Can the Bar Council intervene and pursue a complaint against a lawyer if the complainant has withdrawn the complaint?
MAJLIS PEGUAM MALAYSIA V LIM YIN YIN  4 MLRA 39
- The Disciplinary Board (“DB”) received a complaint lodged by a complainant against Lim Yin Yin (“LYY”).
- The complaint was in relation to LYY’s failure to remit/release the sum of Ringgit Malaysia Eight Hundred Fifteen Thousand One Hundred Twenty (RM815,120-00), being the balance of the purchase price which LYY held as stakeholder on behalf of the complainant and one Norhayati (“Clients”).
- DB wrote to LYY requesting for a written explanation about the complaint.
- The Bar Council decided to intervene in the complaint although the complaint was subsequently withdrawn by the complainant.
- The DB heard the complaint and decided to strike LLY off the Roll of advocates and solicitors of the High Court of Malaya [struck off as a lawyer].
- LLY appealed to the High Court, which set aside DB’s order and substituted it with an order of suspension from practice as an advocate and solicitor for a period of three (3) years.
- The Bar Council appealed against the decision of the High Court.
COURT OF APPEAL DECISION – APPEAL ALLOWED!
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and held as follows:
- There can be no excuse to justify LLY misappropriating clients’ monies for her own use. LLY knew that the monies belong to her Clients and that she was obliged to pay the monies to the Clients by a certain date and failed to do so;
- A court will only be entitled to intervene if the punishment imposed by DB is considered to be manifestly excessive by the best thinking members of the legal profession or manifestly wrong in the sense of being illegal. The present case did not come within the reach of that test and therefore the High Court should not have intervened with the decision of DB.