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Bus drivers suing SBS Transit fire M Ravi as their lawyer after ‘shocking and embarrassing’ conduct in court

Bus drivers suing SBS Transit fire M Ravi as their lawyer after ‘shocking and embarrassing’ conduct in court

Source: TODAY
Article Date: 24 Nov 2021
Author: Low Youjin

At one point during a court hearing, lawyer M Ravi referred to Senior Counsel Davinder Singh as a “clown” and accused Justice Audrey Lim of being biased.

  • 13 bus drivers are suing SBS Transit for allegedly unfair work practices
  • The first day of a four-day trial was meant to have started on Nov 22
  • However, it was derailed after their lawyer M Ravi behaved in a way the drivers described as "embarrassing"
  • They said in a media statement that Mr Ravi was discharged from the case and they are seeking a new lawyer to represent them

A group of 13 bus drivers who are suing SBS Transit for allegedly unfair work practices have discharged their lawyer M Ravi after a courtroom drama erupted on Monday (Nov 22), which frustrated the start of what was meant to be a four-day hearing on the dispute.

The bus drivers said in a statement on Tuesday that they were “very embarrassed” by the lawyer’s behaviour towards Justice Audrey Lim, who was presiding over the hearing, and the opposing counsel Davinder Singh.

During the hearing, Mr Ravi had at one point referred to Mr Singh as a “clown” and accused Justice Lim of being biased and demanded that she disqualify herself from hearing the case, media reports said.

Each of the 13 bus drivers is suing SBS Transit over what Justice Lim said in June are essentially the same matters pertaining to their employment.

Mr Chua Qwong Meng, a representative of the bus drivers, said that about S$720,000 is involved in the allegations of all 13 suits, which include unpaid overtime fees and contentions on the maximum consecutive number of work days allowed.

The drivers' statement on Tuesday, which was sent to TODAY by Mr Chua, a former bus driver himself, read: “There was absolutely no excuse or justification for M Ravi to call Mr Singh a ‘clown’.” 

Mr Ravi, who is from KK Cheng Law LLC law firm, had also told the court on Monday that Mr Chua, whose case is being heard first, no longer had any faith in Singapore’s judicial system and that he no longer wished to proceed.

The drivers said in their statement that there was “no truth whatsoever” in what Mr Ravi said and that they have every intention to proceed with litigation.

“We shall now look for a competent lawyer to represent us in the proceedings and we owe it to our fellow SBS Transit drivers to see to it that justice is done.”

‘WE DO NOT CONDONE IT’

The Straits Times reported on Monday that the name-calling of Mr Singh occurred when both lawyers were discussing issues related to a witness who had been subpoenaed by Mr Ravi.

Mr Ravi then told Mr Singh "don't be a clown, just email", which meant that he wanted the details sent in by email.

Mr Singh, a senior counsel from Davinder Singh Chambers, complained about this to Justice Lim as she was not present to witness it.

The court proceedings were being held by video call.

When she asked if it was true, Mr Ravi denied it.

The Straits Times also reported that Mr Ravi had accused Justice Lim of being biased and demanded that she disqualify herself from hearing the case.

This accusation arose when Mr Chua, who was physically at Mr Ravi's office, appeared on the video call to begin his testimony.

CNA reported that Mr Ravi then alleged that there was a “breach” in Mr Chua’s right to a fair trial because Mr Singh’s colleague, Mr Timothy Lin, was sitting in the same room as Mr Chua.

Mr Ravi had told Mr Lin to leave and that he would be filing a police report.

Mr Ravi told the court that Mr Lin’s presence in the office would give him access to “privileged communications”, CNA reported.

However, Justice Lim noted that such a practice had been done before and was meant to ensure that evidence was given without coaching or other influence.

Mr Ravi then responded by asking Justice Lim to recuse herself and claimed that she was “biased” for allowing Mr Singh’s lawyer to enter his office. 

He also remarked that his client had lost faith in the Singapore judicial system and did not want to proceed with the case anymore.

In their statement, the drivers said: “What he displayed yesterday was a total shock to us, who had put our trust in him. He has let us down very badly and hurt our case immeasurably.

“We do not condone M Ravi’s behaviour at all."

The drivers added that they had already paid S$55,000, raised through the “public’s generosity”, to Mr Ravi to represent them.

Mr Chua clarified in a letter sent to the Supreme Court Registrar, seen by TODAY, that he was not seeking the recusal of Justice Lim.

In a separate statement addressed to Mr Ravi, also seen by TODAY, Mr Chua told the lawyer that he was discharged from handling the case.

He added that he wanted Mr Ravi to provide, among other things, a full statement of accounts as well as for all balance fees to be refunded.

Mr Chua also told Mr Ravi that he “reserved the right” to lodge a complaint to the Law Society of Singapore regarding Mr Ravi’s behaviour.

Aside from Mr Chua, the other drivers suing SBS Transit are: Mr Lee Chye Chong, Mr Chian Poh Seng, Mr Fung Chean Seng, Mr Tan Ting Hock Robin, Mr Thiyagu Balan, Mr GAn Kim Kiam, Mr Huzainal Hussein, Mr Lim You Onn, Mr Chiew Yi Yee, Mr Meerah Mohamed Halideen, Mr Razak Hasim and Mr Mohamad Sani Din.

It was agreed on March 4 last year that Mr Chua's case would be heard as a test case, with the other 12 suits held in abeyance pending the determination of his case.

Copyright 2021 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

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