The Court of 3 Judges found that LSF had acted with complete disregard for the interests of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
She blindly followed the directions of her husband who is a significant beneficiary of the Last Will. She helped to rush through the execution of the Will after Mr Lee’s lawyer, Ms Kwa was removed from the email chain.
She retrieved a draft of the First Will from her own records. She did not ascertain if this was the final version of the First Will. She misrepresented it to Mr Lee as the executed version of the First Will when in fact it was not.
Even when she was told by her colleague, Ms Kong that Mr Lee had deemed it necessary to ask twice who drafted the Last Will before he signed it, LSF did not take any step to clarify the position with him.
Complete disregard for Mr Lee’s interests
CJ Menon said in the written judgement that LSF was simply focused on doing what LHY wanted her to do without considering Mr Lee’s interest at all.
This is reinforced by the fact that after the Last Will was executed, LSF asked her husband, rather than Mr Lee Kuan Yew, what she should do with the two original copies of the Will.
CJ Menon described her failure to have due regard for Mr Lee’s interest as a grave failure.
Mr Lee had evidently expressed a wish to re-execute the First Will. But because of her total disregard for Mr Lee’s interest, he ended up signing the Last Will without being aware that it was not the First Will.
She agreed with the Court that Mr Lee would have believed her when she told him the draft Last Will was the First Will.
The Judgement said her inaccurate representations about the Draft Last Will contributed to Mr Lee’s decision to proceed with its execution without waiting for Ms Kwa to be back. Mr Lee thought he was in effect re-executing the First Will.
Kwa left in the dark
After the execution of the Will, LSF notified Mr Lee’s lawyer, Ms Kwa. She left Kwa an innocuous quick note that left out the circumstances surrounding the execution of the Will. As a result, Kwa did not know that Mr Lee had been encouraged by LHY to go ahead with the execution of the Will because she was ‘uncontactable’ (when in fact she was very contactable) and that it was unwise to wait for her to come back. Kwa was left with the impression that there was nothing amiss.
The preparation of a will is not just a routine exercise in form filling as it entails the preparation of “one of the most important legal documents which an individual can execute”. A solicitor who is tasked to prepare and attend to the execution of a will is thus impressed with serious responsibilities, and should conscientiously avoid being in any situation where even a potential conflict of interest may appear to exist. A solicitor who fails to act with exceptional care and, where appropriate, as it is here, with restraint and circumspection must be prepared to have her conduct scrutinised and, perhaps, even her motives called into question.
– CJ Menon –
Throwback to Disciplinary Tribunal
She described herself as an obedient wife who did what her husband asked her to do.
During the hearing at the Disciplinary Tribunal when she was asked why she asked her colleagues to make themselves available the next day at short notice for the execution of the will, she answered, “Because I’m an obedient wife and Yang told me to do so.”