Certificate in Legal Practice (Malaysia)
The Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) is a course and examination taken by foreign law graduates and graduates of Bachelor of Jurisprudence (Hons)/B.Juris (Hons) from University of Malaya and Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons)/BLS (Hons) from Universiti Teknologi MARA, in order to become a qualified lawyer in Malaysia.
The examination is conducted by the Legal Profession Qualifying Board of Malaysia and is governed by the Legal Profession Act 1976. The Board allows degree holders from shortlisted universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to sit for the examination.
Like all law graduates, CLP graduates must proceed to read in chambers or better known as chambering, which is a form of apprenticeship similar to a pupillage in England. After completing nine (9) months of chambering, the student may finally be called to the bar and become a qualified lawyer.
The Certificate in Legal Practice was originally designed in 1984 only as a temporary stop-gap measure to assist those Malaysians who were not able to sit for the English Bar Finals Examinations because they failed to obtain at least a Second Class (Lower Division) Honours in their British university law degree. It was then a solution to those who can't apply to be a Barrister but ended up as another recognised legal qualification to be an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia.
Examinations are normally held around July each year. Every student is required to sit for five subject papers, namely, General Paper, Professional Practice, Evidence, Criminal Procedure, and Civil Procedure. The student must pass all papers in order to obtain the certificate. If a student fails one paper he or she may be given a conditional pass and be allowed to resit that subject two more times. However, if a student failed in two or more papers, he must sit for the whole examination again in order to obtain the certificate. A student is allowed to sit for the examination four times.
The Legal Profession Qualifying Board only sets the examination and does not provide classes to prepare the candidate for the examination. Classes were initially conducted by the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya and later Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA but the task was subsequently delegated to private colleges only. Three of the major institutions that offer tuition for the CLP in Kuala Lumpur are Advance Tertiary College (formerly Kemayan ATC), HELP University and Brickfields Asia College. ATC also offers the course in its Penang Campus.
Criticism and Controversies
The examination is notorious in that it has a very low passing rate of between 10% to 20% each year.
The CLP board has pointed out, among other things, in an article published in The Star in 24 September 2008 as well as in its CLP Subject Guide 2008 issued to candidates, that “The examination is not a test of memory function by the candidates. It is the candidates who resort to regurgitation of information memorized by them”.
The Professional Practice paper, for example, covers of Land Law, Probate and Administration of Estates, Bankruptcy and Winding Up, Ethics of the Legal Profession, and Advocacy. Any person familiar with legal education would understand that Land Law is among the bulkiest subject. Students were denied access to the many relevant Statutes (Acts of Parliaments) during the exams, such as the Bankruptcy Act 1967, Companies Act 1965, Winding Up Rules 1997, Probate and Administration Act 1959, Legal Profession Act 1976, Legal Profession (Practice & Etiquette) Rules 1978, Legal Profession (Publicity) Rules, and many more.
- "A Guideline and the Application Form to sit for the Examination for the Certificate of Legal Practice", Legal Profession Qualifying Board, Malaysia