S'porean surgeon accused of overcharging her patient, her husband accuses lawyers of overcharging her

Lawyers' costs lowered from $1 million to $370,000 after review.

Belmont Lay| July 03, 02:26 AM

Note: Mothership.sg amended the headline, noting it was Susan Lim's husband, Deepak Sharma, who submitted the complaint about lawyers overcharging.

To cut a long convoluted story short, based on what was reported in The Business Times on July 2, 2014, here goes:

Surgeon Susan Lim, who was accused of overcharging her wealthy Bruneian patient and lost her case against the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) last year, was subsequently ordered to foot the bill to cover the cost of SMC's lawyers -- a common practice in law for the losing party to pay.

Her husband, Deepak Sharma, a recently retired Citi Private Bank global chairman, was funding her legal battle.

SMC's lawyers are Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho of WongPartnership (WongP). Yeo is currently a PAP member of parliament. And they want to recover the costs that is owed to them.


$1 million lawyers' fee

Now here's the mind-boggling part about SMC's lawyers's costs that fluctuated wildly: Sharma claims that WongP was charging what amounted to $77,102 for each day they were in court in one of their bills.

In another, it was $46,729 for each day in court.

And, for the third bill, the lawyers' charges amounted to $100,000 per hour of hearing.

The total bill from the WongPartnership lawyers? $1.007 million in total.

Dr Lim has disputed the amount billed, resulting in a taxation hearing. A taxation hearing takes place when the bill of costs submitted by the winning party of a lawsuit is disputed.

The assistant registrar at this taxation hearing subsequently reduced WongP's total bill of costs from the original $1.007 million to $340,000.

Yeo and Ho then applied to review this decision.

High Court Judge Justice Woo Bih Li, who reviewed the matter, finally allowed a total sum of $370,000 for the bill of costs.

This, in turn, prompted Sharma to complain.

In his complaint made to the Law Society of Singapore (Lawsoc) earlier this year, Sharma said:

"I believe that the actions by the lawyers in grossly overcharging my wife by $637,009 (the difference between the original bill amount of $1.007 million and the $370,000 allowed by Justice Woo) are dishonourable and constitute grossly improper conduct."


No lawyers in Singapore want a piece of this action

In response to this complaint to the Law Society by Sharma, a review committee (RC) was appointed.

Sharma's complaints against Yeo was dismissed by the RC as lacking in substance, as Yeo was not involved in the preparation of the bills, so that there was no misconduct on his part.

Sharma is now applying for a judicial review of the decision made by the RC and it is believed to be the first time someone has applied for a judicial review for such a case.

Sharma is also applying for the admission of a Queen's Counsel, Michael Fordham, to represent him in this action, which is before the High Court.

He revealed that he has been turned down by all of the over 20 Singapore Senior Counsel he approached.


Related article

Practising Senior Counsel in S’pore avoid representing surgeon Susan Lim like the plague


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