MP & lawyer Alvin Yeo accused of overcharging
Last year, when Dr Susan Lim lost her court case against the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) over its assertions that she had overcharged her patient, the sister of Queen of Brunei, Dr Lim was ordered to pay the SMC’s costs, including the legal fees of SMC’s law firm.
At the time, SMC was represented by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho of WongPartnership LLP. Alvin Yeo is also an MP of Chua Chu Kang GRC.
While scrutinizing the legal bills of WongPartnership, Dr Lim and her husband alleged that WongPartnership was charging what amounted to $77,102 for each day Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho were in court, in one of the bills. In another, it was $46,729 for each day in court. And, for the third bill, it was alleged that the fees of Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho amounted to $100,000 per hour of court hearing.
Later, Dr Lim filed notices of dispute for all the bills from WongPartnership, which amounted to about $1 million, before a taxation hearing. A taxation hearing takes place when the legal bills submitted by the winning party of a lawsuit is disputed. A taxing registrar will be appointed to decide on the matter. In Dr Lim’s case, the assistant registrar at the taxation hearing actually slashed WongPartnership’s total bill charges from $1 million to $340,000.
Unhappy with the decision made at the taxation hearing, Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho then applied to the High Court to review the assistant registrar’s decision. The High Court Judge, Justice Woo Bih Li, eventually raised the charges allowed from $340,000 to $370,000, which was still far below the original $1 million.
With the judgment from High Court, Dr Lim’s husband later complained to the Law Society against Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho for overcharging.
In response to the complaint, the Law Society formed a review committee to review the matter. One of the members in the review committee was Deputy Senior State Counsel from the Singapore Legal Service/Public Service Commission.
What happened next was the committee dismissed the complaint against Alvin Yeo, as lacking in substance. It based its decision on WongPartnership’s assertion that Alvin Yeo was not involved in the preparation of the bills, and that there was therefore no misconduct on his part. Alvin Yeo is the Managing Partner of WongPartnership.
Dr Lim’s husband is currently applying for a judicial review before the High Court, of the decision made by Law Society’s review committee. He is asking the court to quash the review committee’s decision and appoint a new committee to review the complaint against Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho again.
This is the first time someone has applied for a judicial review of a decision made by the review committee of the Law Society.
At the same time, he is also applying for the admission of a Queen’s Counsel to represent him in this court action, after having been turned down by over 20 Singapore Senior Counsels he has approached.
Dr Lim’s husband said that the Singapore Senior Counsels didn’t want to take up his judicial review case mostly because of their personal or professional relationships with Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho’s law firm.
MP Alvin Yeo asked TC question in Parliament
In March this year, MP Alvin Yeo asked Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament how residents’ interests can be protected when town councils fail to observe good corporate governance and responsible accounting practices.
MP Alvin Yeo asked:
To ask the Minister for National Development what measures are available to the Ministry to protect the interests of residents in relation to Town Councils who fail to observe good corporate governance and responsible accounting practices.
His question came a week after Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the request of Minister Khaw, directed the Auditor-General to audit the accounts of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) which is run by WP. The auditor has given a “disclaimer of opinion” on the council’s financial statements for the financial year 2012/2013.
MP Alvin Yeo, however, did not ask about People’s Association (PA) whose auditor has given their financial statements an “adverse opinion” for many years.