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High Court releases names of 6 trainee lawyers who cheated at Bar exam

SINGAPORE — A High Court judge has revealed the names of six trainee lawyers who had cheated during the Bar exams, saying it is better for them "to face the publicity than to hide from it”. This was after the judge previously redacted their names from his written judgement.

Justice Choo Han Teck released a judgement on Wednesday (April 27), where he named the trainees whose actions first came to light earlier this month.
Justice Choo Han Teck released a judgement on Wednesday (April 27), where he named the trainees whose actions first came to light earlier this month.
  • High Court judge Choo Han Teck had initially redacted six law graduates' names in his judgement on April 18
  • They were found to have cheated during Part B of the 2020 Bar exam, which were conducted remotely
  • On April 27, the judge reversed his decision, saying it was better for them "to face the publicity than to hide from it”
  • The Attorney-General objected to their admissions to the Bar
  •  

SINGAPORE — A High Court judge has revealed the names of six trainee lawyers who had cheated during the Bar exams, saying it is better for them "to face the publicity than to hide from it”. This was after the judge previously redacted their names from his written judgement.

It was one of the reasons that Justice Choo Han Teck gave in another judgement released on Wednesday (April 27), where he named the trainees whose actions first came to light earlier this month.

They are:

  • Monisha Devaraj
  • Kushal Atul Shah
  • Sreeraam Ravenderan
  • Lynn Kuek Yi Ting
  • Matthew Chow Jun Feng
  • Lionel Wong Choong Yoong

Five of the law graduates’ applications for admission to the Bar were delayed by six months, while the sixth graduate's application was delayed for a year.

Justice Choo had initially removed their names in his written judgement on April 18, saying then that this was in order not to prejudice their long-term prospects. However, he also warned that future cheats may not get off so lightly. 

In a first, the Attorney-General (AG) objected to admitting the six students to the Singapore Bar at an admission hearing because they had cheated in Part B of their Bar exams in 2020.

Five of the law students had communicated with each other and shared answers in six of the papers through WhatsApp and were made to retake the six papers.

The remaining student colluded with another examinee and cheated in three of the papers.

Following this, the Attorney-General's Chambers announced that five more trainee lawyers were caught cheating during the exams that year. They were not named.

'TREMENDOUS PUBLIC INTEREST'

On Wednesday, Justice Choo said that the resulting “tremendous public interest” in the graduates’ identities “seems to have been borne by a mix of curiosity, indignation as well as sympathy”.

The news had led to outcry among the legal community, with some saying that the adjournment of the graduates' Bar admissions hearing was a mere slap on the wrist.

Justice Choo wrote: “But strong sentiments may sometimes interfere with the proper understanding of the idea of second chances. We know that there are different kinds of people where second chances are concerned — those who believe in them and those who don't.

“And there are those who need them and those who give them. And in between, there is a vast stretch in which we can debate to no end as to who is deserving and who is not.”

The judge noted that in this instance, “redemption cannot be claimed behind the mask of anonymity, but by baring one's face and looking everyone in the eye, to see which kind of persons one confronts”.

“Facing them in this way, one develops the character of fortitude that the path forward requires. Sometimes, one might see an unforgiving face, but, I believe, more often than not, it will be a face that says, ‘Get up and try again; you can get it right’.”

He said that he had initially redacted the names to allow the graduates to go about the process of recovery quietly and uneventfully, but now thinks it is “better to face the publicity than to hide from it”.

He then allowed the AG’s application to reverse the redaction and sealing orders.

The judge also noted that the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) now has a new responsibility of helping the six law graduates, and said he was sure that many LawSoc members are also “ready to lend a hand”.

Lawyers who took the Bar exam in 2020 previously told TODAY that although the Covid-19 pandemic forced the exams to be held virtually, there were few rules in place that prevented examinees from cheating. 

The Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile) then said that it takes a serious view of the cheating cases, and that the 2020 Part B exams were conducted remotely "during a challenging time when holding exams physically was not a viable option".

The six graduates have all since retaken and passed the required exams but will have to wait until the adjournment is over before their applications are heard again. 

They will be called to the Bar only when their applications are accepted by the AG, Sile and LawSoc, and after filing an affidavit proving that they are fit to be a practising lawyer.

LawSoc said that it does not have the authority to penalise trainees, because they fall outside the scope of its statutory powers.

Related topics

lawyers court cheating Bar exam judge Attorney-General LawSoc

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