Lacunae and the law


It was eye-opening to read Justice Choo Han Teck’s grounds of decision regarding the issue of the lawyer who was unqualified to supervise legal trainees on their journey to be called to the Singapore Bar.

The incident has exposed a literal lacuna in the law, when it comes to learning and development in Singapore’s legal fraternity.

As Justice Choo Han Teck said in his introduction, this case really raises more questions than answers.

Personally, I’m curious to know:

  1. How the supervisor was allowed to supervise the trainee, despite the former not being qualified to do so;
  2. If there were similar cases prior to this one – i.e. a trainee being called to the bar despite having an unqualified supervisor – that have gone under the radar; and
  3. What safeguards will be put in place to prevent this from happening again.

On the same topic about lacunae and that law, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Lacuna Training Solutions!

Founded in 2017 by Sim Khadijah Binte Mohammed, Lacuna is Singapore’s first dedicated legal skills training firm with a special focus on developing young lawyers.

For laymen like me with a soft-spot for puns and aptly-named businesses or products, a “lacuna in the law” is a form of jargon specific to the legal industry.

The phrase refers to gaps or imperfections in the law, where loopholes may exist or exploitations may occur.

It’s a delightful company name in the context of legal training, given the core business of people development: identifying learning needs and addressing them for individual and organisational growth.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

(IMAGE: Vaun Phan/

There were an inordinate amount of clicks to this website for “mark yeow revology” last month.

Being curious, I Googled the phrase and discovered a certain Mark Yeow has been ordered to pay SGD60,000 in defamation damages to media personality Vaune Phan.

You can read more about Vaune’s ordeal here.

This is the same Mark Yeow of Scooter Narcotics with whom I had a protracted interaction, between 2013 and 2014.

In this, there is some irony.

After I posted my review, Yeow issued, through a lawyer, a cease and desist letter to take down the review, alleging it was defamatory.

I had a cordial discussion about the review with the lawyer, in which I established the review was a fair comment in light of the events that transpired.

Vaune, well done on staying the course so that justice could be served. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”!

Updates on the TAS saga.

  1. My letter to the Sunday Times forum page has been published. Not in its entirety though – the sarcastic bits were toned down – but the message has remained intact. Kudos to the editors for a good job.
  2. Ashiq Idris has also responded to my e-mail. His reply below:

From: Ashiq Idris <>
Date: February 6, 2009 11:37:30 AM GMT+08:00
To: Laremy Lee
Subject: Response to your Email

Dear Laremy,

I am writing to you in response to your email to the Association dated 2 Feb 2009.  Here I would like to clarify on behalf of the Association that the Association had commissioned an independent Panel of Inquiry to look into the case.  Upon completing their inquiry they have submitted their report to the Association which includes their recommendation on the punishment to be imposed.  The TAS Management Committee agreed to adopt the recommendation and subsequently the two athletes were notified on the decision.

I would also like to clarify that the infringement was “Disobeying instruction of the coach” and the punishment given was imposed on the said infringement.  Disobeying instruction is something the Association see very seriously and for that matter most other National Sports Associations.

I hope I have clarify the reason why they were being punished in contrary to what had been reported in the local media and speculated out of proportion.

I would like to thank you for your comments.

Ashiq Idris

Is the case closed? I don’t know, but I still remain firm on my stand: although rules must be followed, this ‘rule’ in particular is archaic and has no place in our day and age. Also, some points to be clarified:

  • This isn’t about sex, or indecency, by the way, although many people have mistaken it to be so. Please do not be misled. It’s about jurisprudence, I think, but please let me know if I am using the term wrongly.
  • The media did not blow the matter out of proportion. The Straits Times merely reported on the truth, and they did a good job, might I add. The only thing that has been blown out of proportion is the nature and the severity of the punishment – if one is needed at all.
  • I think the above two points merely go to show that Singaporeans need a very good grounding in media literacy, and I’m glad the education system is making an attempt to bridge this gap.

In any case, I hope Dinah and Ying Ren keep on training. It would be nice to see them on the global stage someday, because these are two Singaporeans I’d be very proud to support and cheer my lungs out for.