 50% of SMU law students volunteer at its pro bono centre Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 6 October 2017 Author: Cheow Sue-Ann SINGAPORE - More than half of the Singapore Management University (SMU) law students volunteer at its pro bono centre. The centre, located within the new School of Law building, has seen more than 500 cases since 2013 and relies on the students to help run it. The 554 students take turns to man the centre's hotline and help-desk services from 8.30am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, and perform administrative tasks to aid the lawyers at SMU's free legal clinics, held every Friday evening.   Associate Professor Rathna N. Koman, the centre's director, said the students currently perform an average of 37 hours of pro bono work a student, based on the 2013 graduating batch. This is a 60 per cent increase from 2009. The free legal clinic sees around six to 12 clients at each of its Friday evening sessions. Prof Rathna said that most of the cases they handle involve a crime, or are related to employment and family disputes. The centre has also assisted clients who have legal issues with organisations, including government agencies. On Friday (Oct 6), RHT Rajan Menon Foundation signed a commitment of $300,000 to the SMU Pro Bono Centre, to be delivered over five years. Mr Tan Chong Huat, chairman of the foundation and senior partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said the monetary contribution combines with the law firm's commitment to provide the centre with lawyers and expertise to improve the pro bono work done by the centre as well as train the students. This is to ensure that the centre can provide better services in future.
October 9, 2017

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation Chairman Tan Chong Huat shares about an Eldercare Project the Foundation is collaborating with SMU Pro Bono Centre to empower elderly Singaporeans to take charge of their future affairs

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation Chairman Tan Chong Huat shares about an Eldercare Project the Foundation is collaborating with SMU Pro Bono Centre to empower elderly Singaporeans to take charge of their future affairs. This article was first published in TODAY on 6 October 2017. SMU law students to help empower the elderly Source: TODAY © Mediacorp Press Ltd. Date: 6 October 2017 Author: Koh Swee Fang Valerie SINGAPORE – Law students from the Singapore Management University (SMU) will gain exposure to the legal needs of an ageing population under a new project of the university’s Pro Bono Centre. Part of a tie-up with the RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, the Eldercare Project will see the students assisting lawyers in the drafting of wills and Lasting Power of Attorney documents. It will begin in the next two months. A S$300,000 donation by the foundation will fund manpower costs -- such as the hiring of an executive to oversee the project and other new programmes of the SMU Pro Bono Centre. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows one to appoint others to make decisions on his behalf should he lose mental capacity. A five-year partnership between the centre and the foundation announced on Friday (Oct 6) will have lawyers from RHTLaw Taylor Wessing working with the People’s Action Party Community Foundation to reach out to the elderly, to teach them about legal matters related to financial planning and personal affairs. This would empower some elderly Singaporeans to take charge of their future affairs, said RHT Rajan Menon Foundation chairman Tan Chong Huat. “It’s very easy to say Singapore has a (rapidly) ageing population, but it’s only when you’re actually dealing with the situation that you realise the ramifications it has on society,” said the centre’s director Rathna Koman. “And when you give a student that kind of learning experience, it really adds to their growth.” The SMU Pro Bono Centre began in 2013 and all SMU law students are required to do at least 20 hours of pro bono work before they can graduate. The average student clocks 37 hours. Students serve at the centre’s three-hour legal clinic on Friday nights. They support lawyers who help individuals involved in physical violence and other criminal matters, or who are involved in divorce. Other cases involve contract issues relating to employment, for example. One to two lawyers are typically on duty each time and see about six cases a night. The centre has handled more than 600 cases so far. The clinics are held at the Pro Bono Centre, which moved from SMU’s Administration Building to its School of Law at Armenian Street in February. Former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong was at the centre’s official launch on Friday and urged students to volunteer their services. He is an advisor to the centre. SMU law dean Goh Yihan said pro bono work would allow students to graduate with not only a solid grasp of the law, but also “soft skills”. They would learn the practice of law is not about themselves, and is more than the drafting of legal documents in a posh Raffles Place office, he said. Third-year student Niranjanaa Ram, 21, said volunteering at the centre has helped her to apply textbook knowledge. “As students, all we see are readings or words and it doesn’t come alive until you see people having the same disputes and same worries -- and then you realise how important it is, what you’re studying,” she said.
October 6, 2017

SMU and RHT Rajan Menon Foundation affirm commitment to cultivate pro bono spirit among law students and within the legal fraternity

In conjunction with the official launch of the Singapore Management University (SMU) Pro Bono Centre’s new premises at the SMU School of Law building today, the University announced a gift of S$300,000 from the RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, which will support the Centre for a period of five years starting from Academic Year 2017-2018. Both parties are also delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Chan Sek Keong, former Chief Justice and current Senior Judge of the Singapore Supreme Court as the Centre’s Advisor.  Mr Chan unveiled the new premises today at the launch ceremony today, together with SMU Provost, Professor Lily Kong, and Mr Tan Chong Huat, Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation. Since its establishment in 2013, the SMU Pro Bono Centre, headed by SMU Associate Professor Rathna N Koman, has been instrumental in cultivating the pro bono culture at SMU and in sensitising students to social justice issues.  By involving students in regular legal clinic work at the Centre which serves indigent members of the community, training students in client interviewing skills and managing legal clinics, and offering internship opportunities, the Centre exposes SMU law students to legal aid work and enables them to integrate academic work with real-life experience.  At the regional level, the Centre also collaborates with Asian universities, such as through internships, to raise pro bono consciousness among students. RHT Rajan Menon Foundation is pleased to support the SMU Pro Bono Centre to advance the pro bono spirit within the legal fraternity. RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, a Singapore registered charity and grant-making philanthropic organisation, is the corporate social responsibility vehicle of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP (ranked 6th largest law firm in Singapore by the Singapore Business Review) and the RHT Group of Companies. Mr Chan Sek Keong has kindly agreed to act as an advisor to the Centre. In his previous public roles, he had been a strong advocate of pro bono work by lawyers for the less fortunate in our society.  He also advocated the establishment of a mandatory pro bono programme for all Singapore law students as a realistic and simple for law students to learn from first-hand experience the legal problems that the poor encounter in their daily lives.  As Advisor, Mr Chan will provide counsel and guidance on the SMU Pro Bono Centre’s activities and plans. Mr Tan Chong Huat said, “This collaboration with SMU Pro Bono Centre came about naturally. Both parties shared a common objective of instilling social responsibility in law students and lawyers towards the underprivileged. The Foundation’s support towards the SMU Pro Bono Centre embodies the philanthropic community spirit which we endorse. We are excited to work with and engage the students from SMU School of Law, guiding them to use their legal training to help those in need. We have already put in place a very exciting project to serve the elderly which we shall announce shortly.  The Foundation’s work with the Centre will enable us to extend the impact of our pro bono initiatives by combining resources from the corporate world with the passion for pro bono that SMU, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and RHT Group of Companies exemplify.” Associate Professor Goh Yihan, Dean, SMU School of Law, said, “As stakeholders of the justice system, and in line with the University’s ethos, our School advocates a pro bono culture among students through various pro bono programmes which we have nurtured since our inception in 2007.  We are grateful to RHT Rajan Menon Foundation for their generosity and vote of confidence towards our efforts.  I am confident that together, our work will go a long way in nurturing law graduates with a strong sense of empathy and service.” “We are also extremely honoured and humbled to be able to benefit from Mr Chan Sek Keong’s wealth of experiences.  A highly-respected and eminent figure, he has 50 illustrious years of legal experience under his belt.  I have no doubt that, under his guidance, and through the combined efforts of all at our Pro Bono Centre, we will be able to make an even greater impact,” Associate Professor Goh added. Please watch the video for the full interview.