Assoc Prof Tan Kheng Boon Eugene, Nominated Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Law (a) whether any persons have been denied admission to the Singapore Bar for misconduct or ethical breaches committed during their undergraduate law studies locally or overseas; and (b) whether there is a mechanism in place for our law schools to inform the relevant parties of persons who may not be suitable for admission to the Singapore Bar due to misconduct or gross ethical breaches during their undergraduate law studies.
Under the Legal Profession Act, an applicant cannot be admitted as an advocate or solicitor if he or she is not of good character. When applying for admission, the applicant has to affirm or swear by way of affidavit, facts that affect his suitability to practise as an advocate and solicitor. This includes any misconduct or ethical breaches. Additionally, the applicant must also exhibit in his affidavit a certificate of diligence from a Singapore law practice from which he received supervised training. The Singapore law practice cannot issue this certificate of diligence if it knows of any misconduct or ethical breaches that affect the applicant’s suitability for admission as an advocate and solicitor. The admission criteria do not distinguish between misconduct or ethical breaches which take place during or outside the course of an applicant’s undergraduate law studies.
The affidavit which the applicant affirms or swears by must be served on the Attorney-General, the Law Society and the Singapore Institute of Legal Education. They may file a notice of objection against the applicant should they determine that he is not of good character. Similarly, members of the public including law schools, who may have knowledge of facts that have a bearing on the applicant’s unsuitability to practice, may also file a notice of objection within 30 days of the application for admission.
The agencies concerned do not keep records on the number of persons who were refused admission to the Bar on account of previous misconduct or ethical breaches.