IN RE GEOFFREY ROBERTSON

IN RE GEOFFREY ROBERTSON
COURT OF APPEAL, KUALA LUMPUR
HAIDAR MOHD NOOR, JCA; ABDUL HAMID MOHAMAD, JCA; ABDUL KADIR SULAIMAN, JCA
CIVIL APPEAL NOS: W-02-810-1999, W-02-811-1999, W-02-812-1999 & W-02-813-1999
29 JUNE 2001
[2001] 4 CLJ 317
LEGAL PROFESSION: Admission – Ad hoc – Queen’s counsel – Special qualifications and experience – Whether available amongst local advocates and solicitors – Whether Bahasa Malaysia requirement under s. 11(2) Legal Profession Act 1976should be satisfied – Effect of opening words “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act ” under s. 18(1)- Whether removes s. 11(2)requirement

WORDS & PHRASES: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act” – Legal Profession Act 1976, s. 18(1)- Effect thereof – Whether removes s. 11(2) requirement

By four separate motions, the appellant herein, a Queens’ Counsel practising in England, had applied to the High Court under s. 18(1) of the Legal Profession Act 1976(‘the Act’) for an ad hoc admission as an advocate and solicitor to enable him to represent one Rapheal Pura as a lead counsel in four defamation suits. The Bar Council and the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee strongly supported the said applications stating that the appellant had vast experience in defamation and media law and that he had special qualifications and experience not readily available amongst advocates and solicitors in Malaysia. The Attorney General and the plaintiffs in the four suits objected to the applications on the ground that the nature of the said suits was not novel or complex to the extent that local advocates and solicitors could not handle them. Further, the appellant’s intellectual honesty and professional conduct had been demonstrated to be highly questionable over his article published in the Observer newspaper in London wherein he had attacked the Malaysian judiciary, the government and the Prime Minister. It was also contended that the appellant was not literate in Bahasa Malaysia and had not passed the Bahasa Malaysia Qualifying Examination and neither was he exempted from it as required by s. 11 of the Act. The learned judge heard the four applications jointly and dismissed them. Hence the instant appeals.
Held:
Per Abdul Hamid Mohamad JCA (dissenting)
[1] The amendment Act of A567 re-enacted the earlier provision as was in the Advocates and Solicitors Ordinance 1947 (‘the Ordinance’) into s. 18(1) of the Actbut with a slight change wherein the words “would be a qualified person” in the Ordinance were replaced with the words “would be eligible to be admitted”. The reason for the change lay in the introduction of s. 11(2) by the same amendment Act which required a qualified person to pass or be exempted from the Bahasa Malaysia Qualifying Examination.
[2] Prior to the introduction of s. 11(2) of the Act, a “qualified person” was eligible to be admitted provided he fulfilled the requirements of the then s. 11 (now s. 11(1)). But with the introduction of s. 11(2) that is not enough. He must also pass or be exempted from the Bahasa Malaysia Qualifying examination. If the words “a qualified person” are retained, that will not cover the requirement of s. 11(2) because the requirement in s. 11(2) is not one of the requirements to be satisfied for a “qualified person” under s. 3 of the Act. Hence, the word “eligible” is used.
[3] At first glance the opening words of s. 18(1) of the Act, ie, “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act” appear to take away the requirements of s. 11. If that is so, then the whole phrase “if he was a citizen of, or a permanent resident in Malaysia would be eligible to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court” will be rendered superfluous. In s. 11 the word “is” is used in the phrase “is either a Federal citizen or a permanent resident of Malaysia” to mean that in a normal application, the applicant must be a citizen or a permanent resident of Malaysia. In s. 18 the word “was” is used instead to mean that he need not be a citizen or a permanent resident but he has to satisfy all other requirements applicable to a citizen or a permanent resident applying for admission under s. 11. It followed, therefore, to give effect to the opening words in s. 18(1), they must be taken to mean that notwithstanding the normal admission under s. 11, there is yet another type of admission in special cases under s. 18.
[4] To interpret the opening words of s. 18(1) of the Actto mean that all other provisions in the Act are not applicable would render the said subsequent clause wholly superfluous. Furthermore, the said clause is preceded by the phrase “and subject to the following subsections” and immediately followed by the clause “and no person shall be admitted…” followed by the conditions in paras. (a) and (b). These clearly show that the conditions in paras. (a) and (b) are in addition to the conditions earlier mentioned in s. 18(1). In other words, the conditions in paras. (a) and (b) of s. 18(1) are not the only conditions that must be satisfied for admission under s. 18.
[5] In an application under s. 8A of the Ordinance, an applicant must satisfy the court that if he was a citizen of Malaysia, he would be “a qualified person within the meaning of the Ordinance”. In other words, it is not sufficient merely to satisfy the court that he has been instructed by an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia and for that particular case he has special qualifications or experience of a nature not available amongst advocates and solicitors in Malaysia. This clearly shows that the opening words of s. 8A of the Ordinance (which are exactly the same as the opening words in s. 18(1) of the Act) do not remove all other requirements of the Ordinance in an application for an ad hoc admission. Similarly, the opening words of the present s. 18(1) do not remove all the requirements under s. 11 including the requirement of passing or being exempted from the Bahasa Malaysia Qualifying Examination.
[6] The Bahasa Malaysia requirement under s. 11(2) of the Actis a condition that an applicant must satisfy the court to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia. A foreign lawyer should not be allowed to practice in the court of a country, even on an ad hoc basis and to appear as a lead counsel, if he does not know the language of that country.
[7] The relevant qualifications and experience of the applicant must be looked at with reference to the issues in the case with reference to Malaysia. It was according to Malaysian law that the suits were to be decided. The supporting affidavits did not state whether the applicant had special qualifications and experience of Malaysian law (substantive and procedural) not available amongst local advocates and solicitors.
[8] The appellant might have vast experience in defending libel cases in other countries but whether a statement or an article was libellous or not in this country depended on the law of this country and how the general public of this country understood it and the appellant might not have an understanding of local sensitivity or insensitivity.
[9] Although it was said that the appellant had vast experience in defamation law including mass media, the manner in which the words were published, whether in a newspaper, magazine, internet or whatever, was not going to have any bearing on the meaning of the words. If they were defamatory (or not), they were defamatory (or not) irrespective of how they were published.
[10] Our courts are quite capable of administering justice whether or not with the assistance of any advocate and solicitor. They are also capable of taking care of the trend in the award of damages in defamation cases. The recently reported judgment of the Court of Appeal in Liew Yew Tiam & Ors v. Cheah Cheng Hoc is a clear example.
[Bahasa Malaysia Translation Of Headnotes]
Melalui empat usul yang berasingan, perayu kini, seorang Peguam Diraja berkhidmat di England, telah memohon kepada Mahkamah Tinggi di bawah s. 18(1) Akta Profesion Undang-Undang Malaysia 1976 (‘Akta tersebut’) untuk kebenaran diterima sebagai peguambela dan peguamcara ad hoc supaya membolehkan beliau mewakili seorang Rapheal Pura sebagai peguamcara utama di dalam empat guaman fitnah. Majlis Peguam dan Jawatankuasa Peguam Kuala Lumpur menyokong permohonan-permohonan tersebut dengan tegas dan mengatakan bahawa perayu memperolehi pengalaman luas dalam undang-undang fitnah dan media dan juga mempunyai pengalaman dan kelayakan khas yang tidak didapati di kalangan peguamcara dan peguambela di Malaysia. Peguam Negara dan plaintif-plaintif dalam empat guaman tersebut membantah permohonan-permohonan tersebut berdasarkan sifat guaman-guaman tersebut tidak merupakan sesuatu yang baru atau rumit sejauh mana ianya tidak boleh dikendalikan oleh peguamcara dan peguambela tempatan. Lagipun kejujuran intelektual dan kelakuan profesional beliau telah digambarkan sebagai sesuatu yang boleh dipersoalkan berikutan artikel beliau yang telah diterbitkan di dalam suratkhabar Observer di London di mana beliau telah mengkritik Kehakiman Malaysia, Kerajaan dan Perdana Menteri. Ia juga ditegaskan bahawa perayu tidak boleh membaca dan menulis Bahasa Malaysia dan tidak lulus dalam Peperiksaan Kelayakan Bahasa Malaysia dan juga tidak dikecualikan daripadanya sepertimana dikehendaki oleh s. 11 Akta tersebut. Hakim yang arif telah mendengarkan kempat-empat permohonan bersama dan menolak mereka. Kini rayuan-rayuan terhadap keputusan itu.
Diputuskan:
Oleh Abdul Hamid Mohamad HMR (menentang)
[1] Akta A567 terpinda telah memperbuat semula peruntukan dahulu sepertimana dalam Ordinan Peguambela dan Peguamcara 1947 ke dalam s. 18(1) Akta tersebut dengan sedikit perubahan di mana perkataan-perkataan “would be a qualified person” dalam Ordinan tersebut digantikan dengan perkataan-perkataan “would be eligible to be admitted”. Alasan untuk perubahan tersebut disebabkan dengan pengenalan s. 11(2) oleh Akta terpinda yang sama yang memerlukan seorang berkelayakan untuk melulus atau dikecualikan daripada Peperiksaan Kelayakan Bahasa Malaysia.
[2] Sebelum pengenalan s. 11(2) Akta tersebut, “a qualified person” berlayak untuk diterima sekiranya beliau memenuhi keperluan-keperluan s. 11 yang dulu (kini s. 11(1)). Akan tetapi dengan pengenalan s. 11(2) itu tidak mencukupi. Beliau juga perlu melulus atau dikecualikan daripada Peperiksaan Kelayakan Bahasa Malaysia. Sekiranya perkataan-perkataan “a qualified person” dikekalkan, ianya tidak akan memenuhi keperluan s.11(2) kerana keperluan dalam s. 11(2) tidak merupakan sesuatu daripada keperluan-keperluan yang patut dipenuhi untuk “a qualified person” di bawah s. 3 Akta tersebut. Oleh itu perkataan “eligible” digunakan.
[3] Pada pandangan pertama perkataan-perkataan permulaan s. 18(1) Akta tersebut iaitu “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act” nampaknya mengeluarkan keperluan-keperluan s. 11. Sekiranya demikian, ungkapan keseluruhan “if he was a citizen of, or a permanent resident in Malaysia would be eligible to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court” akan dijadikan melimpah ruah. Di dalam s. 11 perkataan “is” dipakai dalam ungkapan “is either a Federal citizen or a permanent resident of Malaysia” untuk bermakna bahawa dalam permohonan biasa, pemohon seharusnya seorang warganegara atau seorang bermaustatin tetap di Malaysia. Sebaliknya di dalam s. 18 perkataan “was” dipakai untuk bermakna bahawa beliau tak perlu merupakan seorang warganegara atau seorang bermaustatin tetap akan tetapi beliau perlu memenuhi segala keperluan-keperluan lain yang berkaitan untuk seorang warganegara atau seorang bermaustatin tetap yang memohon kebenaran untuk diterima masuk di bawah s. 11. Justeru untuk memberi kesan kepada perkataan-perkataan permulaan dalam s. 18(1), ianya perlu diberikan makna bahawa meskipun terdapat kebenaran diterima masuk biasa di bawah s. 11, adanya satu cara lain bagi kebenaran diterima masuk dalam kes-kes khas di bawah s. 18.
[4] Maka mentafsirkan perkataan-perkataan permulaan s. 18(1) Akta tersebut sebagai bermakna bahawa segala peruntukan-peruntukan lain dalam Akta tersebut tidak boleh dipakai akan menjadikan ungkapan yang berikut melimpah ruah. Lagipun ungkapan tersebut didahului oleh ungkapan “and subject to the following subsections” dan dengan serta merta diikuti oleh ungkapan “and no person shall be admitted…” diikuti oleh syarat-syarat dalam perenggan-perenggan (a) dan (b). Ini dengan jelas menunjukkan bahawa syarat-syarat dalam perenggan-perenggan (a) dan (b) adalah tambahan kepada syarat-syarat yang tersebut dahulu dalam s. 18(1). Dalam lain perkataan, syarat-syarat dalam perenggan-perenggan (a) dan (b) dalam s. 18(1) bukan sahaja syarat-syarat yang perlu dipenuhi untuk diterima masuk di bawah s. 18.
[5] Dalam sesuatu permohonan di bawah s. 8A Ordinan tersebut, pemohon perlu menyakinkan mahkamah bahawa sekiranya beliau seorang warganegara Malaysia, beliau adalah seorang berkelayakan selaras dengan makna dalam Ordinan tersebut. Dengan perkataan lain, ianya tidak mencukupi untuk hanya menyakinkan mahkamah bahawa beliau diarahkan oleh seorang peguamcara dan peguambela di Malaysia dan untuk guaman tertentu itu beliau memperolehi kelayakan dan pengalaman khas yang tidak didapati di kalangan peguamcara dan peguambela di Malaysia. Ini dengan jelasnya menunjukkan bahawa perkataan-perkataan permulaan dalam s. 8A Ordinan tersebut (yang sama seperti perkataan-perkataan permulaan dalam s. 18(1) Akta tersebut) tidak mengeluarkan segala keperluan-keperluan lain Ordinan tersebut dalam permohonan untuk suatu kebenaran diterima masuk ad hoc. Bersamaan juga, perkataan-perkataan permulaan dalam s. 18(1) kini tidak mengeluarkan segala keperluan-keperluan di bawah s. 11 termasuk keperluan mengenai kelulusan atau kecualian Peperiksaan Kelayakan Bahasa Malaysia.
[6] Keperluan Bahasa Malaysia di bawah s. 11(2) Akta tersebut adalah suatu syarat yang perlu dipenuhi oleh pemohon supaya dibenarkan masuk sebagai peguamcara dan peguambela di Malaysia. Seorang peguam asing tidak harus dibenarkan berkhidmat dalam mahkamah di sesuatu negara, meskipun secara ad hoc dan sebagai peguam utama sekiranya beliau tidak memahami bahasa negara tersebut.
[7] Kelayakan dan pengalaman perayu yang relevan perlu diberikan perhatian dengan merujuk kepada isu-isu dalam kes berkaitan dengan Malaysia. Guaman-guaman tersebut akan diputuskan selaras dengan undang-undang Malaysia. Afidavit-afidavit penyokong tidak menyatakan samada perayu mempunyai kelayakan dan pengalaman khas dalam undang-undang Malaysia (substantif dan prosedur) yang tidak didapati dalam kalangan peguamcara dan peguambela tempatan.
[8] Perayu mungkin memperolehi kelayakan dan pengalaman luas dalam pembelaan kes-kes fitnah di negara-negara lain akan tetapi samada sesuatu pernyataan atau artikel berfitnah atau tidak dalam negara ini bergantung kepada undang-undang negara ini dan bagaimana orang awam negara ini memahaminya, dan perayu mungkin tidak mempunyai pengertian sensitiviti atau ketidaksensitiviti tempatan.
[9] Walaupun ternyata bahawa perayu memperolehi pengalaman luas dalam undang-undang fitnah termasuk mass media, cara perkataan-perkataan diterbitkan, samada dalam suratkhabar, majalah, internet atau apapun juga, tidak akan mempunyai sebarang pertalian dengan maksud perkataan-perkataan tersebut. Sekiranya ianya berfitnah (atau tidak) ianya berfitnah (atau tidak) tidak kira bagaimana ianya diterbitkan.
[10] Mahkamah kita agak bermampu mentadbir keadilan samada dengan pertolongan daripada seorang peguamcara dan peguambela atau tidak. Mereka juga bermampu mengendalikan aliran award ganti rugi dalam kes-kes fitnah. Suatu contoh yang jelas adalah penghakiman Mahkamah Rayuan dalam Liew Yew Tiam & Ors v. Cheah Cheng Hoc yang dilaporkan baru-baru ini.
[Rayuan dibenarkan dengan majoriti.]
Reported by Usha Thiagarajah

Case(s) referred to:
D’Cruz v. AG [1971] 1 LNS 26; [1971] 2 MLJ 130 (refd)
Graham Starforth Hill v. The Bar Council of Malaya & Anor [1972] 1 LNS 38; [1972] 2 MLJ 178 (refd)
In re Geoffrey Robertson [2001] 4 CLJ 146 (refd)
Jude Philomen Benny v. Majlis Peguam Malaysia [1997] 1 LNS 42; [1997] 5 MLJ 309 (refd)
Lee Wong Tiang v. PP [1970] 1 LNS 58; [1971] 2 MLJ 40 (refd)
Liew Yew Tiam v. Ors v. Cheah Cheng Hoc & Ors [2001] 2 CLJ 385 (refd)
Louis Blom-Cooper v. Attorney General, Malaysia & Ors [1978] 1 LNS 109; [1979] 1 MLJ 68 (refd)
Nepline Sdn Bhd v. Jones Lang Wooter [1995] 1 CLJ 865 (refd)
Re Andrew Hilary Caldecott QC [1998] 4 CLJ Supp 379 (not foll)
Re B Larbalestier QC [1987] 2 CLJ 34; [1987] CLJ (Rep) 489 (refd)
Re C Ross-Munro QC [1986] 1 LNS 122; [1988] 2 MLJ 654 (refd)
Re Michael John Mustill [1970] 1 LNS 137; [1971] 1 MLJ 175 (refd)
Re Reginald W Goff QC [1962] 1 LNS 165; [1962] 28 MLJ 241 (refd)
Legislation referred to:
Advocates and Solicitors Ordinance 1947, ss. 5(5), 8A(1)
Civil Law Act 1956, s. 3(1)
Federal Constitution, art. 10
Legal Profession Act 1976, ss. 3, 11(1)(c), (2), 18(1)(a), (b), (3)
Other source(s) referred to:
“Justice Hangs in the Balance” Observer Newspaper, 28 August 1988

Counsel:
For the appellant – Cecil Abraham (Muhammad Shafee & Gurmeet Kaur); M/s Shafee & Co
For the plaintiffs – Dato’ V Sivaparanjothi (S Rutheram & Ashok Vijay); M/s V Siva & Partners
For the AG – Dato’ Azhar Mohd SFC
For the Bar Council – Edmund Bon
For the Bar Committee – Yasmeen Shariff
[Appeal from High Court, Kuala Lumpur; Originating Motion No: R2-17-33-99]

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