KUALA LUMPUR: A former Bar president insisted that the organisation did not break the law in allowing a motion, to censure lawyer Shafee Abdullah, to be listed for debate at its 2015 annual general meeting.
Christopher Leong said at the material time, there was no formal complaint against Shafee about his conduct as ad hoc prosecutor in Anwar Ibrahim’s “Sodomy 2” appeal before the disciplinary board.
That is why the Bar published a list of issues to be debated, including a motion to censure Shafee, at its March 14, 2015 AGM, he said.
Shafee, who is representing himself in his suit against the Bar before the High Court, asked Leong if he was aware that any complaint against “rough” lawyers should be dealt with before the disciplinary board and not at an AGM.
“If you don’t follow this due process under Section 99 of the Legal Profession Act (LPA), (then) you have infringed my rights,” he said.
Leong, who was the Bar president from 2013 to 2015, told the court he disagreed with Shafee’s contention.
He insisted that the AGM was a closed-door meeting, and that the contents of the meeting could not be disclosed to the public.
In 2015, lawyers Tommy Thomas and VC George filed a motion at the AGM to condemn Shafee’s conduct at a roadshow “in the strongest terms” before lodging a complaint to the Bar’s disciplinary board.
The motion was tabled after Shafee attended and spoke at a “roadshow” to discuss a Federal Court judgment which saw Anwar sentenced to five years in prison for sodomy.
Thomas and George claimed Shafee had violated the legal profession’s rules which prohibit lawyers from seeking publicity for themselves.
In 2014, Anwar was sentenced to five years’ jail by the Court of Appeal after it overturned the acquittal by the High Court in 2012.
However, Anwar received a royal pardon shortly after Pakatan Harapan came to power in 2018. He is currently the prime minister.
Shafee also asked Leong what happened to the motion against him during the AGM.
Shafee had then secured an injunction to stop members from discussing his conduct.
“I recall there was a lengthy discussion on the ex-parte (injunction) terms (at the start of the AGM).
“However, (the Bar’s lawyers), Andrew Chiew and Lambert Rasa-Ratnam informed the meeting that the injunction covered all discussions and I made a ruling that there will be no discussions,” Leong said.
Shafee’s suit was initially dismissed by the High Court in 2016 and the ruling upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2018.
However, the Federal Court allowed Shafee’s appeal in 2021 and remitted it back to the lower court to conduct an assessment on damages.
Earlier this week, Shafee told the court he wanted RM2 million in damages from the Bar over the motion to censure him.
Justice Ahmad Shahrir Salleh fixed Nov 28 for submissions.