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'Adequate safeguards' in place for remote Bar exams, says administering body after law trainees caught cheating

'Adequate safeguards' in place for remote Bar exams, says administering body after law trainees caught cheating

A file photo showing a person typing on a laptop. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE) said there were "adequate safeguards" for the Bar exams in 2020 that were held remotely and for which 11 trainee lawyers were later found to have cheated in.

Responding to CNA's queries on Wednesday (Apr 20), SILE - the body that administers the Bar exams - said it "takes an extremely serious view of the cases of cheating" in the 2020 Part B exams, which graduates have to pass as a requirement to practise law in Singapore.

On Monday, six trainee lawyers had their admission to the legal profession delayed for at least six months after the Attorney-General objected to their Bar applications due to the cheating. 

A day later, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) revealed that the applications of five more trainee lawyers were under consideration after they too were caught cheating in the same exams in 2020. 

The 2020 Part B were conducted remotely during a "challenging time" when holding examinations physically was not a viable option, said SILE. 

"The Institute had adequate safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of the remote examination process," it added.

"Unfortunately, there were a number of cases where candidates were found to have cheated."

SILE said that it had taken disciplinary action against those candidates in accordance with its rules. It had also imposed a requirement on the candidates to disclose the disciplinary actions taken against them during their admission proceedings.

This was so that other stakeholders in the process, namely the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc), can properly consider whether they were "fit to be admitted as lawyers".

All three bodies - AGC, LawSoc and SILE - must not object to an application in order for a lawyer to be admitted to the Bar.

LawSoc said on Wednesday that it will "carefully review" the Bar applications of the 11 trainee lawyers if they apply to be admitted into the legal profession again, as well as look at "any evidence of steps" they took to address their past conduct. 

"If the Law Society is not satisfied that they are fit to be admitted as lawyers, we will object to their admission," it said. 

SILE said remote examination technology has been "evolving swiftly". It also gave examples of current control mechanisms such as remote proctoring to prevent breaches in advance and computer-assisted checks for plagiarism and collusion. 

"The Institute will adapt and adopt technology improvements in line with practices of similar organisations as and when they become available."

SILE added that it will continue to take a "holistic approach" in reviewing and managing the risks and challenges inherent in conducting high-stakes assessments such as the Bar exams. 

Source: CNA/lk(ac)

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