Panel to study proposal to replace CLP with common Bar course, says Liew

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong.

PETALING JAYA: De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong will be establishing a committee on the possibility of replacing the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) examination with a Common Bar Course (CBC).

The Bar Council, he added, has come up with a proposal on this.

This comes eight months after Liew said the government is considering the possibility of replacing the CLP due to concerns raised by both local and foreign law students.

A review had also been conducted by the previous administration on the matter.

Liew said the committee will comprise representatives from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Bar Council and other relevant government bodies, together with legal academicians.

“There has been some resistance on the part of the academicians towards this proposal,” Liew told FMT.

“Hence, we need to engage with the relevant stakeholders.”

The CLP is a course for graduates from shortlisted law schools in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and some local institutions — although anyone can register for it, law student or not.

Those who sit for the CLP take five papers — General Paper, Professional Practice, Evidence, Criminal Procedure and Civil Procedure.

Law students must pass them before being able to do chambering and be called to the Malaysian Bar.

Over the years, lawyers have been pushing for the government to introduce a CBC for all local and foreign graduates who intend to practise law.

Alternatively, they said, if the government was not ready for the course, it should not limit law students taking the CLP exam to only four attempts, as is the current practice.

Former Malaysian Bar president George Varughese previously said the CLP does not adequately provide the “necessary knowledge and practice skills” for law graduates seeking to practise here.

He had said it had always been the position of the Bar to not primarily focus on examinations if the CBC sees the light of day.

Instead, the CBC, if introduced, must be outcome-driven and focused on the development of critical skills.

These would include skills related to advocacy, legal procedures in civil and criminal matters, arbitration and mediation, negotiations, and managing day-to-day operations of a law firm.

The CLP was originally designed in 1984 as a temporary stop-gap measure to assist those Malaysians who were not able to sit for the English Bar final examination.

It was considered a solution to those who could not apply to be a barrister but ended up as another recognised legal qualification to be an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia.