THE SUPREME COURT BENCH

Articles in this section:
The Supreme Court Bench
Changes to the Bench
  Retirement of Chief Justice Yong Pung How
  Appointment of Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong
 

Appointment of Former Judge of Appeal Justice Chao Hick Tin as the Attorney-General

 

Appointment of Judge of Appeal Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong

 

Appointment of Justice Lee Seiu Kin

 

Appointment of Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon

Judges' News
  Goodwill Visit to Malaysia
  Judges’ International Profile
 

National Day Award to Justice Tay Yong Kwang

 

In Memoriam of Retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Lai Kew Chai

The CHIEF JUSTICE


Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong


JUDGE of APPEAL


Judge of Appeal Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong


JUDGES


Justice Kan Ting Chiu


Justice Lai Siu Chiu


Justice Judith Prakash


Justice Tan Lee Meng


Justice Choo Han Teck


Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean


Justice Woo Bih Li


Justice Tay Yong Kwang


Justice V K Rajah


Justice Andrew Ang


Justice Lee Seiu Kin


Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon

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CHANGES TO THE BENCH

The past year was a momentous one for the Supreme Court Bench, marked by changes to both its leadership and a number of new judicial appointments.

RETIREMENT OF CHIEF JUSTICE YONG PUNG HOW

Chief Justice Yong Pung How retired from the nation’s top judicial position after more than 16 years of distinguished service on 10 April 2006. The entire Supreme Court gathered to wish him a happy retirement at a farewell tea organised in his honour. As Chief Justice Yong’s 80th birthday fell on the following day, the staff took the opportunity to salute his continued good health by presenting him with a cake, accompanied by a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

Due to his leadership and invaluable contributions to the Supreme Court in this time, the Supreme Court has inherited an efficient and dynamic court system which it will continue to adapt and improve, so as to stay responsive to changes in the legal landscape.

As a momento of his distinguished term of office, Chief Justice Yong was presented with a collection of gifts, which included a scrapbook of photographs and newspaper articles detailing his multifarious achievements, a comprehensive CD-Rom of his judgments and speeches, and a compilation of messages from current staff and former Judicial Officers and Justices’ Law Clerks. These gifts represented the deep gratitude and appreciation of Chief Justice Yong’s inspired leadership and legacy, as well as everyone’s best wishes to him for a happy, fulfilling retirement.

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APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF JUSTICE CHAN SEK KEONG

The appointment of Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong took place on 11 April 2006. Chief Justice Chan was born in Ipoh, Perak, and received his early education at Anderson School, Ipoh. He read law at the University of Malaya in Singapore and was among the inaugural group of 22 to graduate from the Law Faculty in 1961. He was admitted to the Malayan Bar on 31 January 1962 and the Singapore Bar on 26 November 1962.

After a year in private practice in Kuala Lumpur with Bannon & Bailey, Chief Justice Chan joined Braddell Brothers in Singapore on 1 January 1963 and on 1 May 1969, moved to Shook Lin and Bok. On 1 July 1986, he became the first local law graduate to be appointed Judicial Commissioner in Singapore. Two years later, on 1 July 1988, he was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court. On 1 May 1992, he was appointed the Attorney-General of Singapore.

On 11 April 2006, he was appointed the Chief Justice of Singapore for a period of three years in the first instance. He is the first local law graduate to be appointed as the Chief Justice of Singapore. He also holds concurrent appointments as the President of the Legal Service Commission, Chairman of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights and the President of the Singapore Academy of Law.

He is reputed for his legal expertise and his determination to uphold the rule of law and the integrity of the judicial process. The Supreme Court will undoubtedly grow from strength to strength under his leadership.

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APPOINTMENT OF FORMER JUDGE OF APPEAL JUSTICE CHAO HICK TIN AS THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Attorney-General Chao Hick Tin first joined the Attorney-General’s Chambers as a State Counsel in 1967, then as a Senior State Counsel from 1979 to 1987. He was subsequently appointed Judicial Commissioner on 1 October 1987, appointed Supreme Court Judge on 15 November 1990 and appointed Judge of Appeal on 2 August 1999. On 11 April 2006, he was appointed the Attorney-General of Singapore.

He obtained his law degree from the University College of London in 1965 before being called to the Bar as a barrister of Middle Temple in the same year. In 1966, he received his LLM from the University College of London. He previously served as the President of the Industrial Arbitration Court and as Chairman of the Singapore Mediation Centre. He is also the immediate past President of the ASEAN Law Association.

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APPOINTMENT OF JUDGE OF APPEAL JUSTICE ANDREW PHANG BOON LEONG

Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong was appointed Judge of Appeal on 28 February 2006. He was previously appointed Judicial Commissioner on 3 January 2005 and Supreme Court Judge on 8 December 2005.

Justice Phang graduated with an LLB (First Class Honours) from the National University of Singapore in 1982. He obtained both his LLM and his SJD from Harvard Law School in 1984 and 1988 respectively. From 1982 to 2004, he was in academia. He spent 19 years at the Law Faculty of the National University of Singapore and rose to be a distinguished Professor of Law with prolific publications, both in international and local legal literature. In 2001, he took on the Chair of the Department of Law in the Business School at the Singapore Management University before joining the Bench in 2005.

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APPOINTMENT OF JUSTICE LEE SEIU KIN

On 11 April 2006, Justice Lee Seiu Kin was appointed Supreme Court Judge. He graduated with a BA in Engineering (Honours) from the University of Adelaide in 1977. After obtaining the multiple distinctions of a Masters of Science from the National University of Singapore in 1982 and an MBA (Distinction) in Business Admin/Studies from the European Institute of Business Administration in 1983, Justice Lee went on to complete his law degree at the National University of Singapore in 1986. After completing his LLM (Honours) at the University of Cambridge in 1987, Justice Lee joined the Attorney-General’s Chambers as a State Counsel. He was appointed Judicial Commissioner on 15 October 1997 and Second Solicitor-General on 15 October 2002.

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APPOINTMENT OF JUDICIAL COMMISSIONER SUNDARESH MENON

Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon was appointed to the Bench on 3 April 2006. Judicial Commissioner Menon was a law graduate from the National University of Singapore and obtained his LLM from Harvard Law School in 1991. During his time in practice, Judicial Commissioner Menon was one of Asia’s leading lawyers in the fields of commercial litigation, arbitration and construction law, and was made a partner in noted firms such as Wong Meng Meng & Partners (now known as Wong Partnership) and Rajah & Tann. In 2003, he became a partner in Jones Day, and continued in this capacity until his appointment as a Judicial Commissioner.

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JUDGES’ NEWS

GOODWILL VISIT TO MALAYSIA

On 3 to 5 September 2006, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong led a delegation of Supreme Court Judges and Registrars for a goodwill visit to the Malaysian Courts. The Chief Justice was accompanied by Justice Andrew Phang, Justice Judith Prakash, Justice V K Rajah, Justice Lee Seiu Kin, Registrar Mrs Koh Juat Jong, Senior Assistant Registrars Ms Audrey Lim and Mr Kwek Mean Luck and Assistant Registrar Ms Ang Ching Pin. The Singapore delegation met with The Right Honourable Tun Dato’ Sri Ahmad Fairuz bin Dato’ Sheikh Abdul Halim, the Chief Justice of Malaysia, as well as with other Malaysian Judges and officials. The delegation also visited the Palace of Justice at Putrajaya, which houses the Federal Court as well as the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian Parliament Building where the delegation met with the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, the Honourable Dato’ Sri Nazri bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz. The visit has forged closer ties between the Judiciaries of Singapore and Malaysia and has also promoted greater exchanges and cooperation between the two.

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JUDGES’ INTERNATIONAL PROFILE

This year, a number of Judges attended or presented papers at international conferences. These are detailed in the table below:

Date

Judge

Conference

15 to 17 September 2006

Justice V K Rajah

24th Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Annual Conference 2006, Adelaide, Australia

6 to 8 October 2006

Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong

The Judicial Conference of Australia Colloquium 2006, Canberra, Australia

17 to 21 October 2006

Justice Choo Han Teck

International Conference on Liberty and Prosperity, Manila, Philippines

22 to 25 November 2006

Justice Lee Seiu Kin

ASEAN Law Association 9th General Assembly 2006, Bangkok, Thailand

23 to 26 November 2006

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong

International Conference on “Criminal Justice under Stress: Transnational Perspectives”, New Delhi, India

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NATIONAL DAY AWARD TO JUSTICE TAY YONG KWANG

Supreme Court Judge Justice Tay Yong Kwang was presented the National Day Award Long Service Medal (Pingat Bakti Setia) for 25 years of dedication to the public service. Justice Tay joined the Singapore Legal Service in 1981 first as an Assistant Registrar then as the Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court. He was appointed a District Judge in 1991 and served in that capacity in the Subordinate Courts until 1997. Thereafter, he was appointed Judicial Commissioner on 15 October 1997 and appointed Judge on 2 January 2003.

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IN MEMORIAM OF RETIRED SUPREME COURT JUDGE JUSTICE LAI KEW CHAI

Mr Lai Kew Chai passed away on 27 February 2006, shortly after his retirement from the Supreme Court Bench earlier that month. Born in Perak in 1941, he read law at the University of Singapore and graduated in 1966. He articled with Lee & Lee and thereafter worked at the firm – rising to become a partner – until his appointment to the Bench on 1 July 1981. At the time of his retirement, Mr Lai was the longest serving member of the Supreme Court Bench, having served for almost 25 years as a Judge. He was very active in the legal fraternity, having chaired the Board of Legal Education and the Singapore Academy of Law’s Committee on Professional Affairs.

In a eulogy delivered at Mr Lai’s funeral by then Judge of Appeal Justice Chao Hick Tin, Justice Chao observed that Mr Lai’s contributions to our legal jurisprudence “cover almost all branches of the law. They testify to his many significant contributions to the development of the law”. Indeed, Mr Lai has certainly made his mark on our legal landscape. In Art Trend Ltd v Blue Dolphin (Pte) Ltd [1982-3] SLR 362, he issued the first written decision on the granting of a Mareva injunction in Singapore. His masterly judgment in Sumitomo Bank v Kartika Ratna Thahir [1993] SLR 735 was lauded by the Privy Council and became a seminal decision in the Commonwealth. Mr Lai also presided over other high-profile cases such as Nguyen Tuong Van v Public Prosecutor [2005] 1 SLR 103 and Public Prosecutor v Took Leng How [2005] 4 SLR 472.

As Justice Chao aptly noted in his tribute:

“Justice Lai was undoubtedly a strong and fair judge, always anxious to do justice to the parties, whether it was a civil case or a criminal trial. He was sound in the law and was always prepared to take in arguments from a fresh perspective … It was abundantly clear that as a Judge, Justice Lai was held in high regard by members of the Bar. He was similarly held by his colleagues on the Bench.”

Lai Kew Chai (1941 – 2006)

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