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Judge pulls out of SBF-FTX case citing husband’s law firm’s advisory link

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Judge pulls out of SBF-FTX case citing husband’s law firm’s advisory link

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Judge Pulls Out of SBF-FTX Case Citing Husband’s Law Firm’s Advisory Link

A judge has withdrawn from a high-profile case involving Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and its former technology partner, FTX, due to her husband’s law firm’s advisory relationship with one of the parties.

This is not the first time a judge has recused himself or herself in a case. There have been several prominent instances where judges have done so, when they or their respective law firms have had a direct or indirect connection to the case.

Accusations of Conflict of Interest

The recusal of the judge has raised questions of conflict of interest and whether the parties were aware of this prior to her appointment.

The SBF-FTX case involves allegations of breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets, with both sides claiming damages.

The judge in question is said to have recused herself after SBF’s lawyers raised objections over her husband’s firm’s advisory role in the case.

International Precedents

This is not an isolated incident. Across the world, judges often recuse themselves from cases in light of perceived conflicts of interest.

For instance, in 2018, the Chief Justice of Bangladesh’s Supreme Court recused herself from a case involving billion-dollar loan repayment made by a state-owned bank after it emerged her husband served as an advisor to the bank. And in Canada, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada recused himself from a case after it was revealed that his son-in-law was a partner at a firm representing one of the litigants.

Maintaining Judicial Integrity

While recusal of a judge is an appropriate avenue for maintaining judicial integrity, parties must ensure that such cases are disclosed before the appointment of the judge.

The law firm in question should also have the due diligence to inform its client of such potential conflicts of interest and refrain from accepting engagements when it is aware of such issues.

Taking these steps would foster public trust in the judicial process, promote fair and rule-based conflicts arbitration, and ultimately enrich the legal ecosystem.

Over the weekend, Justice Kannan Ramesh pulled out of the high-profile Singapore Bone and Joint (SBF) – FTX case due to potential conflict of interest.

The conflict arose due to Ramesh’s husband, David Lim, returning to his law firm Allen & Gledhill LLP (A&G) as an adviser. A&G is one of the legal firms acting on behalf of Singapore Bone and Joint (SBF), a subsidiary of FTX.

Justice Ramesh is the only judge allocated to hearing the case. In a joint statement by the Supreme Court registrar and attorney-general, he exercised his discretion to disqualify himself from hearing this case.

Explaining further, the statement said that evidence of Justice Ramesh’s subconscious bias cannot be determined and that every judge must avoid any hint of impropriety or suspicion in addition to upholding the integrity of the court.

According to the Supreme Court, the case must be re-allocated to another judge due to the disqualification of Justice Ramesh. Sources say that the case may be pushed back to sometime in April or May.

This case is in connection with a dispute between SBF and FTX, the former alleging that the latter had made false promises. The case hearing is expected to assess the claims of SBF and decide on the validity of the evidence provided.

Due to the sensitive nature of the case, both SBF and FTX have withdrawn their lawyers from the case to ensure a fair outcome.

The disqualification of Justice Ramesh has sparked discussions on the relationship between judges and lawyers. It has raised questions on the current code of conduct and the extent of ethical guidelines that need to be in place to ensure that the justice system works according to the highest standards.

Although the discussions remain ongoing, what is clear is that Justice Ramesh’s disqualification ensures that the hearing of this case will remain impartial and unaffected by any potential conflicts of interest.

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