The government must introduce the Common Bar course without delay for all local and foreign graduates who intend to practice law.
Lawyer S Ramesh said alternatively, if the government was not ready for the course, it should not limit law students to pass their Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) examination within four sittings.
“All law students must go through the course so that quality lawyers are in the legal profession,” he told FMT.
Ramesh said this in response to the Legal Profession Qualifying Board, that had ruled last month that students would be limited to a four-year period to complete their CLP.
On Dec 21, the board said it had amended the rules from the previous unlimited number of sittings.
Ramesh said in Malaysia, local universities annually produced about 1,300 law graduates while another 200 come into the profession after passing the CLP.
Most local graduates are exempted from sitting for the CLP.
Ramesh said in the United Kingdom, only about 250 law graduates were produced yearly after passing the Common Bar Course.
“Here we have a disparity in the quality of graduates coming from local universities and those entering the legal profession after passing the CLP,” said the lawyer who has been in practice for 20 years.
He said it was a form of discrimination to limit CLP students to pass their exam within four sittings.
“Many repeat the exam because the board does not hold courses nor does it hold seminars to point out the expectations of examiners,” he said.
The board only sets the CLP syllabus but the course is conducted by private colleges.
Last month Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran said the four-year limit would deny candidates from poor financial backgrounds entry into the legal profession.
He said the sole purpose the CLP was established was to allow students who could not afford to sit for their Bar in the United Kingdom to do it locally.
Meanwhile, Bar Council chairman Steven Thiru who spoke at the recent opening of the legal year revealed that the board would be convening an important stakeholder consultation on Feb 17 with a view to introduce the Common Bar Course.
Thiru is also a member of the board that is chaired by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali.
He said the Bar Council had first mooted the Common Bar Course as a replacement for the CLP in the 80s.
Apandi has yet to respond to a FMT query as to why the board decided to limit CLP sittings to four times.
Source : V Anbalagan @ FMT Online