SINGAPORE - Six aspiring lawyers who cheated in the 2020 Bar exam were allowed on Monday (Aug 15) to withdraw their applications to be called to the Bar.
The six are Ms Monisha Devaraj, Mr Kushal Atul Shah, Mr Sreeraam Ravenderan, Ms Lynn Kuek Yi Ting, Mr Matthew Chow Jun Feng and Mr Lionel Wong Choong Yoong.
In April, they had appeared before High Court judge Choo Han Teck to be admitted to the Bar.
Then, the judge had adjourned their admission applications by six months to a year, after the Attorney-General said the six were not fit and proper persons to be admitted to the Bar because they had cheated in the exam.
On Monday, the six appeared before Justice Choo again, represented by their respective counsel.
This time, they asked the court for leave, or permission, to withdraw their Bar admission applications.
The six are among 11 candidates caught cheating in Part B of the Bar exam which was held online at the end of 2020. All had to retake the exam in the following year.
Another candidate, Mr Leon Tay Quan Li, was the first of the 11 to seek a withdrawal.
In May, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon allowed Mr Tay to withdraw his application to be called to the Bar, on condition that he was not to bring a fresh application for at least five years.
The Chief Justice also required Mr Tay to give his word that, when he brings a fresh application, he would have to satisfy any requirements by the Attorney-General, Law Society, Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile) or the court as to his fitness for admission.
On Monday, CJ Menon’s decision was cited by the lawyers representing the six law graduates, the Attorney-General and the Law Society.
Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, who acts for three of them, said they have realised that the six-month adjournment period will not be sufficient for them to show that they are fit and proper to be admitted as lawyers.
Mr Sreenivasan said his clients will not make any new application without “deep and considered reflection”.
The other lawyers echoed his sentiments.
Mr Low Chai Chong, who acts for Mr Chow, said his client accepts that the period from now till November is too short for him to be able to redeem himself.
There were no objections to the withdrawals.
Justice Choo granted permission to all six to withdraw their applications, saying that they were free to apply again.
While the judge did not impose specific conditions, he suggested that they find work as paralegals or in similar endeavours, so that a respected mentor can attest to their suitability to be lawyers.
Ms Monisha, Mr Shah, Mr Sreeraam, Mr Chow and Mr Wong had shared answers in six papers through WhatsApp.
They admitted their conduct as soon as the Sile, which conducts the exam and the course leading to the exam, began its inquiry.
Ms Kuek denied cheating but the institute rejected her explanation and found that she had colluded with Mr Tay and cheated in three papers.
Ms Kuek and Mr Tay had explained that they had similar answers because they studied together and shared study notes. But the Sile said their answers in three papers contained the same pattern and errors.