Law Society calls for Samuel Seow to be struck off following his assault on staff

·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
CCTV footage showing Samuel Seow using criminal force on his employees. (Photo: Video screencaps)
CCTV footage showing Samuel Seow using criminal force on his employees. (Photo: Video screencaps)

SINGAPORE — The Law Society is seeking to strike off long-time advocate and solicitor Samuel Seow from the rolls following his assault on three female staff members under his employ in 2018.

The Law Society, represented by Dhillon Dinesh Singh, Alisa Toh and Loong Tse Chuan, argued that Seow had not only brought the law profession into disrepute, but displayed a lack of integrity in the way he painted his version of events to the media.

Arguing before a Court of Three judges on Monday (28 February), lead counsel Singh said that given the context of the offences was an employer-employee relationship, Seow had breached the trust his subordinates placed in him.

Seow is currently still practising. According to the Ministry of Law’s directory of solicitors, Seow is a consultant with Robert Wang & Woo LLP.

Seow pleaded guilty on 27 July 2020 to criminal charges involving force against Rachel Kang, an artiste and events executive at Beam Artistes, and Brenda Kong, his niece and a lawyer at Seow’s law firm. He also admitted to another two charges, involving one more female employee.

Seow has not yet been sentenced as his case was adjourned for a hearing on his psychiatric issues.

Recording, footage of assault went viral

Reports of Seow’s assault on the women first emerged in 2018, with a 30-minute audio recording of a quarrel between Seow and his niece going viral. A year later, two videos capturing the acts of violence were uploaded online.

On 17 April 2018, Seow poked Kang’s forehead forcefully with his finger and pushed at the files she was carrying. Later, he was captured raining slaps on Kong and hitting another female employee who tried to pull him away. He was finally restrained by a male employee.

Following his criminal case, the Law Society brought eight charges of misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor against him at a disciplinary tribunal. Seow pleaded guilty to all eight charges and Monday’s hearing was to decide on his appropriate sentence.

Not a one-off, says Law Society

Arguing before Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Steven Chong, Singh said Seow’s conduct had been unacceptable regardless of the employee’s competence.

“(Seow) we must emphasise is a senior member of 19 years at the bar,” said Singh, who added that the incident had not been a one-off, but showed a pattern of unacceptable behaviour over time.

Seow’s lack of integrity was evidenced by how he put forth a narrative that was contradictory to the facts he pleaded guilty to. Seow had given interviews to the media blaming the victims, and downplayed the incident on a Facebook post.

Singh contended that Seow made matters worse by “putting the entire incident in the public eye” through the media, with “little regard for the truth of the victim”, showing that his only concern seemed to be his own reputation.

On Seow’s diagnosis of adjustment disorder, Singh said this had only been made a year after the incident and Seow's psychiatrist had failed to explain how it contributed to the offence.

If the judges do not strike Seow off, the Law Society will be seeking four years suspension.

Slaps with a lot of drama

Representing Seow, lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen, Johannes Hadi and Genghis Koh argued that Seow had been under stress during the offences and has since taken steps to see his psychiatrist.

Thuraisingam said that Seow accepted that he had fallen short of the ideals of what is required of the profession and was willing to accept necessary consequences.

However, CJ Menon was unconvinced, saying, “That doesn’t cut ice with me because every solicitor who has got a serious practice is under stress and you of all people would know that. You represent death row prisoners, you know how stressful that work is… I don’t think stress is a relevant factor in this context.”

Asked by Judge of Appeal Chong what the appropriate sanction should be, Thuraisingam pointed the court to the circumstances of the matter and sought to differentiate the degrees of violence, adding that Seow’s assault were not “extremely hard blows” but were slaps with a lot of drama.

In response, the CJ noted that Seow’s video did not “fit in” with the narrative Thuraisingam was presenting.

Judge of Appeal Phang also cautioned Thuraisingam against “slicing and dicing” the incident, but to view it holistically. “I think it may be doing more harm than good to justify something that cannot be justified at the end of the day,” said the judge.

The Court of Three Judges will deliver their judgment at a later date.

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