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SINGAPORE — The 13 former and current SBS Transit bus drivers taking their employer to court discharged their lawyer M Ravi on Monday (22 November), following what they described as his embarrassing behaviour in court.
In documents seen by Yahoo News Singapore, Chua Qwong Meng, who is representing the 13 drivers, applied to discharge Ravi and for an adjournment of proceedings to find a new lawyer. He also clarified that the group would not be applying for Justice Audrey Lim to recuse herself.
In a press release on Tuesday, Chua said the workers were "very embarrassed" by Ravi’s behaviour towards Justice Audrey Lim and opposing counsel Davinder Singh.
"What he displayed yesterday was a total shock to us, who had put our trust in him. He has let us down very badly and hurt our case immeasurably," said Chua, who added that there was "absolutely no excuse or justification" for Ravi to call Singh a "clown".
The workers filed a lawsuit in 2019 and last year against SBS over alleged breaches of the Employment Act, claiming that they had been underpaid for overtime work and had not been given sufficient rest days.
At the start of a four-day civil trial on Monday, Ravi accused Justice Lim of being biased and demanded that she recuse herself from the case, according to a Straits Times report.
Ravi also called Singh a "clown", and told the court that Chua did not want to participate in "unlawful proceedings" anymore. He alleged that Chua did not trust other lawyers in Singapore.
At one point in the proceedings, when the judge asked Ravi not to interrupt, Ravi told Justice Lim, "You are not above me."
On Tuesday, Chua stressed that there was “no truth” to Ravi's allegation that the drivers had no faith in the judicial system, or that they did not intend to proceed with the case. The group intends to proceed with the litigation and have informed the court.
He added that Ravi has already been paid legal fees of more than $55,000, which was raised "through the public’s generosity in donating to our cause".
In 2006, Ravi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an illness characterised by extreme mood swings. He was suspended from practising law by the High Court in 2015 due to his condition, but his practising certificate was restored four years later.
In January 2018, he was handed a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) for 18 months after causing hurt to two lawyers and trespassing into the premises of law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.
The 52-year-old told Today in 2019 that he had sought help and treatment and now had better insight into his condition.
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