6 trainee lawyers who cheated in Bar exams withdraw applications to practise law in S'pore

The lawyer of three of the trainees said they will give "deep thought" to what they have done.

Low Jia Ying | August 16, 2022, 11:04 AM

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A High Court judge has given permission for six trainee lawyers who cheated in the Bar exams in 2020 to withdraw their applications to the Bar on Monday (Aug. 15), reported CNA.

One has to be admitted to the Bar in order to practise law in Singapore.

The six trainee lawyers, who were named in April, are Monisha Devaraj, Kushal Atul Shah, Sreeraam Ravenderan, Lynn Kuek Yi Ting, Matthew Chow Jun Feng and Lionel Wong Choong Yoong.

The six are among 11 trainee lawyers who were found to have cheated in the Bar exams in 2020.

The judge had earlier in April adjourned the Bar admission hearings for six months for five of the trainee lawyers. Kuek's hearing was adjourned for one year.

Not enough time to show that they've changed

Lawyer Sreenivasan Narayanan, who represented three of the cheats, Devaraj, Shah and Wong, said that the six-month adjournment period was not sufficient for his clients to "show that the circumstances of being a fit and proper person have changed", according to CNA.

The lawyer also said that more time was needed to address the issues raised by two judges in their earlier judgments, according to Today.

Chow's lawyer also agreed, saying that the time period was too short for his client to be able to "redeem himself", according to The Straits Times.

Narayanan also told the judge that his three clients would not only give "deep thought" to what they have done, but will also take on board the view of the Attorney-General, the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) and the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE), before making another application to the Bar in the future, according to Today.

Representatives from the Attorney-General, LawSoc and SILE told the court that they had no objections to the trainee lawyers' bids to withdraw their applications.

Seventh trainee lawyer already withdrew application to the Bar

A seventh trainee lawyer who also cheated during the exam, Leon Tay Quan Li, had withdrawn his application to the Bar on May 1, according to CNA.

Tay was also barred from bringing forth a new Bar application in Singapore or elsewhere for the next five years.

The four remaining exam cheats of the 11 will have their cases heard later this August.

Work as paralegals or other similar roles first: Judge

The judge did not pose any conditions for the six trainee lawyers to withdraw their Bar applications, according to Today.

However, he recommended that the six work as paralegals or in similar roles, so that a "respected mentor" will be able to testify to their suitability to reapply to the Bar in the future.

A paralegal may be trained in law, but does not have the authority to practise it, as compared to a lawyer.

He also did not suggest a timeframe for when the six should reapply, adding that their applications would also depend on their mentors' testimonies and their subsequent conduct, reported CNA.

Top photo via Matthias Ang