Lawyer Shafee succeeds in securing injunction from the KL High Court to prevent motion at the Malaysian Bar’s AGM
Lawyer Mohamed Shafee Abdullah today succeeded in securing an injunction from the Kuala Lumpur High Court to prevent a motion being tabled tomorrow at the Malaysian Bar’s Annual General Meeting to debate his conduct.
The Order was granted ex parte in chambers earlier today by High Court Judge Asmabi Mohamad. Shafee was represented by Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin and Hasnal Rezal Merican.
The Court also set the hearing of the inter partes application for March 27.
Shafee had named the Bar, its President Christopher Leong, senior lawyer Tommy Thomas and former Court of Appeal Judge V C George as defendants in the suit.
The motion, due to be proposed by Thomas and seconded by George, was meant to discuss Shafee’s conduct post February 10.
The date February 10 is significant because it was the day the Federal Court dismissed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal in the now infamous Sodomy II case, in the process upholding the conviction and consigning him to a 5 year imprisonment term which he has already begun to serve.
Since that date, Shafee has been widely reported to have been holding press conferences and participating in roadshows organized by Umno during which he is alleged to have engaged in “extreme and outrageous conduct, unprecedented in the annals of the common law” by demeaning and insulting Anwar and his legal team while bringing attention to his own prowess in conducting the prosecution on behalf of the government and in securing the conviction.
The motion had sought to “condemn, in the strongest terms” his behaviour and to call upon the Bar Council to lodge a complaint to the Disciplinary Board and take all other steps to prevent him from continuing to bring the profession “into disrepute.”
A senior lawyer contacted by FMT said, “The effect of the injunction is that the motion cannot be tabled for debate at the AGM tomorrow.”
He, however, added that despite this, the Bar Council was still empowered to pursue a complaint to the Disciplinary Board under the provisions of the Act.
“There is no need for specific mandate from the floor to do so. It is well within their statutory power,” he opined.
He explained that section 94(3) of the Legal Profession Act, 1976 defines “misconduct” by an advocate and solicitor as “conduct covering a broad range of acts and omissions” both “in a professional capacity or otherwise” including :
- “the breach of any rule of practice and etiquette of the profession made by the Bar Council”
- “being guilty of any conduct which is unbefitting of an advocate and solicitor or which brings or is calculated to bring the legal profession into disrepute.”
“An advocate and solicitor who has been guilty of ‘misconduct’ may be struck of the Roll, suspended from practice for a period of five years, reprimanded or censured,” he added.
“Misconduct proceedings are under the purview of the Advocates & Solicitors Disciplinary Board which is a tribunal set up under the Act,” he explained. “In appropriate cases, the Bar Council itself is permitted to lodge a complaint against an advocate and solicitor.”
This is not the first time that the High Court has granted injunctions to prevent the Bar from debating particular motions.
On June 20, 2000, Justice R K Nathan issued an injunction to stop the Bar from debating the conduct of then Chief Justice Eusoff Chin, who had been photographed on holiday with a prominent lawyer overseas.
Prior to that, in November 1999, the High Court had also granted an injunction to prevent debate of a resolution calling on the authorities to investigate “all relevant instances of controversy that have undermined confidence in the Malaysian judiciary.”
“On those occasions, the subject matter being discussed was the conduct of members of the Judiciary, who were not privy to the meeting,” FMT’s source said. “The present case is different because we are talking about a fellow member of the Bar.”