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LawSoc says it will object to admissions of Bar exam cheats found unfit to be lawyers after ‘careful review'

SINGAPORE — Stressing that "good character and integrity are fundamental traits that every lawyer must have", the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) has said it will "carefully review" the applications of the trainees found to have cheated at the Bar examinations.

News emerged this week that 11 trainee lawyers had cheated in the Part B Bar exams in 2020.
News emerged this week that 11 trainee lawyers had cheated in the Part B Bar exams in 2020.

SINGAPORE — Stressing that "good character and integrity are fundamental traits that every lawyer must have", the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) has said it will "carefully review" the applications of the trainees found to have cheated at the Bar examinations.

“If the Law Society is not satisfied that they are fit to be admitted as lawyers, we will object to their admission,” it said in a statement on Wednesday (April 20).

The statement came as news emerged this week that 11 trainee lawyers had cheated in the Part B Bar exams in 2020, which graduates have to pass in order to be qualified to practise law in Singapore.

The Bar exams are not conducted by LawSoc, but by the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile). 

Emphasising this, LawSoc said it is not in a position to address queries concerning how the cheating was detected.

It added that these 11 trainees have fallen short of the standard that is expected of a lawyer in Singapore.

“If these persons apply to be called to the Bar at the adjourned hearing, the Law Society will carefully review their applications and any evidence of steps that they have taken to address their past conduct,” LawSoc said.

On Monday, a High Court judgement revealed that six trainee lawyers had their court hearings for admissions to the Bar delayed by six months to a year because they had cheated during the Bar exams. 

The Attorney-General’s Chambers said the next day that five more applications for admissions were under consideration for cheating.

The postponement of the court hearings, however, does not mean that they will be automatically admitted to the Bar afterwards.

After the adjournment, they would have to file an affidavit showing why he or she is a “fit and proper person” to be admitted to the Bar as of the date of that affidavit. Their applications will then be heard by the Supreme Court, and the Attorney-General, LawSoc or Sile can object to the applications.

LawSoc, the representative body for all lawyers in Singapore, had told TODAY on Tuesday that it does not have the authority to penalise trainees because they fall outside the scope of its statutory powers.

Asked to comment on the decision to adjourn the court hearings by six months to a year, it said that it was inappropriate to comment on it as the case has not yet been finally decided.

LawSoc said on Wednesday that it takes very seriously its role in assessing the fitness and suitability of every person who applies for admission as an advocate and solicitor. 

“As officers of the court, lawyers are held to a high standard in their professional and personal conduct,” it said.

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