Christopher de Souza, a lawyer, Member of Parliament (MP) for the People’s Action Party (PAP) and deputy speaker of Parliament, was found guilty of professional misconduct by a disciplinary tribunal.
The MP for the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC was found to have failed to make full disclosure to the court despite being aware that his client Amber Compounding Pharmacy and Amber Laboratories had breached the conditions of a search order, according to Channel NewsAsia and The Straits Times.
de Souza’s client, Amber, had gotten hold of documents in 2018 through a search order, with the information being confidential and only to be used for High Court suits.
Amber used the documents to file police reports and other reports against parties that they were taking legal action against.
The firm’s actions had occurred before de Souza and his firm Lee and Lee, took over the case, and de Souza was later made aware of Amber’s breaches.
He knowingly helped Amber suppress evidence by omitting information in an affidavit that he filed on 28 January 2019.
de Souza was found guilty by a two-member disciplinary tribunal of professional misconduct, in a report that was published on 5 December.
They said that de Souza knew that it was his duty to disclose the prior use of the documents and information by Amber.
They added that at the centre of the issue was what de Souza should have done when he discovered the use of the documents and information and whether he should have informed the court and the opposing lawyer of the breach.
They came to the belief that de Souza’s failure to make full disclosure was equivalent to suppressing evidence, and that he was party to and help assist in the suppression by filing the affidavit.
The disciplinary tribunal found sufficient grounds for de Souza to face disciplinary sanction before the Court of Three Judges (which is the highest disciplinary body for lawyers) on one of the 5 charges that he was facing, the other 4 charges against him were dismissed.
de Souza’s lawyers from WongPartnership told the media that their client had acted with the utmost integrity in the conduct of the matter.
They added that they will deny the charge, saying “we will strenuously resist it and argue that it too shall be dismissed.”
“Integrity, honesty and incorruptibility are fundamental to the Party. The standing of each PAP MP reflects on the Party, and the Party expects all MPs to uphold the highest standards.
We are aware of the professional disciplinary proceedings by the Law Society against MP Christopher de Souza, in his capacity as a lawyer.
Mr de Souza faced five charges before the Disciplinary Tribunal. The Tribunal cleared him of four of the charges.
Mr de Souza has informed us that he denies any wrongdoing. He will argue his case on the one charge, on appeal before the Court of Three Judges.
We will await the verdict of the Court of Three Judges, and determine the course of action necessary after the verdict.”