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The New System of Civil Appeals: What "Constitutional or Administrative Law" Is; Whether to Appeal to the Appellate Division or the Court of Appeal; and Proposals for Broader Reform - Tan Beng Hui Carolyn v Law Society of Singapore [2023] SGCA 7

Benjamin Joshua Ong

(2023) 35 SAcLJ 421

An application was made under s 95 of the Legal Profession Act to set aside a penalty imposed by the Council of the Law Society. The Court of Appeal held that an appeal lay to the Appellate Division of the High Court, and not the Court of Appeal, because this was not a “case relating to constitutional or administrative law”. The reasoning is problematic: it relied on an overly narrow conception of “public powers”, conflated judicial review with administrative law more broadly, erroneously considered the merits of the application as relevant to the “which court” question, and overlooked the similarities between the present application and a typical application for judicial review. This note proposes a more detailed definition of “constitutional or administrative law”, and presents further, more fundamental proposals for reform to prevent excessive satellite litigation and allocate appeals more efficiently.