The High Court has dismissed an individual’s application on March 3 to bar a lawyer from providing unofficial assistance to another counsel, have his work in the case declared void and alleging him of misconduct.
Ong Jin Huat filed a civil suit against Lim Boon Khai for claimed professional negligence. During the case, Lim changed solicitors and counsels several times before settling on counsel Shazale Mat Salleh on October 19, 2019.
According to the court records, a number of interlocutory hearings have taken place and on occasions, Shazale enlisted the assistance of a counsel, Zamri Taha, of another firm.
While the proceedings are still ongoing, Ong filed a complaint and sought to bar Zamri from further representation, to strike out all his work in the suit and alleged him of misconduct, and prevent Lim from claiming costs for two counsels.
The application was filed and dismissed by the Senior Registrar in October 2020.
Ong pursued the application further where Judicial Commissioner Edward Timothy Starbuck Woolley sat in the appeal and heard that the complaint of Zamri’s failure to file a notice to act under Order 64, and alleged him of misconduct.
Justice Woolley, on deciding the outcome of the appeal, said, “It is usual for there to be only one solicitor on record… at the same time, it is not unusual for a solicitor or counsel on occasion to request the assistance of another counsel, not necessarily from the same firm, in a hearing.”
Justice Woolley added that there have not been any known objections raised over the widespread practice. The Judicial Commissioner further reiterated that an assisting lawyer has no duty to file a notice to place himself on record.
Regarding the allegation of misconduct, Justice Woolley said that “they are at best vague and unsupported by any evidence” before dismissing the appeal.