Appeals Court Judge Recuses Himself From Hearing Shafee's Appeal

PUTRAJAYA, July 14 (Bernama) -- Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mah Weng Kwai on Monday recused himself from hearing an appeal brought by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board's decision to fine him for misconduct in his profession.

"I think in abundance of caution, I will recuse myself, said Mah, whom Muhamad Shafee had requested to consider recusing himself from hearing the appeal due to his previous close association with the Bar Council.

Mah was Bar Council chairman between 2001 and 2003, and was also a member of the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board for 10 years.

Muhammad Shafee informed the court that one of the grounds that he would be raising in the appeal was that the Bar had practised "selective prosecution" and that Mah might find it uncomfortable to hear the appeal.

During the proceedings, Muhammad Shafee was caught in an embarassing position when he had to disrobe himself in open court as he was representing himself.

Mah, who observed that Muhammad Shafee was in his lawyer's robe, had asked him whether he was wearing a robe to which the senior lawyer replied that he was.

Muhammad Shafee appeared to be unaware initially but he was later seen promptly removing his robe upon realisation.

A counsel who is a litigant in his own case is required by legal tradition to disrobe.

Earlier, Muhammad Shafee had requested the court to postpone the hearing of the appeal to another date for two reasons.

The first reason was to enable him and the Bar Council to exchange their respective written submissions and secondly, was on Mah's recusal.

Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof who chaired the panel subsequently, adjourned the appeal to another date to be heard before a new panel, excluding Mah.

Also presiding on the panel was Justice Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim.

The matter subsequently, went for case mangement before the Court of Appeal registrar who fixed Oct 14 for hearing of the appeal.

On Oct 5, 2012, the disciplinary board fined Muhammad Shafee RM5,000, following a complaint by then Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan on Sept 23, 2010, that he had breached Section 94(3)(k) of the Legal Profession Act.

The complaint was based on an interview given by Muhammad Shafee to The Star and two articles entitled, 'Counsel rests his case' and 'Keeping within the letter of the law' which were published in the English daily on Sept 27, 2009.

The disciplinary committee's findings were that Muhammad Shafee had publicised himself and his firm of solicitors in a manner that infringed the Legal Profession Publicity Rules 2001.

On Jan 10, this year, Muhammad Shafee failed in his appeal at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to set aside the decision of the disciplinary board.

The Bar was represented by lawyer Arthur Wang.


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