November 21, 2009 | by MauritiusNews
Only one candidate out of the 56 who sat for their Bar exams, passed

Year in year out, students are failing those exams notorious for being tough. To circumvent this problem, students take the exams in the UK, which they easily pass in exchange for the handsome sum of Rs 1million.
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“ THIS is a scandal !” thunders a Supreme Court ( SC) judge. He is so angry that he feels he has to let go of the obligation of discretion that binds judges. Many, many voices from the judiciary and the bar have echoed this SC judge’s indignation these past weeks when Bar examination results were published – only three candidates out of the 87 who took part, passed the Bar exams; one lawyer ( out of 56 candidates who took part in those particular examinations), one solicitor ( out of 26) and one notary ( out of five).

The Bar exams in Mauritius have always had the reputation of being very difficult to pass. One university professor, who teaches law year in and year out at the University of Mauritius, has sat for those exams on four different occasions. He has failed all four attempts. Several wellknown barristers and magistrates ( who have declined to comment on the record as they consider the issue a delicate one) have had to sit for those exams on more than one occasion, in order to get through them.

From Rs 1 million to Rs 40,000

This is why most law students – if their parents have the means – will choose to do their Bar in the United Kingdom at one of the four inns of court in London. To do this, however, one needs to have Rs 1 million to spare. For those less fortunate students, the Bar School in Mauritius is available. The fees, which were Rs 25,000 for a long time, have now been revised to Rs 40,000.

According to people in the know, the students who take part in the Bar exams set by the Council of Legal Education ( CLE), are known as “ CPE wallahs”, that is, students who passed their CPE exams as if it was a walk in the park ( as opposed of course, to those who find those exams rather more like torture than anything else). Those intellectually fortunate children will then surf easily through even rougher waters until some of them choose to become lawyers.

The first impediment will be law school. But they will quickly enough adapt to their new environment as well as to the curricular. Then comes Bar School. And this will be one of the most strenuous challenges that will ever come their way. If they take the exams in Mauritius, that is.

The SC judge mentioned above used to teach at the CLE until the new chairman, Justice Paul Lam Shang Leen, decided in 2008 to ban judges from teaching prospective lawyers. Since then, according to the same source, courses have been imparted by less experienced members of the State Law Office and “ courses are rather theoretical whereas the questions in the examination papers tend to be more practical oriented ”. The Bar is in fact meant to be a practical course – to prepare students who have spent the last three years in lecture theatres at universities to not just learn about law but also to practise it.

Not prepared to face the local courts of law

It serves yet another purpose, however. The Mauritian Legal System is peculiar in the sense that it is a mixture of the English and French systems. Our criminal law, for instance, is inspired from the French penal code but the procedure used as well as the law of evidence is English. The company law is English but the “ Droit de Société” which is equally used is… French. The pleas are made in English but questions are asked in French and Creole.

This would logically mean that all students who did their LLB abroad would have to go through the Bar School in Mauritius. Imagine that! At this rate, there would be a shortage of lawyers in the country. In any event, this rule was changed in 1996 – for political reasons, some say – and since then students who studied in the UK had the option of sitting for their bar exams there itself even if that meant – according to some lawyers that they were not prepared at all to face the courts of law in Mauritius.

The irony is that those who pay Rs 1 million for their Bar, all end up passing those exams whereas in Mauritius less and less candidates are getting through the bar exams. This figure even includes students who have read law at French universities and have had top grades at their final exams.

The SC judge as well as numerous barristers and university professors we have spoken to, are all of the opinion that the extremely low percentage of passes at the Bar exams have nothing to do with the quality of the students but more with a malfunction within the Council of Legal Education, set up in the early eighties by Government and spearheaded by former Justice Rajsoomer Lallah.

We have not been able to speak to either Chief Justice Bernard Sik Yuen, who is out of the country, and who appointed the Chairman of the CLE, Paul Lam Shan Leen, nor to the latter.

Deepa Bookhun

Comments

  1. ben says:

    what a judgemental article written by Deepa who is neither a trained lawyer nor a legal expert!!! When I first read the same article on l’express, i could only conclude that Deepa is being judgemental here and is not pursuing a course of positive journalism based on facts.. Is she suggesting that law graduates who are wealthy can come to the UK to buy the BVC ( the Bar vocational course) which will be named the BPTC ( the Bar Professional Training Course) in Auntumn 2010? The facts are that around 3200 candidates applied the year 2009-01 for 1200 places, all the candidates have a minimum second class degree ( QLD – Qualifying law degree) or non-law graduates in addition must possess the GDL ( a law conversion course) and nationals whose mother tongue is not English must hold the IELTS level 7.5 score. The BVC is an intensive and highly professional course which is constantly being reviewed by the UK Bar Council, the Bar Standards Board, the four inns and by senior practitioners.. To come to a conclusion that the BVC in the United Kingdom is easier to pass compared to the Mauritian equivalent is very much out of context.. the pass rate in the UK is roughly around 75- 80% across the various different providers, ( 11 IN TOTAL). Deepa also also commented barristers at law called to the Bar of England and Wales are not equipped to face Mauritians Courts??? Come on, what a joke!! all the best lawyers and judges of mauritius were trained in the uk including the current PM as well as the President of Mauritius who were called to the Bar in England without forgetting the Chief Justice of Mauritius who was trained here… Besides, the highest court of Appeal for both Civil and Criminal cases , is the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council as prescribed by specific sections in the Mauritius Constitution!!!
    It is a disgrace for someone to under estimate British legal education known to the rest of world and the commonwealth as being excellent. It is true the BVC is an expensive course but it is mainly dispensed by high profiled legal practitioners who need to earn a decent salary .. Perhaps the low pass rate in mauritius is due to fact that lecturers are not well trained to teach or there are other reasons why candidates are failing?? I don’t want to be rude but the United Kingdom is a country of G7 , a member of the European Union and a superpower in terms of its military capability and also an economic super power, therefore I would only say that I am proud to live here , a liberal country where there is the rule of law…

    1. Ryan says:

      From the sound of it, you have been trained in the UK and getting a little bit on the defensive. It is not a judgemental article, it is the truth.

      The BVC in the UK is more “humane” and realistic (same in Australia for e.g) and the fact that most Mtian Lawyers trained in the UK pass their courses, means that we Mtians are a bunch of smart fellows :)

      And lastly, if you are trained and have been admitted in the UK, realistically you would not be too familiar (at first) with the mix that the Mtian Legal system is made up of (french law ( which is particularly annoying and hard)). [ Whereas you would get this knowledge if you did your LLB at UoM and later on when you do your Bar Exams in Mtius]

      So no need to get angry :) Leave that for those who do their law degree at UoM .. and cannot get thru the Mtian Bar exams :p

    2. Nasr says:

      Oh dude- i thnk that you are living in wonderland..
      You really need a brush;
      Go and read your common law and ‘reasoning’ + your public law.
      N.b the privy stuff you are so proud of is made up is rather a matter of shame- excluding some persons?

      Do you really even know what is the commonwealth before uttering ‘i-dont-where-do-you-get-those-enormities’.
      And last but not the ‘worst’ – the rule of law is NOTHING.

      You need to help dude.

  2. Kervin says:

    @Ben haha. Knowing Mauritius I can deduce that there are other reasons behind this too, what you are saying is hard to believe. As you proclaimed that we need to have a trained lawyer or a legal expert to have the right to comment on this issue and we have to accept whatever you are saying, I would say no more.

    Cheers! Long live Mauritius!

  3. ben says:

    haha. u make me laugh @ kervin.. i did not mention that one should be a trained lawyer or legal expert to comment on the Bar education but Deepa in her article claimed that the UK Bar training is easy to pass if one can afford to pay 1million mru… she should have done some research before writing crap…
    anyway , long live the banana republic of mauritius, the paradise of the third world, lol!!!

    1. Nasr says:

      I think you really need help? =/.

      Don’t you know that your country had made of education something as of a ‘ATM-machine’.
      You just have to put your money, and pooof- theres your degree.
      Go and document yourself dude.

      And you’ve got a fourth world-dump psyche. ;).

      1. Calimero says:

        good man Nasr,
        they just take the pleasure of writing, and they think that we can buy
        places and our ‘carte profesionnel’,its as hard to take Bar in England, as it is in Mauritius. i think she thought that she was taking sides of those who fail the bar system here, law students don’t need your pity Mrs.Deepa.
        Go and write agaisnt The Council
        of Legal Education here.Why can’t you.And don’t come with statistics and pity.

    2. kim says:

      Bastard

    3. kim says:

      “Bastard” was for ben btw. for watever he said about Mauritius

  4. I bookmarked this blog before and just found it again … well put and I will definately be forwarding this once I get to my work PC …

  5. Yusuf Bocus says:

    Dear Ms. Bookhun,

    Your critical appreciation of the national and the overseas law training programme (which gives eligibility to a law student to join the Mauritian Bar to practice as Barrister) reflects the reality in Mauritius but also suggests a biased analysis. Behind the innocent words lies a direct attack to those students who have done, who are actually undertaking, and will be undertaking the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) in the UK with a view to practice as Barrister in Mauritius. [ No need to mention Solicitors or Notaries since for these professions, there is no overseas course which is recognised by the Bar Council in Mauritius].
    You should be aware that to be eligible for a seat on the BPTC, one should meet a number of pre -defined requirements as stated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) in the UK. Mr Ben has made synopsis of same above. Furthermore, one should be admitted to an Inn of Court prior to commencement of the BPTC, otherwise he /she would not be able to attend the course at all.
    There is a general view, which you seem to acknowledge, that law students doing their BPTC in UK can get their Bar admittance easily; like we say in creole ‘Dilo Disik’. Please note that all depends on Luck to get a seat on the BPTC. There is no automatic entry for international students on the BPTC even though they have done their undergraduate degree in the UK itself. True it is that one needs ,as you well mention, a minimum of Rs 1 million to do the BPTC. You should be aware that not all Mauritian students in the UK come from rich families. There is a majority of those whose parents are making tremendous effort to offer foreign education to their children. Please respect these hard working parents in their endeavour to educate the future generation. You should also be aware that it is no easy task to complete the BPTC course which requires much effort, time, and sacrifice on the part of the student.
    The Bar course is one which is ‘ultra strict’ with huge amount of work and substansive analysis required for the purpose of the course. Students are required to be in class on time; even if you are one minute late, you are thrown out of the class. BSB monitors closely the attendance of students. Any wrong doing on the part of a BPTC student may result in warnings and even be evicted from the Bar course altogether. Despite the ‘one million expenditure’, there is no leniency on part of both universities and the BSB.
    Notwithstanding the pressure and stress imposed on students, they spend sleepless nights in order to be able to deliver the workload expected from them at University. Lecturers and Tutors expect students to stand on their own feet; they are not spoon-fed as one would tend to believe. Students have to forego most of their personal pleasures – watching movies, chatting, going out, socialising, family gathering, travelling, etc..- and devote themselves solely to their studies. It is only after an academic year of very hard work that one will be able to hopefully pass his/her exams and finally be admitted to an Inn of Court and be able to do their pupillage in Mauritius and practice at the Bar in Mauritius.

    As a journalist, you have a duty towards your readers to bring real facts and not bring out misperceptions. You ought to ensure that you are made well aware of facts before bringing it to the public, more so for not being of a long-standing legal background. The misperception that ‘UK Bar Graduates’ get their certificate easily should be clarified once and for all. Everyone respects the Mauritian Bar Council for its set- out minimum requirements for its Bar Course. The rationale of ‘40,000:1,000,000’ is one of choice. We live in a democratic country. Everyone has a freedom of choice. So, live and let live. Don’t spread mud on overseas graduates since they have and are still putting much effort and striving hard to become Barristers.
    Let’s praise our citizens who are eager to come back to their country and offer their foreign exposure to the country. Who will benefit from it?? Obviously the nation as a whole. Let’s not point our finger on these overseas graduates and put a tag on them .
    Let’s welcome and encourage them for a better Mauritius in the future!!

    Thank you.
    Yours, Faithfully,
    Y.Bocus.

  6. Ben says:

    Thank you my learned friend Y. Bocus for mentioning how intensive and professional the BVC/BPTC is.. you have given a true picture of the hard life and sacrifices made BVC/BPTC students or trainees while studying for this intensive course which is infact harder than an LLM.

  7. Yusuf Bocus says:

    You welcomed Mr Ben.
    You are right, LLM is much more easier.

  8. gift ideas groomsmen says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some research about that. We got a good book on that matter from our local library and most books where not as influensive as your information. I am very glad to see such information which I was searching for a long time.

  9. sarah says:

    deepa bookhun has a short memory!did she forget the time when she studied in the uk and failed her exams? Did she forget that she was given the job at lexpress because of the political influence of her father?

  10. Faizal says:

    Wht in fact we must resume from all these is tht if u wrk hard for ur BVC in u.k ur bound to succeed..whilst here ur 99% sure ur hard work wouldn’t !!

  11. Rajeev singh says:

    Deepa is biased. She went to read fr a law degree in England but cldn’t complete because of the macarena life style…

  12. Maskrade says:

    @Sarah and Rajeev Singh
    Please keep it clean and professional, no personal jibes at the journalist is necessary here.
    However, I do agree with the majority of the comments here and thanks to Yusuf for explaining quite rightly the struggles of the bar course in the UK. I did detect some bitterness on the part of the writer in the main article and would opine that this was not written objectively.
    I certainly did pick up on the fact that you, Deepa, are suggesting that education can be bought in the UK, i.e. exams which students can easily pass in exchange of £1m!! I can assure you that this is not the case. I worked hard and sacrificed much to pass the bar and much more to get on to the course itself.
    what i would have liked to see in your article is a deeper analysis of why it is so hard to pass the bar in Mauritius and to recommend some bigger changes perhaps even try to lobby changes to the current system. Obviously it is in need of it. Are lecturers to blame? Is the curriculum too hard? Are students not being taught the right way? Is the system corrupt? By that I mean, do you need political connections to pass?
    Focus on these questions instead Deepa and not on how ‘easy’ it is to pass UK bar because you clearly have not done this course otherwise you would not have been dismissive of it.
    To any others who might be reading or commented: I found this article mainly becasue I was researching about pupillage in mauritius. If anyone has information, please get in touch.

  13. Kus says:

    Hey Deepa! Thnx 4 having written on this issue! I know you are trying to describe the problem with the Mauritian bar council exams but maybe something went wrong in presenting the problem.

    I do agree with you Faizal.

    I won’t say that passing bar exams in UK is a child’s game or they’ll give you the certificate as a gift in return for R 1m!!

    But! When a student starts his bar course in UK, he at least has the hope of passing out & why not if he puts in all the required efforts! While in Mauritius, you can be toiling for it day and night, doing everything which a dedicated student should do but in vain!

    So the point is:-
    UK bar exams are not easy but they are RELATIVELY EASIER when compared to those of Mauritius..

  14. Vp says:

    So I have a question about taking the Bar in Mauritius and abroad!Is the BPTC not recognized in Mauritius?I mean once we’ve been called at the bar we need to redo it again in Mauritius?I am asking this question and it might sound stupid to some people but I am quite confused about the subject.Because I thought that once you’ve done the Bar in the UK there is no need to do it again in Mauritius.From where the idea to do the Bar in the UK instead of trying to pass it in Mauritius which is in vain.I would like to clarify this since a lawyer told me that we are forced to do the Bar in Mauritius.

  15. Calimero says:

    Yes.I agree to My L.Friend Mr.Bocus.It is never easy.In the Uk you have to struggle as much as in Mauritius.Unfortunately our council here, tends to be more severe.
    In Uk, statistics shows that students that took the bar exams have caused some students to question the quality of courses in the UK College of Law.

    The bar exam is a test given to any lawyer wishing to practice law in a certain state, and passing the exam is mandatory. Some UK law school students are concerned about the bar exam passage rate at UK compared to other Kentucky universities.in the U.S

    For July 2009, UK reported lower bar passage rates than Northern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville. first-time takers had a passage rate of 83 percent, which was 6 percentage points lower than NKU.

    Although there was a slight increase in the passage of UK Law alumni consisting of first-time takers and all takers last year, some third-year students are concerned with whether or not they are being prepared for the bar exam.

    President of the Student ­Bar Association, said she found research about what classes UK Law does not offer and what classes people who failed the bar did not take.

    The two most commonly not-taken classes (last year) from people that failed the bar exam were Conflict of Laws and Secured Transactions, Conflict of Laws is not being offered this semester for the law students.

    Any way, a lot can be said.But, one thing must be clear.We must re-organize the council here, or education will remain and has remained as it was always..expensive.If students are paying 40TRs.Give them their chance man.fucking system, and fuck deontology.

  16. Calimero says:

    Well said Ben.well said. Its very hard in Eng & W. They are taking us for granted, as if the expertise and knowledge can be bought. No you can’t buy even a single gram of it.We toiled hard every f year a la fac.Don’t come and write stupid things Mrs.Deepa. If she only knew the stress and hours of work before the BVC.
    Nothing more to say.

  17. Calimero says:

    Whats the use then to study here in mauritius and fail.Whats the use to study in england and come here to Mauritius, in the zest to avoid 1M Rs,and pay 40,000 Rs and fail again.It is absurd.There is a bug in this system here. If we don’t pass the Bar, what will become of us? No barristers will take us for associate or partners, do you want to work as a legal assistant, glueing envelopes,
    or stapling in the office?

    Vicariously Yours,
    Calimero

  18. Calimero says:

    She wrote this article ,misunderstood existing facts.She have to do research again and then write her article. Dear mrs Bookun, was under duress perhaps.
    lol!!!!!!!!! a mitigating factor she can use to evade critics.or even better, use insanity.

  19. H.s. says:

    I would say, even universities are influenced by politics nowadays, and this is why Universities are supplying according to the demand of politics. What happens if all the students pass?? There will be more options for people while choosing lawyers and this is quite unprofitable for the existing lawyers.

    1 out of 56 PASS… are they teaching alien stuffs over there?? Its clear corruption! I feel sorry for all those who spent years studying to finally fail. IF law is really so tough then why not do a selection exam before enrolling the students? OR what would it cost to lower the level?

  20. tash says:

    i am currently a second year student studying law in UK but i want to do my bar in mauritius. can anyone tell me when do i have to apply for it?

    thanks

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