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Decision on CLP should be after consultation
Published on: Sunday, January 08, 2017

By Legal mind
THE recent amendments to the registration for the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) should be put up for debate and input from all affected parties should be considered.

As of Dec 8, all candidates are now limited to four attempts at the examination under one registration which is valid for only four years, as opposed to the previous rule which allowed eight attempts divided equally between two registrations. This applies to both prospective and current candidates.

Have the decision-makers consulted all parties such as the tutors, students and lawyers to determine the best course of action? Multiple studies and surveys should be made before the Legal Profession Quali­fying Board makes any decision.

In an attempt to obtain data, I visited every official channel available on the Internet.

However, the statistics were only updated up to 2012 and these were already showing a downward trend in the CLP passing rate, dropping from 52.43pc in 2011 to 40.81pc in 2012.

Those who have the pertinent and latest information should have properly analysed it before coming to a decision and, if possible, also made those findings public so that those aggrieved could, at the very least, have some closure on the matter.

Rather than make an amendment to restrict the number of times one can sit for the CLP, it would be better in the long term if we analyse the statistics, determine the root cause leading to the increasing failure rate and create solutions. Imagine joining a competition upon being briefed on a certain set of rules only to be told halfway that the rules have changed.

Surely those affected have the right to appeal the decision. However, no mention of an appeal was made in the announcement on Dec 21. Unlike the fiasco many years ago, where candidates were asking the courts to pass them, these candidates are merely asking for the opportunity to sit for the examination again.

There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when we speak of a student’s failure.

I fully agree with views that the policy change is too abrupt. No right-minded candidate wants to fail an exam and put all the hard work and money he or she invested to waste.

I also strongly believe that the number of attempts a student takes to pass the examination does not necessarily correlate to their competence.

Should a candidate who gained a first class result on their seventh attempt be deemed less competent than another who limped his or her way to a third class result on a resit on their first attempt?

Haven’t we seen the success stories of people who needed to go through multiple failures before finding their place in their respective world? Sidney Poitier, after his first audition, was told by his casting director: “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?” Poitier proved him wrong and went on to win an Oscar and become one of the most well-regarded actors in the business.

Even one of our greatest lawyers, the late Karpal Singh, said in an interview that he took seven years to graduate.

Yes, sometimes students need to be told the hard truth, that maybe they are not good enough.

However, the all-important decision on whether they should continue pursuing their goals should be theirs alone to make. This can still be reconciled with the new amendments, as long as students who have exhausted all four attempts are allowed to appeal to the board to be allowed to register for the examinations.

The affected law graduates are a pool of young aspiring Malaysian lawyers who, for multiple valid reasons, have not been able to pass the CLP in their fourth attempt. This abrupt amendment leaves them with no opportunity to qualify and practise in Malaysia.

I hope the board will not deprive them of this opportunity but allow appeals by the affected candidates to redeem themselves in the upcoming examinations.

Legal mind

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