—(1) Subject to subsections (2), (3) and (4), an Inquiry Committee shall, within two weeks of its appointment, commence its inquiry into any complaint or information touching upon the conduct of an advocate and solicitor and report its findings to the Council —
in any case where the members of the Inquiry Committee have decided not to call upon the advocate and solicitor concerned to offer any explanation or to answer the allegations made against him, not later than two months after the date of its appointment; and
in any other case, not later than two weeks after the last meeting of the Inquiry Committee or 3 months after the date of its appointment, whichever is earlier.
(2) Where an Inquiry Committee is of the opinion that it will not be able to report its findings to the Council within the period specified in subsection (1)(b) due to the complexity of the matter or serious difficulties encountered by the Inquiry Committee in conducting its inquiry, the Inquiry Committee may apply in writing to the Chairman of the Inquiry Panel for an extension of the time to report its findings to the Council.
(3) The Chairman of the Inquiry Panel may grant an extension of time to an Inquiry Committee to report its findings to the Council if he is satisfied that the circumstances of the case justify the grant of an extension of time except that any extension of time granted shall not extend beyond the period of 6 months from the date of the appointment of that Inquiry Committee.
(4) No application for an extension of time may be made to the Chairman of the Inquiry Panel under subsection (2) on the expiry of two months after the date of the appointment of the Inquiry Committee.
(5) Where an Inquiry Committee is satisfied that there are no grounds for disciplinary action under this Part, it shall report to the Council accordingly and state the reasons for its decision.
(6) Where an Inquiry Committee is of the opinion that an advocate and solicitor should be called upon to answer any allegation made against him, the Inquiry Committee shall post or deliver to the advocate and solicitor concerned —
copies of any complaint or information touching upon his conduct and of any statutory declarations or affidavits that have been made in support of the complaint or information; and
a notice inviting him to give within such period (not being less than 14 days) as may be specified in the notice to the Inquiry Committee any written explanation he may wish to offer and to advise the Inquiry Committee if he wishes to be heard by the Committee,
and allow the time specified in the notice to elapse and shall give the advocate and solicitor concerned reasonable opportunity to be heard if he so desires and shall also give due consideration to any explanation (if any) given by him.
(7) The report of the Inquiry Committee shall, inter alia, deal with the question of the necessity or otherwise of a formal investigation by a Disciplinary Committee and, if in the view of the Inquiry Committee no formal investigation by a Disciplinary Committee is required, the Inquiry Committee shall recommend to the Council —
a penalty sufficient and appropriate to the misconduct committed; or
that the complaint be dismissed.
(8) Where in the course of its inquiry an Inquiry Committee receives information touching on or evidence of the conduct of the advocate and solicitor concerned which may give rise to proceedings under this Part, the Inquiry Committee may, after giving notice to him, decide on its own motion to inquire into that matter and report its findings to the Council.
(9) Where in the course of its inquiry an Inquiry Committee receives information touching on or evidence of the conduct of the advocate and solicitor concerned which discloses an offence under any written law, the Inquiry Committee shall record the information in its report to the Council.
(10) Where the complainant withdraws his complaint before the Council has referred the complaint to an Inquiry Committee or before the conclusion of the inquiry by an Inquiry Committee, the Council may, notwithstanding such withdrawal, refer the complaint to or direct an Inquiry Committee to continue the inquiry, as the case may be, and the Inquiry Committee shall comply with the direction and all future proceedings thereon shall be taken as if the complaint had been made by the Society.
(11) Subsections (2) to (6) of section 91 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, in relation to an Inquiry Committee as they apply in relation to a Disciplinary Committee and the references in those subsections to a Disciplinary Committee shall be read as references to an Inquiry Committee.
(12) For the purposes of conducting an inquiry, an Inquiry Committee may —
appoint any person to make or assist in the making of whatever preliminary inquiries it thinks necessary;
require the production for inspection by the Inquiry Committee or any person appointed by the Committee of any books, documents or papers which may relate to or be connected with the subject-matter of the inquiry and may require any person to give information in relation to such books, documents or papers; and
require the advocate and solicitor concerned to give all information in relation to any such books, documents or papers which may be reasonably required by the Inquiry Committee or by the person so employed.
(13) Any advocate and solicitor and any other person who without lawful excuse refuses or fails to produce to the Inquiry Committee or to any person whom the Committee may appoint for the purposes of an inquiry any books, documents or papers required of him as aforesaid or fails to give any such information relating thereto shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.