Case Update: Law Society of Singapore v Sum Chong Mun [2017] SGHC 80 – Court disciplines lawyers for LPA improper witnessing

Law Society of Singapore v Sum Chong Mun [2017] SGHC 80

Significance: High Court of Three Judges reprimands two lawyers with regard to one of them signing as certificate issuer / witness of a lasting power of attorney (LPA) without actually witnessing the donor signing the document.

Significant extract below:

44 More specifically, an advocate and solicitor, in attending to the execution of a power of attorney, performs more than a mere ministerial role of “perfunctor[ily] preparing the power of attorney and witnessing its execution”. He must “tak[e] reasonable care to advise and ensure that his clients understand the implications of their actions” (see the decision of this court in Law Society of Singapore v K Jayakumar Naidu [2012] 4 SLR 1232 at [71]). These concerns must apply a fortiori for an LPOA which, unlike a power of attorney that generally deals with financial matters, may enable the donee to make decisions that affect the very life of the donor himself or herself.

45 Indeed, an advocate and solicitor who certifies an LPOA application is an important safeguard against the abuse of the LPOA regime. He works alongside the OPG, which exercises registry and investigative functions, to uphold the LPOA framework under the MCA and the MCR. Indeed, given that the certificate issuer ascertains a donor’s understanding of the implications of his LPOA, and may be the sole individual who is truly independent from the donor in an LPOA application, he is probably the primary bulwark against abuse of the LPOA regime.

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