Retired judges should not litigate: Bar Council

Jaqueline P’ng,

The Bar Council passed a resolution today to prohibit retired judges from litigating in court, said president Christopher Leong.

After the Bar’s 68th Annual General Meeting (AGM), he told reporters that if retired judges were allowed to appear as counsel, it may affect public perception as to the administration of justice.

“It’s understandable that a person represented by a lawyer will feel that he is at a disadvantage if the adverse party is represented by a retired judge.”

The resolution, which was jointly submitted by Tan Sri V C Georgea, a retired Court of Appeal judge who has returned to practice but not litigated in court, along with five other retired judges of the superior courts.

“It is not the question of whether there’s actually bias or advantage. The point is, it affects public confidence, and that outweighs their ability to appear in court.” He said.

Following the resolution, the Bar which consists 13,000 members, will call on the incoming Bar council to persuade the Attorney-General to amend the Legal Profession Act 1976 and push for urgent presentation in Parliament.

“This amendment doesn’t stop them from practising, they can still do conveyancing and consultation, just not go to court.”

Leong citied examples of Singapore, Sri Lanka and India which prohibits retired judges from litigating in court, and Australia’s Victoria state even punish those breaking the rule by forfeiting their judicial pension.

The Bar has vow to take all reasonable steps to educate the public on the reasons for the proposed amendment to the law.