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Lawyer M Ravi barred from applying to practise for 2 years

SINGAPORE — Non-practising lawyer M Ravi, who had pleaded guilty to four charges of misconduct, has been barred from applying for a practising certificate for two years by a High Court, which said the sanction was to safeguard public interest and uphold the integrity of the legal profession.

Lawyer M Ravi arrives at the Supreme Court on Sept 6, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Lawyer M Ravi arrives at the Supreme Court on Sept 6, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — Non-practising lawyer M Ravi, who had pleaded guilty to four charges of misconduct, has been barred from applying for a practising certificate for two years by a High Court, which said the sanction was to safeguard public interest and uphold the integrity of the legal profession.

In judgment grounds released on Thursday (Oct 27), the Court of Three Judges — comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang — said Mr Ravi’s mental condition has caused and continues to cause him to conduct himself "deplorably in relation to the judiciary, his clients and the profession as a whole", including making "baseless, racially-charged allegations".

Mr Ravi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder since 2006 — which is punctuated by episodes of mania and depression — and had also been suspended for a year in 2006.

While he was compliant with his prescribed medication regime, his condition had deteriorated "rapidly and precipitously", leading to a series of events last year, the court ruled.

On one instance, Mr Ravi created a ruckus at the Law Society of Singapore’s (LawSoc) premises on Feb 10 last year, a few hours after it ordered him to stop his legal practice.

Separately, he also made inappropriate statements against the LawSoc president and his family members in a Facebook post. Mr Ravi also made false allegations against two lawyers.

Mr Ravi apologised to the society and the individuals affected subsequently, after he checked himself into a hospital on the advice of his psychiatrist.

The Court of Three Judges noted that this was not a case of dishonesty, and that Mr Ravi was suffering from a hypomanic episode — characterised by symptoms such as an irritable mood — at the material time.

But given that Mr Ravi’s deteriorating mental condition had resulted in the series of misconduct, it "places our focus sharply on the need to protect the public", the court said.

"A sanction that disables the solicitor from practising for a time may be warranted by the need to protect the public and uphold confidence in the integrity of the profession even if that sanction might seem excessive if one looked at it purely from the perspective of whether, having regard to the actual culpability of the offender, the sanction was appropriate in the circumstances," it added.

The court also urged Mr Ravi to work towards "as full a recovery as possible" in the two-year prohibition period. After that, Mr Ravi can apply to resume practice.

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