The Law Society of Ontario is alleging a Mississauga man who operates a company offering prep courses for bar exams disseminated “cheating documents” to lawyer candidates, according to a civil action filed Tuesday in Superior Court of Ontario.
Aamer Chaudhury, and others, “engaged in similar conduct in relation to other LSO licensing examinations,” the statement of claim says.
Reached by the Star on Wednesday, Chaudhury denied any wrongdoing, and directed questions to his lawyer, Michael Lacy.
“We only became aware of the statement of claim as a result of the inquiry from the Toronto Star. We will be reviewing the same and will respond, if appropriate and necessary, in due course,” Lacy wrote in an email.
Earlier this year, the legal regulator announced it was suspending the legal licensing exams after allegations that bar exam materials had been improperly accessed by some candidates, possibly through a “third party.” The cheating allegedly occurred online during the pandemic. The tests have since resumed in person.
The LSO creates and administers licensing exams that are self-study, open-book and multiple choice. To be licensed as a lawyer in Ontario, one must pass two licensing examinations.
Chaudhury is the sole director of NCA Exam Guru, a federally incorporated company which has a commercial premise at 7025 Tomken Rd. in Mississauga. According to the company website, for the last seven years, NCA Exam Guru has been “helping lawyers from all over the world to convert their legal qualifications and take the NCA exam in Canada.”
In the court filing, the Law Society is seeking to stop the defendants from “possessing, using, communicating, or distributing examination content.” It’s also seeking damages in an amount to be assessed by the court “for breach of confidence, conspiracy, inducing breach of contract, and copyright infringement.”
The Law Society is also asking the court to order NCA Guru to provide exam content and pay to the regulator all profits earned as a result of copyright infringement. The plaintiff claims $100,000 in punitive and aggravated damages.
According to the statement of claim, Chaudhury is a former licensing candidate, but is not a licensed lawyer or paralegal. He is described as the principal of NCA Guru who leads some of the courses that include criminal, constitutional and administrative law.
NCA Exam Guru allegedly sent those enrolled in the preparation courses documents containing questions from LSO licensing examinations, according to the statement of claim.
“During lectures, Mr. Chaudhury has displayed examination questions from a larger document. He described the questions as ‘sample questions.’ The questions were from real LSO examinations,” the statement of claim says.
Further, the document says the defendants, only Chaudhury is named — along with Jane and John Doe representing other individuals associated with NCA Exam Guru, gave answers to real LSO exam questions, including from the November 2021 barrister examinations.
During the sitting of that exam, Chaudhury and other NCA Exam Guru representatives distributed to NCA Exam Guru clients documents containing answers to the exam in a variety of ways, including but not limited to Skype chats, WhatsApp messages, and email, the court document says.
“The defendants disseminated the Cheating Documents to allow their clients to cheat on the November 2021 barrister examination. Mr. Chaudhury, in particular, encouraged clients to use the Cheating Documents.”
The LSO alleges the defendants have engaged in similar conduct in relation to other LSO licensing examinations. The LSO is continuing to investigate in that regard, according to the statement of claim.
While it says a number of the candidates used the cheating documents to cheat in the November 2021 barrister exam, the statement of claim doesn’t explicitly indicate whether Guru clients were aware they were accessing “cheating documents.” It does say “certain candidates” joined in an agreement “by accepting, and in some case using, the Examination Content.”
While it is unknown how the defendants obtained the exam content, the statement says “they had actual and constructive knowledge that it was imparted in breach of confidence.”
Last month, the Law Society said the investigation team — headed by prominent Toronto lawyer Mark Sandler — had issued letters to individuals “who may be involved in the cheating scenario.” Their status is unclear.
In a statement released Wednesday, LSO chief executive officer Diana Miles said as the legal regulator, “we will take strong action against alleged wrongdoers.
“This action also serves as a reminder to candidates of their responsibilities and obligations around examination conduct, and the need to be on guard against any third-parties who may be organizing activities to facilitate cheating on licensing examinations.”
LSO will not comment any further now that the statement of claim has been filed, spokeswoman Wynna Brown wrote in an email sent Wednesday to the Star.
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