Friday, January 21, 2011

Should lawyers be held accountable?

Dear Mr. Tan,
In recent years, many consumers have been cheated on land banking plots, gold bars, spas and other scams. Most of these scams involve legal documents that were drafted by big name law firms in Singapore and were created to help the creators of these scams to avoid prosecution. Surely, the lawyers know that they are abetting their clients to cheat the public?

When the scams finally failed, the culprits have absconded with the money and could not be found. However,  the law firms that were involved with these crooks are still around. Can these law firms be charged for abetting the crime? Should the government authority take action?

Yes, it is the duty of the Government to stop crime and protect the general public from being cheated. The lawyers who were involved should be held accountable to explain their action. The Law Society should also act against these law firms, so that the public can have respect for lawyers as people with honor and integrity and use their legal training in the interest of justice. They should not be acting for crooks to cheat the public.


Vincent Sear said...

I think many people are still confused. Lawyers stand for the interests of their clients, not public justice. Public justice is upheld by the judiciary.

That's why lawyers can and are supposed to defend and act for murderers, rapists, robbers etc. What lawyers are standing for are legal rights of their clients.

What lawyers cannot do is to advise their clients to do something illegal. For example, lie in court, bribe witnesses etc.

Lawyers draft contracts, terms and conditions for their clients within the legal framework. If the client says it's 5% returns or 10% interests, the lawyer draws it up accordingly. It's not for the lawyer to do an audit as to whether these figures are substantiated or sustainable.

Herein lies the government's role as regulator. Only the government can make certain enforceable requirements of certain businesses for public protection.

Tan Kin Lian said...

What you say Vincent reflects the world of greed and lack of honor.

Lawyers and other professionals have a duty to do what is right for society. It is called ethics. They should not be so greedy for money that they behave as crooks.

A lawyer has to defend a person suspected of crime because it has not been proven and the person could have been accused wrongly.

It is a different matter when a lawyer knows that the client is cheating the public and helps the client to draft a legal document to abet this crime.

It is a different matter when the lawyer is not aware about the cheating matter, but it must be a stupid laywer.

So, we need to get our professionals to remember their ethics and honor. Do not allow the rot in society to get worse by condoning the dishonorable action - that they are acting on the instruction of their clients.

Vincent Sear said...

Yes sir, what I said was the cold technical role of the profession. And yes, I do agree that some basic ethics should be observed before a lawyer takes up an assignment, especially a commercial assignment that's likely to be dubious.

Sadly, our government and the fraternity seems not to much concerned about that.

veronika said...

Honour & Ethics do exist.
So does Professionalism.

In these modern times, it is just not required, and not a measure of success.

Give no quarter, take all.
its just business.

Even in business schools, 'take no prisoners' is a hidden curriculum.

Lye Khuen Way said...

Oh yes ! Unfortunately, in SIN, taking the lead from the Government, ethical conduct has no place. ROI, profit are paramount. Honesty/accountabilty even CSR are just : aspirations. Strange, but the erosion of values, subtle as they are, will soon be talking points. Maybe, it will feature in the coming GE.

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