I AM a septuagenarian who was cheated by my lawyer (Yes, it’s true that there are a number of “not-so-noble” scoundrels within the ranks of the noble legal profession). As a result, I had no choice but to act in person in court because I could not afford any more exorbitant legal fees on my dwindling savings.
Self-representation is generally viewed with dismay as an affront by some cranky litigant to the dignity of the courts and a waste of their precious time. My submission was given short shrift by the presiding judge in the High Court and dismissed mainly on the grounds of some procedural non-compliance with the rules of court.
On appeal to the Court of Appeal, I nervously appeared before a tribunal headed by Justice Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer. He patiently listened to my stammered oral presentation of my written submission and raised critical questions on my line of argument (which showed that he had thoroughly read and familiarised himself with the factual merits of my case and the supporting legal authorities cited).
He then unravelled the deception in the opposing counsel’s submission while overruling their strenuous objections on some inconsequential technical irregularities of procedure.
As a conscientious judge, he gave life and meaning to the words “The court shall have regard to the overriding interest of justice and not only to the technical non-compliance of the rules” (Order 1A, Rules of Court 2012).
God bless Hamid Sultan – a true “people’s judge”, in these troubled times of erosion of public confidence in and widely-held scepticism of the judiciary.