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Singapore

Six trainee lawyers who cheated in exams withdraw Bar applications

The Bar refers to legal professionals who have satisfied all the requirements for legal education and vocational training to be admitted as advocates and solicitors of the Singapore Court.

Six trainee lawyers who cheated in exams withdraw Bar applications

File photo of Singapore's Supreme Court. (Photo: A Rajandarn)

SINGAPORE: Six trainee lawyers who cheated in the 2020 Bar examinations withdrew their applications on Monday (Aug 15) to practise law in Singapore.

The six are Ms Monisha Devaraj, Mr Kushal Atul Shah, Mr Sreeraam Ravenderan, Mr Matthew Chow Jun Feng, Mr Lionel Wong Choong Yoong and Ms Lynn Kuek Yi Ting.

Five of them shared answers for six exam papers through WhatsApp, while Ms Kuek was found to have colluded with another candidate to cheat in three of the papers.

All six were given permission by a High Court judge on Monday to withdraw their Bar applications.

To practise law in Singapore, law graduates must be admitted to the Bar by passing a set of exams known as Part B. 

The Bar refers to legal professionals who have satisfied all the requirements for legal education and vocational training to be admitted as advocates and solicitors of the Singapore Court.

In April, Justice Choo Han Teck adjourned the Bar admission hearing of Ms Kuek for a year, and the hearings of the remaining five trainees for six months.

This followed a proposal from the Attorney-General that a little more time for the trainee lawyers to reflect on the error of their ways would be beneficial to them.

The Attorney-General had objected to the Bar applications of the six, taking the view that they lacked honesty and integrity as they cheated in the Part B exams.

Lawyer Sreenivasan Narayanan, who represented Ms Devaraj, Mr Shah and Mr Wong, told the court that his clients realised the six-month period was insufficient for them to "show that the circumstances of being a fit and proper person have changed".

He said they needed time to address issues raised in Justice Choo's earlier judgment, as well as the guidance given by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in another withdrawal application by a trainee lawyer who cheated, Mr Leon Tay Quan Li. 

Mr Sreenivasan told Justice Choo that the three would give "deep thought" to what they have done and consult the other stakeholders of the Bar admissions process before making any future application.

These stakeholders are the Attorney-General, the Law Society and the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE).

"There will be no half-baked attempts and any application will be made after deep and considered reflection," said Mr Sreenivasan.

Lawyers representing the three other trainees echoed Mr Sreenivasan's submissions.

Justice Choo allowed the withdrawals after representatives of the Attorney-General, Law Society and SILE did not object to them.

He said that the trainee lawyers should find work as paralegals or similar roles in the legal profession, so that "a respected mentor may testify to their suitability to reapply" to the Bar.

He did not set a time for the trainee lawyers to reapply, saying: "Although each case will be different, it will also depend on the testimony of your mentors and your subsequent conduct.

"That would be a matter for you to consider yourselves, without me having to say what the time should be."

Aside from these six trainee lawyers, five more Bar applicants were found to have cheated in the 2020 Bar exams. One of them was Mr Tay, who was allowed to withdraw his Bar application in May.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon barred Mr Tay from bringing a fresh Bar application in Singapore or any other jurisdiction for the next five years.

He also directed Mr Tay to satisfy any further requirements imposed by the Attorney-General's Chambers, Law Society and SILE if he reapplies to the Bar.

The remaining four applicants who cheated will have their cases heard by Chief Justice Menon later in August, the court heard.

Source: CNA/dv(mi)

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