Foo Ton Hin (“Benson Foo”), a member of the Malaysian Bar, felt that the matter could be best determined by the court. My firm as solicitors, and I as Counsel, agreed to act for him, pro bono, as I believed he was acting in the interests of the Bar, and not for any personal interest. On 6/12/2006, Benson Foo filed an Originating Summons seeking, inter alia determination as to whether the said elections were void. As it was an issue that involved the interest of the Malaysian Bar, Benson Foo made it clear from the outset that he was not seeking any Order on costs in the event he was successful.
On 15th February 2007, however, the High Court held that Benson Foo did not have locus standi, and struck out his Originating Summons with costs, upon the application by one of the Defendants (Dr. Yaacob Merican), made under Order 18 Rule 19. Regardless of the striking out of the action, Benson Foo was vindicated when the Bar Council proceeded to appoint new scrutineers to complete the counting of the ballots and thereafter declaring the persons elected, incidentally, some of the very relief sought by Benson Foo in the Court proceedings. The Members of the Malaysian Bar subsequently ratified the decision of the Bar Council with regard to the said election at the 2007/2008 AGM.
That Defendant then took out his Bill of Costs, seeking RM120,000/- for getting up. The taxing officer allowed the sum of RM70,000/- for getting-up which she confirmed on review. Benson appealed. On 19th April 2010, the Judge dismissed his appeal and maintained the amount awarded. The taxed costs stands at RM83,707-50. Requests for a waiver or reduction have been turned down. Benson wishes to bring this unhappy chapter to a close and does not wish to take the matter further. He intends to pay the full sum, as soon as possible.
Right thinking members of the Bar would agree that it is most unfair to leave Benson Foo to bear costs of such magnitude when all he had done was to bring a dispute to Court in the interests of the Bar at large.
In these circumstances, I appeal to members of the Bar to contribute towards a fund to pay the costs of more than RM80,000 that Benson has now to bear. Contributions may be sent to my firm. Receipts will be issued, and there will be full transparency and accountability for all monies collected.
Thank you for your kindness and generosity.
11 May 2010