Applying for admission to the Singapore Bar: the Supporting Affidavit

Filing your supporting affidavit and the various exhibits

  •  12 mins  •  
Applying for admission to the Singapore bar
This is part of a series covering the process of getting admitted as an advocate and solicitor in Singapore. For an overview of the process and to view other posts in this series, see: Applying for admission to the Singapore Bar: Overview

After receiving the SILE certificate, you can proceed to file your supporting affidavit. You should also file your request for hearing at the same time.1

The form of the supporting affidavit is prescribed in the Second Schedule of the Legal Profession (Admission) Rules. You can also refer to the following template.

The following exhibits should be annexed to the affidavit:

  1. SILE letter certifying that you are a QP (Exhibit A)
  2. COD (Exhibit B)
  3. 2 recent certificates of good character (Exhibit C)

Requesting for a hearing date

It is very important that you request for a hearing date at the same time that you file your supporting affidavit. This can be done by checking a box and composing the request for hearing via eLitigation.

screenshot of checkbox in eLitigation

screenshot of document view in eLitigation

If you do not request for a hearing date, your application will not be scheduled to be heard at the next available call date — you may miss 'mass call' if applicable.

Guidelines for supporting affidavit

To avoid issues with your application, you should take note of the following — some of these are put together from the guidance published by the various organisations and some are from my personal experience. You may want to use this as a checklist of sorts to be checked against when drafting and just before you file your affidavit.

Formatting requirements

Certain requirements pertaining to affidavits are prescribed under para 78 of the Supreme Court PD 2021. In particular:

  • Formatting
    • There should be a blank margin of ≥ 35mm on all 4 sides of the page
    • The text of the affidavits must be double-spaced on white paper
  • Top right hand corner: The following information must be printed in a single line at the top right hand corner of the first page of every affidavit:
    • The party on whose behalf the affidavit is filed
    • The name of the maker of the affidavit
    • The ordinal number of the affidavit in relation to the previous affidavits filed in the matter by the maker of the affidavit
    • The date on which the affidavit is to be filed
    • For example, "Applicant; Alfred Denning; 1st; 05.06.2023"
  • Pagination
    • Every page of the affdavit must be paginated consecutively and the page number must be inserted at the centre top of each page of the affidavit other than the exhibits and separators.
    • Every page of the exhibits, including cover pages, dividing sheets or separators between exhibits, must be consecutively numbered at the top right hand corner of each page, following from the page numbers of the text of the affidavit (i.e., the first page of the exhibits must take the page number following the last sheet of the text of the affidavit). The page number of the affidavit must correspond to the page number in the PDF version.
  • Bookmarks: Each exhibit in the affidavit must be separately bookmarked in the PDF that is filed. The names of the bookmarks should follow the initials of the maker of the affidavit, e.g., "AD-1", "AD-2", etc.

Content of affidavit

Be sure to carefully scrutinise the contents of your affidavit and ensure the language is up to date, especially if you referred to an old template. Here's a template from 2023.

In particular, you should check the following:

  • The affidavit should be filed in the General Division of the High Court
  • Legislation: The references to legislation should be to the 2020 Revised Editions of Legislation, e.g. you should refer to the "Legal Profession Act 1966" instead of to the "Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)", "Mental Capacity Act 2008" rather than "Mental Capacity Act (Cap. 177A)", etc.
  • Name and NRIC: Your name and NRIC (including in the affidavit title) should exactly match that specified in your NRIC. Any punctuation and spacing should be the same.
  • Citizenship: Ensure you correctly state your citizenship status.
  • Degree
    • Ensure that the type of degree you have (LLB/JD), the name of your university, and the date on which the degree was conferred is as per the graduation certificate you previously provided to SILE (as part of the QP registration process) and also matches the details in your eLitigation profile.
    • There is no need to specify the class of your degree (e.g. Second Upper, etc).
  • Practice training period: Ensure the details here match the COD.
  • Suitability to practice: Anything affecting your suitability to practice (including, criminal convictions, stern warnings,2 as well as plagiarism,3 cheating during assessments,4 and other academic/assessment misconduct) should be declared and sufficient particulars given.
  • Pronouns: Ensure the pronouns you use throughout the affidavit are correct. To reduce the risk of errors, you may want to avoid using pronouns as far as possible.
  • Swearing/affirming: Ensure you are consistent in swearing/affirming, in the main content of the affidavit and in the exhibit cover pages.
  • Exhibits: Ensure that all exhibits have the requisite cover page and are issued and dated on or before the date of affirming/swearing of the affidavit

Do also carefully review your affidavit after it has been scanned, before you file it. I have heard of affidavits being returned because the scanner or the PDF software used to view and edit the affidavit (e.g. to add page numbers) altered some text slightly (e.g. turning the 'S' in a NRIC number into a '5'). This can happen with certain scanners, PDF software, OCR features, etc.5

Certificate of diligence

Check to ensure that:

  • The COD is in the form prescribed by SILE
  • The COD clearly states the designation of the persons signing the certificate. Such persons must be either a partner or director of the law practice and their designation should be stated as such, rather than e.g. Chairman or CEO.
  • The start and end dates of your practice training period match that specified in your eLitigation profile.
  • The date on your COD should be earlier than that on the SILE Certificate.

Certificates of Good Character

Check to ensure that:

  • You have at least 2 certificates of good character annexed6
  • Each certificate must be signed by the certifier (and dated)
  • Applicant's details: Each certificate states the applicant's full name exactly as per their NRIC (including any punctuation and spacing).
  • Certifier's details:
    • Each certifier's full name and residential address (not office or c/o address) should be stated. The address should include the postal code and unit number, where applicable.
    • Although the Law Society's guidance continues to state that the "NRIC numbers (Passport numbers for non-Singapore citizens)" of each certifier must be stated, this does not appear to be necessary. The template in the LP(A)R 2011 does not require this and I know of applicants who did not specify the NRIC numbers of their certifiers yet did not have their applications objected to.
    • At least one of the certifiers must be a Singapore resident.7
  • Relationship with applicant
    • The certifiers must not be immediately related to the applicant.8 The Law Society's guidance says that, for example, this means your fiancé or family relative should not be your certifier.
    • Each certifier must have known the applicant for at least 2 years.9
    • You should state the relationship between the certifier and the applicant clearly (usually this will be "friend")
  • Occupation: The occupation of each certifier must be clearly stated.
    • According to SILE's guidance, stating the occupation as "law graduate" or "in between jobs" is unacceptable as that is not an occupation. In such situations, the certifier should be expressly stated to be "unemployed".
    • The certifier does not need to be working full time. According to SILE's guidance, a "trainee", "intern", "student", "homemaker", etc. can be a certifier.

Importantly, each certifier must have had "opportunities to judge the applicant's character". There should be some elaboration showing this (1-2 sentences or so ought to be sufficient).

The Law Society's guidance states that the following examples are insufficient:

  • "The applicant and I met in secondary school"
  • "I find that the applicant is of good character"

Some examples I am aware of that were not objected to include:

I am a friend of the applicant and was his senior at [university]. I was his facilitator in the freshmen orientation camp and we also attended several events and elective classes together.

I am a friend of the applicant and was her schoolmate at [university] where we attended several classes together. We have had many opportunities to interact together and build our friendship inside and outside of school. When we were schoolmates, we studied, shared notes and discussed difficult questions together leading up to our final examinations. Thereafter, we kept in contact and would regularly meet up over food and activities such as attending mini golf sessions.

Over the course of our training stint in the [department of law firm], we worked closely together on multiple matters. Some examples of instances where we collaborated together include [redacted example]. Outside of work, I have also had numerous opportunities to judge the applicant's character. We regularly meet up over the weekends and frequently attend various art exhibitions, talks, and fairs in Singapore together…

I am a friend of the applicant and was his classmate at [secondary school]. We collaborated on several projects together in secondary school and have travelled overseas together on several occasions.

I am a friend of the applicant and we have collaborated on several community service projects together in Singapore, for the benefit of the elderly and underprivileged children.

I was his flatmate when we were both studying in [university] and continue to be a friend of his. We have also travelled together on a number of occasions, including to [names of countries].

I am a friend of the applicant and have previously travelled overseas with him. We have also collaborated on various projects. My experiences as a friend, travel companion, and collaborator have provided me with numerous occasions to assess his character.

Commissioning of supporting affidavit

Since this is an affidavit, it will have to be sworn/affirmed10 before a Commissioner for Oaths.11 This may be arranged by the organisation with which you are doing your training contract, or you may have to arrange it yourself. You can probably get some recommendations by asking around the office or from friends.

Generally, Commissioners for Oaths in Singapore do not charge for commissioning services in relation to supporting affidavits for applications for admission.

The commissioning process is short and straightforward. After booking an appointment or walking in (possible in some cases), the Commissioner for Oaths will verify your identity (e.g. by checking your NRIC, driving licence, passport, etc. against your affidavit) and witness your signing of the affidavit, before signing and placing their stamp at the relevant locations.

If necessary, you can amend your affidavit before it is filed by re-affirming it before a Commissioner for Oaths.12

Affirming your affidavit overseas

A supporting affidavit (or a supplemental affidavit) is an affidavit like any other affidavit filed in court, hence it can be sworn/affirmed overseas.13 However, it must be sworn/affirmed before a "person authorised to administer oaths and affirmations" in the relevant jurisdiction — this will generally be a Notary, Notary Public, or equivalent.14 You may have to pay for the relevant notarisation services.

If you are fortunate enough to be in a city where there is a Singapore embassy or consulate, you can also seek consulate assistance to administer your oath/affirmation (e.g. in Hong Kong, San Francisco, Washington, New York, etc). It may also be possible to request for notary services from a Commonwealth embassy/consulate, but my understanding is that generally embassies/consulates only provide such services for documents to be used in legal proceedings in their home country and I don't personally know anyone who has managed to do this.

It is unlikely that you will need to prove that the person who administered your oath/affirmation overseas is authorised to do so.15

Whilst I don't think it's common for applicants to affirm their supporting/supplemental affidavits overseas, and it's probably best to avoid the trouble if possible, I know of a few people who were required by circumstances to do so (e.g. in the USA, in Taiwan, in Japan, etc), successfully did so, and were admitted.

Timing for filing of supporting affidavit

It is customary for practice trainees to take a call break after completing their training contract. This is in essence a period of no-pay leave in between their completion of the training contract and the date on which they are called to the bar. The specifics (e.g. duration, when exactly you can take it, etc) vary from organisation to organisation — some organisation will allow you to take the full period off (which may about 2 months or so), others will give you 2-4 weeks, whereas others may not allow you to take a call break at all (on account of 'work exigencies', 'manpower requirements', etc).

Since you can only file your supporting affidavit after you have fulfilled all the substantive requirements (in particular, after you have completed your training contract), it is common for there to be some time pressure vis-a-vis filing before you take the customary call break. It may therefore be prudent for you to draft your affidavit in advance and have it ready to be signed and commissioned as soon as you receive the SILE certificate.

In the event that you are unable to affirm and file your supporting affidavit before your call break, and you are travelling overseas during your call break, you may have to affirm and file it overseas (see Affirming your affidavit overseas).

On a separate note, when planning your call break, you will also want to consider the likely dates of the mass call and mass call hearing.

Letter of no objection

After you file your supporting affidavit, just sit back and wait for SILE, AGC, and the Law Society to send you a letter confirming that they have no objections to your application for admission. Generally, the organisations will review your application in that order (i.e. SILE, AGC, then the Law Society), and you should receive the letters of no objection in that order. Here are some sample letters:

The letters should all be sent via email (as attached PDFs), though AGC may additionally send an original of their letter via snail mail.

The SILE, AGC, and Law Society must provide their letters of no objection (or file their objections) no later than 5 days before the hearing date.16

As SILE takes the first cut, most if not all issues with your application should be caught by SILE, so once you receive SILE's letter of no objection, it is quite likely the others will follow shortly. That said, I have heard of cases where AGC returns the affidavit even after SILE has issued their letter of no objection (because AGC caught some irregularity that SILE missed), or where SILE returns the affidavit despite already having issued their letter of no objection (because they identified some irregularity upon further review).

Supplemental affidavit

It is not uncommon for affidavits to be returned by SILE or AGC. In many cases, applicants will be figuring out the admission process and drafting their affidavit whilst working full time and dealing with a full workload. The organisations reviewing the affidavits seem to be very particular and may return your affidavit for very minor (e.g. a statute reference not using the 2020 Revised Edition title). Having your affidavit returned is not the end of the world — most issues can be quickly remedied by filing a supplemental affidavit.

Timing for filing of supplemental affidavit

When returning your supporting affidavit, SILE will generally specify a deadline by which they expect you to file your supplemental affidavit. If the return occurs fairly early (e.g. in mid-June when the mass call is in August), you may be able to get an extension of time if necessary.17

The AGC and the Law Society may not specify a deadline and may also not respond to queries or requests for extension of time. This may be because they generally review applications after SILE and are under greater time pressure to complete their review before the mass call date.


The LP(A)R 2011 does not prescribe the format a supplemental affidavit should take, but you can refer to these templates:

Some other pointers:

  • Do double check the title and content of your supplemental affidavit to ensure all is in order — it would be best to avoid having to file an additional supplemental affidavit
  • Also check the exhibit references, dates, and the header
  • An affidavit cannot technically be altered (so you should avoid using language suggesting you are amending your previous affidavit). Instead, mistakes in an earlier affidavit can be corrected via a later affidavit18

  1. Para 156(4) Supreme Court Practice Directions 2021
  2. E.g. Re Tay Jie Qi [2023] SGHC 59
  3. E.g. Re Suria Shaik Aziz [2023] SGHC 129
  4. E.g. Re Tay Quan Li Leon [2022] SGHC 133 and Re Wong Wai Loong Sean [2022] SGHC 237
  5. See e.g. Xerox scanners/photocopiers randomly alter numbers in scanned documents; also see Verge article
  6. It seems possible to annex more than 2, just in case, and I might have done so if it had occurred to me at the time. But you will incur the per-page filing fees. Perhaps worth it 'just to be safe'?
  7. r 25(5)(b), LP(A)R 2011
  8. r 25(5)(a)(i), LP(A)R 2011
  9. r 25(5)(a)(ii), LP(A)R 2011
  10. Sworn if you are a Christian or Catholic, affirmed otherwise.
  11. O 15 r 18, ROC 2021.
  12. O 15 r 26(1) ROC 2021.
  13. O 15, r 17, ROC 2021.
  14. O 15 r 23, ROC 2021.
  15. The seal or signature of a commissioner for oaths in an affidavit affirmed in or outside Singapore must be accepted as valid unless the contrary is shown (O 15 r 28, ROC 2021).
  16. r 29, LP(A)R 2011.
  17. I know of one person who successfully got an extension of time of a week or so, allowing them to file their supplemental affidavit after they returned to Singapore.
  18. O 15 r 26(2), ROC 2021.