Ex-maid’s complaint among firm’s many notable cases

Former domestic maid Parti Liyani’s high-profile complaint against two deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) is scheduled to be heard by a disciplinary tribunal in September.

Veteran lawyer Peter Low and his colleague Remy Choo Zheng Xi were appointed to present Ms Liyani’s case in the proceedings against the DPPs. Mr Low said eight days have been fixed for the hearings.

The case of Ms Parti, who was acquitted of stealing from her employer following an appeal in the High Court, stirred public interest last year and triggered a nine-hour parliamentary debate over Singapore’s criminal justice system.

The two DPPs involved in prosecuting Ms Parti’s case, Ms Tan Yanying and Mr Tan Wee Hao, are now facing a disciplinary tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice in relation to their conduct in the case.

Mr Low said: “Our role is somewhat similar to the Law Society when it appoints someone to prosecute a case before a disciplinary tribunal. We will let the facts and evidence speak for themselves, and present Ms Liyani’s case in a fair and complete manner.”

Last October, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), in a media statement, said the two legal service officers “welcome the chance to present a full and transparent account of what transpired during the trial” and “will cooperate fully in any inquiry”.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an AGC spokesman said last December that senior counsel Davinder Singh and Jason Chan had been engaged “for their relevant expertise” to represent the DPPs, as the complaint involved serious allegations.

The spokesman added: “Under the government instruction manual, the Government may give legal aid to an officer when legal proceedings are undertaken by or against him in his official capacity.”

“As the complaint against the DPPs arose in the course of them carrying out their official duties, AGC is providing them legal aid to appoint the private senior counsel”, in accordance with the manual, said the spokesman.

Ms Parti’s complaint is one of several headline-hogging cases that Mr Low has handled.

The law firm he founded marked its 10th anniversary this month. What began as a two-lawyer firm has become Peter Low & Choo LLC, a boutique litigation firm with 12 lawyers. It includes consultant Michael Hor, former National University of Singapore law lecturer and former law dean of the University of Hong Kong.

One recent key case the firm handled was that of convicted drug trafficker Muhammad Nabill Mohd Fuad, who was on death row. He was acquitted by the top court in a landmark ruling.

In another key case, the firm represented litigant Bryan Choong, who sought to declare Section 377A of the Penal Code unconstitutional. The case was recently heard before a specially constituted five-judge Court of Appeal.

In 2018, Mr Low, a former Law Society president, was hailed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon as a role model for young lawyers.

“Time and again, he showed himself to have the courage of his convictions when he stepped forward to represent unpopular persons and causes and, in so doing, he brought the promise of justice to all,” Mr Menon said at a Mass Call event during which lawyers are called to the Bar.

Mr Low began his career in 1977 as a government lawyer, before going into private practice and working in large law firms.

“Working in my own firm meant I had a wide bandwidth to do pro bono and public interest cases, unlike in a big firm where there are constraints on how much you can do in these areas. This is in addition to the usual areas of practice like criminal law, family law and other civil cases,” said Mr Low, whose daughters Christine and Elaine are also lawyers in his firm.

The father of three added that in his early years of practice he looked up to seniors such as Mr David Marshall and Mr J.B. Jeyaretnam, who taught him that lawyers must represent their clients fearlessly.

Mr Low said: “This was the tradition from the English Bar of being fearless in the broad sense of the term, regardless of the forum, the issue or the legal adversary.”

Mr Choo said: “That our firm is able to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year is a tribute to all who believe in the strength and importance of fearless advocacy.”

Ms Christine Low added: “We are heartened by the unwavering support from our clients, families and friends, and look forward to many more years of growth ahead.”