I did Not Abscond With The $20k! I Am Still Pressing On With My Case Against NUS!


No, I did not abscond with the $20k! I am still pressing on with my case against NUS!!!

I was bewildered when someone wrote to me to say that he was told by a 3rd party that I had run away overseas with the $20,000 public donation that was meant to pay for the Security for Costs for the opposing party NUS (The National University of Singapore). The answer is of course “no lah!” Still pursuing #AccountabilityfromNUS.

I am of course pressured by the fact that I can’t update on any forward movement regarding my appeal to the Court of Appeal. I have received questions from members of the public including the donors and my reply has largely been that “I am busy.” This however, is not a good answer for proper accountability if the delay is for an extensive length of time. 

At this point in time, I know that the delay is going to be further extended, and I am kept away from dealing with the appeal matters against NUS. I feel compelled to give an explanation. 

I had begun the process of filing the papers for the Notice of Appeal on 26 August 2019, but I had met with some technical issues (will update in my next blog). I have also submitted the $20,000 bank cheque to the Supreme Court on 26 August 2019. I have requested the Court to hold on to the cheque while I sort out the technical issues. But the Court said “no” and wants to refund the money to me. When the $20,000 is refunded to me, I will deposit it into my POSB crowdfunding account for use to pay Security for Costs for NUS in the future. 

I should be working on matters related to the Court of Appeal right now, but…

I need a little bit of background to explain what has been keeping me away from the Court of Appeal matters. I began my lawsuit against NUS in 2012. Back in 2012, when I still had money to hire lawyers to represent me, I had gone to a senior lawyer in December 2012, who took my case together with his junior colleague. In late 2013, after I had already paid them more than $70,000, I realised that there were problems with what the lawyers were doing to my case, so I started talking to other lawyers.

When I told the lawyers who were representing me that I was discharging their services, they issued me with a Final Bill. This Final Bill SHOCKED me because, for the very first time the bill included a breakdown of the professional services rendered by the two lawyers. The breakdown was in the form of a “time sheet.” What was so shocking was the fact that they had charged me a higher hourly rate than what was written on our contract; one of the lawyers charged me his “charge out rate” for work actually done by an intern (which I understood was not chargeable, and of course not permissible) etc etc… Separately, having spoken to other lawyers, I found out that the approximately $70,000 that I had given to the lawyers for the Interim Bills was excessive for the work done.

Pause. Why would I pay say, ten over thousand dollars of professional fees, in an invoice without any breakdown? (I am referring to the Interim Bills I had already paid.) Well, I had very little experience in dealing with lawyers and their invoices and did not know what to expect to read in an invoice. As there had never been any breakdowns or time sheets in the Interim Bills for the professional work done, I had never understood how the services SHOULD BE billed. More importantly, I trusted the lawyers. After all, the junior lawyer I was dealing with constantly spoke about his human rights activism as a lay person and as a lawyer. The senior lawyer was very cordial towards me. They told me they fought for the underdogs against the big legal firms. So naturally, as you can imagine, I truly believed that I had legal warriors on my side from this so-called “boutique law firm specialising in human rights” (as the junior lawyer had referred to his law firm in words such as these). 
Upon seeing the breakdown in the Final Bill in January 2014, I was shocked by the dishonesty. At about the same time, I was also waking up to the fact that there were problems in the Interim Bills which I had already paid +$70,000 (including +3k credit). So, through another lawyer, a letter was sent to the boutique legal firm to ask them to tax the Interim Bills. There was no response to my letter. At the same time, the boutique law firm chased me to pay up the Final Bill for a few months, and then went silent.

In early 2016, the boutique law firm served a taxation application in the High Court on me out of the blue, without the courtesy of informing me beforehand. The taxation hearing was for the Final Bill. I had to present myself in Court witin a few days of the notice to argue against them. By then, I had the hindsight of two years (since discharging the services of the boutique law firm in 2014) to understand what issues had gone wrong when the boutique law firm was acting for me.

A taxation hearing is a court hearing to determine what is a fair amount that a legal firm could charge its clients. Taxation is conducted when clients and lawyers cannot agree on the bill. On 18 March 2016, the High Court taxed the boutique firm’s bill from $38,250 (pre-GST) to $18,000 nett! 
That represented gross overcharging by at least 112%!!! I was glad that the lies that the lawyers attempted to pull over the Court were exposed in Court during the proceedings! The lead lawyer arguing the taxation hearing was none other than the junior lawyer who represented me from late 2012 to early 2014 in my case against NUS. 
Towards the end of the hearing, since the Court had confirmed that the Final Bill was brought down by more than half, I realised that the Interim Bills for which I had given the lawyers +$70,000 must also be taxed. So, I asked the lead lawyer to give me the breakdowns of the Interim Bills. The lawyers agreed. 

“D” refers to me; “Ct” refers to the Court; “PC” refers to one of my former lawyers who is put on record agreeing to provide me with the breakdown of the Interim Bills, but has not done so to date.

A few days after the Taxation hearing, I wrote to the lawyers involved to ask for the breakdown and/or time sheet related to the Interim Bills. But they chose to stonewall me and would not reply. I even asked the Law Society for help! They promised the Law Society that they would contact me but never did.

About two months passed. In May 2016, I received a Letter of Demand from the boutique law firm, demanding that I pay the taxed down Final Bill amount and if I did not pay up, I had to be prepared for legal consequences!!! I wrote back and asked for the breakdowns and/or time sheets in the Interim Bills that my former lawyers had promised in Court to give me. Silence thereafter, until October 2016… 
I was left with no choice but to fight back against my former lawyers
Apart from the overcharging, after I discharged the services of the boutique law firm in 2014, I found out that there were multiple problems in the way the boutique law firm had managed my legal suit against NUS. Of course, I did not dare to sue them, because I did not have the money and because my hands were full with my lawsuit against NUS. I just wanted to concentrate on the lawsuit against NUS. However, when the boutique law firm threatened me with a lawsuit in their Letter of Demand, I decided to prepare a Statement of Claim just in case my former lawyers sued me.

Did the lawyers sue me? Yes. The next time I heard from them was when they served their lawsuit on me. I refused to be bullied and I filed the counterclaim against the boutique law firm and the lawyers who were responsible. This happened in October 2016. 

I must emphasise at this point – I had NO CHOICE but to fight my former lawyers, because THEY were suing me. In other words, I did NOT “choose”  to fight two legal battles at once; in fact, having to fight a second legal battle against my former lawyers, at the same time that I was fighting a legal battle with NUS, was the LAST thing that I wanted to do. I emphasise that I am NOT someone who “enjoys” legal battles, or who does this sort of thing for “fun.”   
It has been a tough journey, because I am dealing with NUS and their lawyers from Drew & Napier on the one hand, and the boutique firm lawyers and their lawyers from Allen & Gledhill on the other hand, together at the same time. These are two of Singapore’s Big Four legal firms. And both law firms had put up tremendous pressure on me for many years now to drop my claims against their clients. The boutique law firm and its lawyers have applied for interlocutory applications that are, in my opinion, abuses of the process of court, in their attempts to wear me down with attrition tactics. These include a second (2nd) striking out application of my counterclaim in 2018, after they made the first (1st) application in 2017. The second striking out application is still pending.

The boutique firm lawyers and their lawyers from Allen & Gledhill have opposed me tooth-and-nail when I applied to the Court recently for a “temporary stay of proceedings” on medical grounds; they filed another application against me to strike out an affidavit that I deposed in reply to one of their affidavit in the “temporary stay of proceedings.”

Again, someone asked me last week: “Why is your case against NUS so quiet?” Here is an update of why it has been so quiet in more recent weeks.

The “temporary stay of proceedings” for my case with the boutique law firm was supposed to be heard on 10th October 2019. I was planning to turn to the Court of Appeal matters in the NUS case after 10th of October 2019. I simply cannot cope with handling matters from two legal cases at the same time. However, the boutique firm lawyers had their lawyers from Allen and Gledhill make an application to Strike Out (my) Reply Affidavit used to support my application for a “temporary stay of proceedings.”

Originally, my application for a temporary stay of proceedings was supposed to be heard on 10th October 2019. But my former lawyers filed an application to Strike Out (my) Reply Affidavit on 7th October 2019. This “striking out” application would have to be heard first before before the hearing on the “temporary stay of proceedings” and my former lawyers  managed to get the Duty Registrar to fix the hearing on Striking Out (my) Reply Affidavit on 10th October on the same day as the hearing of the “temporary stay of proceedings.”
After close to two hours of arguments, both applications were adjourned. Now the boutique firm lawyers’ application to Strike Out (my) Reply Affidavit in my application for a “temporary stay of proceedings” will be heard on 25 October 2019. No dates have been given for my application for a “temporary stay of proceedings.”

I did request, and explained to Court, to fix hearings related to the interlocutory proceedings with the boutique firm lawyers to a time AFTER I complete some filing procedures related to the Court of Appeal for the NUS matter, but the Court refused. Right now, I am down with an infection and I find it extremely difficult to have to work on the affidavit. I am fatigued and exhausted.

The boutique firm lawyers have used developments in my legal battle with NUS to further complicate my lawsuit with them. I feel like NUS and their lawyers from Drew & Napier, and my former lawyers (and their lawyers from Allen & Gledhill), are all taking turns punching me and kicking me (metaphorically speaking) – and I don’t even have one lawyer on my side. The tactics that my former lawyers (and their lawyers) have employed against me, have likely helped NUS, by making it even more difficult for me to fight NUS. 
I have provided this information on my legal battles with my former lawyers, NOT because I think that this will really interest my readers and supporters (who have supported and encouraged me in my legal battle with NUS), but, rather, because I want my readers and supporters to understand how and why I have been distracted from dealing with my legal battle with NUS recently.

I want my readers and supporters to understand that I haven’t taken “a break” from my legal battle with NUS. 
In conclusion, I have written this post because I want my readers and supporters to understand that I’m actually having to fight TWO legal battles at once, against TWO of the biggest law firms in Singapore, while I now have NO lawyer at all and I cannot afford to hire a lawyer any more. I emphasise that I NEVER “chose” to fight TWO legal battles at once – in fact, my opponents in both legal battles FORCED me to fight them – I had no choice but to sue NUS, because NUS destroyed my career; and I had no choice but to fight my former lawyers, because THEY sued me first. I never “chose” any of this. However, despite all of these distractions and setbacks caused by my former lawyers and their lawyers, I certainly haven’t given up on my legal battle with NUS (and I will never give up), and I intend to turn my attention back to that legal battle as soon as possible. 
Thank you for reading my post.
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If you would like to contribute to my legal funds on the NUS case to defray the court filing fees, please contact me or send donations to —
Donation Details



POSB Everyday Savings Account 193-69702-0

Ten Leu Jiun Jeanne-Marie
DBS Bank Pte Ltd
12 Marina Boulevard,
DBS Asia Central,
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3,
Singapore 018982

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