Getting a practising certificate might be an annual ritual for most lawyers in law firms in Singapore. Still, a recent case — Choo Cheng Tong Wilfred v Phua Swee Khiang — reminds us of its critical significance in our legal industry.
Suffice to say, because the lawyer did not have a practising certificate, he was not authorised to practice law in Singapore. Because he was not authorised, he was not entitled to any fees for legal work performed.
This rarely comes up because lawyers here must be in law firms to get a practising certificate, so this is an undeniable indicator of whether you are authorised or not. However, the implications are critical for anyone thinking of offering an alternative to law firms. Would you offer your expertise outside of a law firm if you can't get paid for it? By the way, it's a criminal offence too.