SEREMBAN: The Legal Profession Qualifying Board has taken all necessary measures to ensure the recognition process of the law degree from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim) in Nilai near here is conducted in accordance with the required standards, says its chairman Tan Sri Idrus Harun.
Idrus, who is also Attorney General, said the board will soon consider the full recognition of the university's Bachelor of Law and Syariah degree programme upon receiving the compliance report by a joint technical committee and after a re-evaluation visit.
"All applications for recognition of law degrees either from public or private universities shall undergo the same process and the board has never granted any exemption thus far.
"The board has a heavy responsibility to ensure every qualified person who is eligible for entry into the highly competitive and challenging field of the legal profession has the required knowledge and skill.
"Therefore, the recognition process is carried out meticulously and with stringent measures to maintain the high standards and quality of the legal profession in Malaysia," he said in a Aug 7 dated statement on the board's website.
Idrus was clarifying several concerns raised against the board pertaining to the award of full recognition of the university's Bachelor of Law and Syariah degree programme.
He said the recognition of law degrees was to enable successful candidates to be recognised as a "qualified person" within the meaning of Section 3 of the Legal Profession Act 1976 and which also exempts them from having to sit for the Certificate in Legal Practice Examination (CLPE).
Idrus said Usim's Syariah and Law Faculty first applied for the recognition of its degree programme on March 18, 2010.
However, the board did not consider the application then as the degree programme had not obtained accreditation from the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA).
Usim resubmitted its application on Dec 7, 2012, upon getting MQA's accreditation.
However, the board, upon conducting an evaluation visit was of the view that it could not yet exempt the degree holders from having to sit and pass the CLPE due to various weaknesses found in the delivery of the said programme.
"Therefore, the board decided to grant provisional recognition whereby the degree holders were required to sit and pass the CLPE for the purpose of becoming a qualified person.
"This provisional recognition was subject to conditions set by the board, among others, conducting a re-evaluation within two years from the date of the decision of the board," he said, adding that the university was informed of this through a letter dated April 24, 2015.
He said the board conducted a re-evaluation visit to Usim in March 2018 where it decided that the degree holders can be exempted from having to sit and pass the CLPE.
However, this was subject to compliance with certain conditions which included the graduates of cohort 2017 being required to undergo a Skill and Practical Training Programme for a six-month period.
They were to obtain a Certificate of Completion of the said programme on the subjects of Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Bankruptcy and Probate and Administration of Estate.
He said Usim was informed of this, and other actions had to be taken to improve the programme via a letter dated April 4, 2018.
The board at its meeting on June 26, 2019, also agreed to allow the graduates of cohort 2016 to undergo the programme and the duration was reduced from six to four months.
"The attendance is mandatory and the students are required to undergo a final assessment at the end of it.
"The board also decided an audit shall be conducted by the joint technical committee to ensure the conditions are complied with and then the Board will consider whether full recognition can be granted to the graduates," he said.
He said the programme was conducted from Aug 24, 2019, till Jan 4, 2020, and a final assessment was initially fixed for Feb 15 and 16 this year.
However, the university requested for the final assessment to be postponed to allow students who were not eligible to sit for it due to their poor attendance to appeal.
The date for the re-evaluation visit by the joint technical committee was fixed on March 25 and 26 but this had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the movement control order.
"During the board meeting on June 26 this year, it considered the appeals from 16 students who were not eligible to sit for the final assessment due to their poor attendance.
"The board allowed the appeals of six students and the others were not allowed as there were no cogent reasons for their non-attendance to the said programme," he said, adding that the board has now fixed the date for the final assessment of the Skills and Practical Training Programme and the re-evaluation visit.
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan was among those who had urged the board to give full recognition to Usim's law degree programme.
He said since the board did not fully recognise the qualification, Usim law graduates cannot act as advocates or solicitors or practise law in Malaysian courts.
To date, the university has produced more than 500 law graduates.
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