14 SAcLJ 1 (2002)
Inherent Jurisdiction Re-Visited: An Expanding Doctrine ; Pinsler, Jeffrey

handle is hein.journals/saclj14 and id is 7 raw text is: Inherent Jurisdiction Re-Visited

INHERENT JURISDICTION RE-VISITED:
AN EXPANDING DOCTRINE
INTRODUCTION
1      The inherent power of the court to exercise its proceduraljurisdiction
to avoid injustice and ensure efficiency in litigation has long been recognised
as a fundamental element of the administration ofjustice.1 Yet, the courts,
conscious of their place in the Common Law system, their duty to apply
legislation2 as the primary source of law and the corresponding concern
thatjudicial initiatives should not compromise this obligation, have placed
limits on their capacity to generate a parallel and supplementaljurisprudence
to the rules of court.3 The recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in Wee
Soon Kim Anthony v Law Society of Singapore is significant in this
respect for it has opened the way for the application of a more broad-based
inherent power and a precise rationale for the doctrine. The judgment does
much to clarify the scope ofjudicial exercise of inherent power.
2      The approach of this article will be to consider the rulings of the
High Court and Court of Appeal in Wee Soon Kim against the background
of previous authorities, and to examine and assess the likely impact of that
case on the future of civil litigation.
FACTS OF WEE SOON KIM AND THE APPROACH OF THE HIGH
COURT
3      The appellant made a complaint to the Law Society concerning
certain advocates and solicitors. The Inquiry Committee recommended
that the complaint be dismissed and the Council of the Law Society
decided that there was no case for a formal investigation by a Disciplinary
Committee. The appellant applied to ajudge for an order under s 96(1) of
the Legal Profession Act directing the Society to apply to the Chief Justice
i   For an historical account of the doctrine in the context of Singapore, see J. Pinsler, 'The
inherent powers of the court' [1997] SJLS 1, at 2-12. Regarding the English perspective,
see Halsbury's Laws, 4th ed, vol 10, paras 845-847; Sir Jack Jacob, 'The inherent
jurisdiction of the court' (1970) Current Legal Problems 23 (reprinted in The Reform of
Civil Procedural Law, London: Sweet & Maxwell, (1982)).
2   Whether primary or subsidiary.
3   See 'The inherent powers of the court' [1997] SJLS 1, at 17-49.
4   The unreported judgment of the High Court is at O.S. No. 1573 of 2000, Registrar's
Appeal No. 600011 of 2001; judgment dated 9th March 2001. The judgment of the
Court of Appeal in this case is reported at [2001] 4 SLR 25.

14 SAcLJ

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