Singapore

Lawyer caught on video abusing staff to face Court of 3 Judges

Caught on video abusing employees, lawyer faces highest disciplinary body

Entertainment lawyer Samuel Seow, seen berating a woman employee in a video that went viral last year, will face the Court of Three Judges for improper conduct.

Seow, 47, admitted before a disciplinary tribunal to eight charges involving three women employees at his office in South Bridge Road on five days between March 16, 2018, and April 17, 2018.

Two of the charges related to overt acts of physical violence against Ms Brenda Kong and Ms Serene Tan.

Ms Tan did not seek medical treatment after the incident, but Ms Kong did, and the doctor said she had "multiple soft tissue injuries" and abrasions on her body.

The video recording showed that Seow was much larger than the women and was the aggressor in the altercations. Also, he would have continued attacking them if other employees had not restrained him.

The tribunal noted the attacks were over a trivial matter and had nothing to do with the two women.

Five of the charges related to his "intemperate and boorish conduct" towards employee Rachel Kang on five occasions.

They involved throwing files, boxes, a metal stapler and a wallet in her direction, shouting at her aggressively and threatening to take a knife to kill her.

The remaining charge involved being physically aggressive towards Ms Kang, for which he has been charged under Section 352 of the Penal Code with using criminal force, the tribunal noted in its report released last month.

Seow has also been charged under the Protection from Harassment Act for using threatening words against Ms Kang.

Lawyers Dinesh Dhillon, Loong Tse Chuan and Alisa Toh, prosecuting for the Law Society, argued that he showed a pattern of "intemperate, boorish and belligerent" conduct that was serious enough to be referred to the Court of Three Judges.

They said, among other things, that as he was the superior of the three women, his conduct was an abuse of his position of authority over them.

FINE

Lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Johannes Hadi, in their mitigation for Seow, urged the tribunal to impose a $20,000 fine on him instead of referring him to the Court of Three Judges - the highest body with wider powers to deal with the discipline of lawyers.

They argued that little if any harm was done to the victims, and that he was suffering from "adjustment disorder" at the time of the offences.

But the tribunal, comprising president and Senior Counsel Siraj Omar and lawyer Pradeep Pillai, noted, among other things, that the clinical psychotherapist who diagnosed Seow as having adjustment disorder saw him only in May last year, more than a year after the incidents.

Also, the medical reports did not explain how he was able to ascertain that Seow suffered from the disorder at the time of the incidents.

The tribunal noted that both Ms Kong and Ms Kang had stated they had forgiven him "wholeheartedly", but ruled that this did not mitigate the seriousness of his conduct.

It said both of them may have been motivated to speak in support of him because one was his niece and the other remained employed by his company.

The tribunal ruled there was "cause of sufficient gravity" for Seow to be dealt with by the Court of Three Judges on the eight charges, which amounted to improper conduct as a lawyer.

They also said there was cause for disciplinary action on the eight alternative charges of misconduct unbefitting of a lawyer as an officer of the court and as a member of the profession under the Legal Profession Act.

COURT & CRIME