Exam for lawyers seeking reinstatement?

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon raised the question of whether disbarred lawyers seeking to be reinstated should be made to take an examination at a Court of Three Judges hearing into 57-year-old Dhanwant Singh’s bid to be reinstated.

Both the Law Society and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) did not oppose Mr Singh’s application. Mr Singh was represented by Mr Lim Seng Siew who informed the Court that a long enough period had lapsed since Mr Singh’s disbarment, during which he has shown he has been fully rehabilitated.

Although the court approved the application subject to certain conditions and that he promises to continue his legal education, Chief Justice Menon noted that the same conditions had been raised in the recent case of another lawyer Narindar Singh Kang, who had sought to be reinstated.

Flagging the issue to the Law Society and the AGC, the CJ said that in future cases, the court would like to hear their views on whether the time had come for the profession to move towards a formal requalification process for lawyers seeking reinstatement.

He wondered whether a disbarred lawyer, even after convincing the court that he was suitable to practise again, should be made to go through a formal assessment, such as an oral exam.