The advocates and solicitors’ disciplinary board has issued a letter calling on senior lawyer Zaid Ibrahim to show cause over alleged misconduct in Najib Razak’s final appeal in the SRC International case last year.
The former law minister, who is now a partner in Zaid Ibrahim, Suflan TH Liew & Partners, said the board, an independent body set up to investigate and punish lawyers for professional misconduct, has given him a month to explain.
“The board wants to know why I took the case and was unable to proceed when the court refused an adjournment,” he said in a recent Facebook posting.
The complaint had been brought by the Bar Council.
“The council assumes (our) action as unethical and unprofessional,” Zaid said, adding that he will provide an explanation.
He hopes the board will look into the matter in a fair manner.
Court records filed in the Federal Court reveal that the former prime minister discharged lead counsel Shafee Abdullah and solicitors Shafee & Co on July 26 last year.
Najib then appointed Zaid’s firm as his new solicitors and lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as lead counsel to argue the appeal before the apex court.
Shafee and his firm had appeared for Najib during trial in the High Court and the appeal in the Court of Appeal.
In late April, the Federal Court registry fixed Aug 15 to 26 to hear the final appeal.
Hisyam appeared alongside Zaid, Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam to argue a motion previously filed by Shafee & Co on Najib’s behalf seeking to admit new evidence and disqualify trial judge Nazlan Ghazali for a conflict of interest.
A five-member Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat dismissed the application on Aug 16 and refused a request for an adjournment of three to four months to enable Najib’s new defence team to prepare for the appeal proper.
On Aug 18, Hisyam told the bench that Najib had discharged Zaid’s firm as his solicitors, which the court allowed, and sought a discharge of himself as lead counsel, which the court refused.
On Aug 23, the court affirmed Najib’s conviction and maintained his 12-year jail term and fine of RM210 million or, in default, an additional five years in prison.
Najib, who filed a bid to review that decision in September, wants the Federal Court to set his conviction and sentence aside. He also wants another Federal Court bench consisting of at least seven judges to re-hear his appeal.
Shafee and his legal firm have since returned to represent Najib in the application which began on Thursday before a five-member bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Abdul Rahman Sebli.
The hearing will resume from Feb 20 to 22. – FMT