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Exam cheat withdraws application to be called to the Bar, apologises for 'inexcusable misconduct'

SINGAPORE — One of the 11 trainee lawyers who was caught cheating in the 2020 Bar examinations has written a letter of apology for his “inexcusable misconduct”, while his lawyer took to LinkedIn to say that her client may have made a mistake but “there is good in him”.

Mr Leon Tay Quan Li, 26, said that he withdrew his application to be called to the Bar, with conditions to be set by the court as it deems appropriate for his case.
Mr Leon Tay Quan Li, 26, said that he withdrew his application to be called to the Bar, with conditions to be set by the court as it deems appropriate for his case.
  • Mr Leon Tay Quan Li, 26, had colluded with another candidate Lynn Kuek Yi Ting to cheat during a Bar examination
  • Mr Tay was allowed to withdraw his application to be called to the Bar after he agreed to two conditions set by the court
  • In his apology, Mr Tay said he is aware that his actions were “truly reprehensible”
  • His lawyer described him as highly intelligent and said he was in ill health when he cheated

SINGAPORE — One of the 11 trainee lawyers who was caught cheating in the 2020 Bar examinations has written a letter of apology for his “inexcusable misconduct”, while his lawyer took to LinkedIn to say that her client may have made a mistake but “there is good in him”, and that he had been in ill health when he cheated.

Mr Leon Tay Quan Li, 26, was found to have colluded with another candidate, Ms Lynn Kuek Yi Ting, to cheat in Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations 2020.

The Straits Times reported that on Wednesday (May 11), Mr Tay, who was represented in court by Ms Luo Ling Ling, was allowed to withdraw his application to be called to the Bar, in a hearing before Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, after he agreed to two conditions set by the court.

Law trainees have to be admitted to the Bar to become practising lawyers.

Firstly, Mr Tay gave an undertaking not to bring a fresh application for admission to the Bar in Singapore or in any other jurisdiction for at least five years.

Secondly, he gave his word that, if and when he brings a fresh application, he would have to fulfil any requirements by the Attorney-General, Law Society of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Legal Education or the court as to his fitness for admission.

In his apology on Wednesday, Mr Tay said he is aware that his actions were “truly reprehensible” and represented a severe lapse in judgement on his part.

“Having applied for admission in an honourable profession where honesty and integrity is paramount, I understand that my actions have tarnished public confidence in the administration of justice and the legal system as a whole,” he added.

Mr Tay also apologised to all members of the legal fraternity, fellow candidates who took the Bar exam that year and all members of the public, saying that he was “deeply remorseful” for his mistakes and that he had disappointed his parents, who he said were shocked by his actions.  

“I know that I am presently not fit and proper to be admitted to the Bar. As such, I applied to withdraw my application, with conditions to be set by the court as it deems appropriate for my case. I will reflect on my actions, and perform more volunteering and pro bono work to give back to the community as a whole in the near future,” Mr Tay wrote.

Ms Luo in her LinkedIn post described Mr Tay as a “smart boy who made a mistake”.

She said that during the first Bar examinations, Mr Tay was in ill health and his parents had serious health issues. 

She added that Mr Tay is the only one out of the 11 trainees caught for cheating who has applied to withdraw his admission application to her knowledge, noting that he has since recognised that he is “not good enough” to be a lawyer.

She added that in the second Bar examinations, Mr Tay did well and scored a distinction.

“It was not as though he needed to cheat to pass these exams. It is not that weaker students have any justification to cheat. There is no justification to cheat for anyone.

"It was already shocking enough for law students to cheat, but even more unbelievable if these were top law students,” Ms Luo wrote. 

She said that Mr Tay took an active role in his own case, drafting two affidavits in a short span of a few days, which she amended.

She also described herself as “very demanding” in the process but said that Mr Tay took it in his stride.

“Whatever I taught him, he learnt fast. It was clear to me that he has a gift for the law. I could not understand why someone so intelligent could have cheated in exams," she wrote.

“Unfortunately, he has been so traumatised that he decided to leave practice before he even started.

"He is leaving to learn to be better before he returns — if he ever does — because he recognises his mistakes. It would be a tremendous waste if he did not come back."

Related topics

lawyers cheating Bar exam chief justice court

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