Law Society Rule 2-69.1 provides for the publication of summaries of credentials hearing panel decisions on applications for enrolment in articles, call and admission and reinstatement.
For the full text of hearing panel decisions, visit the Hearing reports section of the Law Society website.
ARUN MOHAN (formerly APPLICANT 5)
Hearing (application for enrolment): March 26 and 27, 2012
Panel: Majority decision: Jory Faibish and Peter Warner, QC; Minority decision: Tony Wilson, Chair
Report issued: July 6, 2012 (2012 LSBC 24)
Counsel: Jason Twa for the Law Society and Henry Wood, QC for Arun Mohan
In 1995, while a first-year student at UBC, Arun Mohan cheated on a math test by altering an exam after it was marked and complaining to the instructor that she ought to have given him higher marks. Mohan was suspended from UBC for one year.
Mohan denied cheating on the math exam, saying that his instructor had a language problem that led to a misunderstanding. In 2000, UBC approved Mohan’s application to have the notation of his academic suspension deleted from his academic record. Mohan completed a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2000.
Mohan entered UBC law school and in 2002 was suspended for 18 months for plagiarism. After his suspension, he was permitted to return to UBC law school, and he completed his LL.B degree in 2006.
In 2004, Mohan applied to the Law Society for temporary articles. He admitted to the law school plagiarism incident on his application form but did not admit to cheating on his math exam and his first academic suspension. Only when the Law Society inquired about what he did between first and second year as an undergraduate student, did Mohan admit to cheating on his math exam and the academic suspension that resulted from that incident.
Mohan voluntarily withdrew his application for temporary articles, went on to complete an LL.M at UBC, and re-applied to become an articled student in 2010.
The Law Society acquired UBC’s file copy of Mohan’s 2000 honours thesis for his bachelor’s degree in sociology and determined that it contained substantial plagiarism. Mohan argued that the thesis on file with UBC was not the thesis that he actually submitted and was graded on.
Mohan admitted that he plagiarized portions of a draft thesis; however, his explanation was that he never actually submitted it as his final draft for marking. He testified that he must have delivered the draft thesis by accident to the sociology department much later when his professor asked him for a copy for UBC’s archives.
After months of searching, Mohan found in a garage what he alleged to be a copy of his final thesis that was used for grading. This thesis contained no discernible plagiarized or unattributed material. But the document contained no grade or comments on it.
Mohan stated that he planned to use his draft thesis, which he acknowledged contained plagiarized material, if he ran out of time to do original work before the submission deadline. However, he said he did have time to revise the thesis, attributing sources and eliminating any plagiarized material, and submitted it for grading in 2000.
Majority (Faibish and Warner)
Despite the majority’s serious concerns about Mohan’s evidence on the issue of the thesis, his admitted history of academic fraud and deception, and his admitted deception and lack of forthright disclosure in his 2004 application for enrolment (where he continued to allege his first-year math instructor misunderstood what happened owing to language issues), there was no evidence before the panel that was inconsistent with Mohan’s evidence on this thesis issue. There was only suspicion and doubt.
The panel found ample evidence that Mohan had, since 2005, conducted himself in an honest, professional and ethical manner and had fully admitted his past transgressions. The panel was particularly influenced by reference letters from a UBC professor, his intended principal and a law firm where he worked as a researcher. Additionally, the articling offer that a firm made to Mohan in November 2010 remains open.
The panel found that Mohan’s reputation and standing had risen to meet the standards required, and ordered that he be enrolled in the Law Society admission program.
In the panel’s view, however, Mohan’s successful seven years of rehabilitation, balanced against the depth and duration of his prior wrongdoing and the Law Society’s need to protect the public interest, indicate the need for conditions and limitations during his first few years of practice if he successfully completes the admission program.
Based solely on the issue of the 2000 honours thesis and Mohan’s explanation, the minority did not believe his explanation.
The panel was asked to believe Mohan when he said a 50-page paper discovered in a box in a garage in 2012, without a cover page and containing typographic errors, was the one he submitted to UBC as his final thesis and on which he received a mark. But a 78-page paper without the same typographic errors, but containing substantial plagiarized material, was not the thesis he was graded on, even though it has been maintained by UBC for over a decade.
The minority believed that Mohan was repeating the pattern of deceit established earlier in his academic career. Accordingly, the minority did not find Mohan to be of good character and repute and fit to become a barrister and a solicitor of the Supreme Court.
On July 12, 2012 the Credentials Committee resolved to refer the matter to the Benchers for a review of the decision under section 47 of the Legal Profession Act.