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The Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament has backed the General Legal Council’s (GLC) decision to make LLB Students from recognized Universities to sit for an entrance examination before gaining admission.
The decision was taken during the committee’s meeting with stakeholders following the ‘legal war’ between the GLC and Law Students and some other individuals in the Country. Officials from the GLC argued strongly in favour of the new Legislative Instrument (LI); Legal Profession (Professional and Post Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018 (LI 2355) which was presented to Parliament on March 1, 2018. It is expected to come into force after 21 sitting days of Parliament in accordance with article 11(7) of the constitution.
According to the Chairman of the Committee, Mahama Ayariga, “The Committee is satisfied that the introduction of the entrance examination provided for in the Legal Profession (Professional and Post Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018 (LI 2355), is a mechanism for maintaining standards in the legal profession in order to ensure that students called to the Bar are progressively competent for the job”.
He said, The GLC as the regulatory body has the responsibility of ensuring that standards are maintained and therefore, any credible measure introduced in that respect must be supported, adding that,…..” Section 13 (1) (d) of Act 32 provides that:
‘(d) The Council shall make arrangements for regulating the admission of students to pursue courses of instruction leading to qualification as lawyers”.
It is therefore the contention of the Committee that, writing entrance examinations to gain admission to the Ghana School of Law complies with the parent legislation, hence within the mandate of the GLC, he stressed.
At the committee meeting, The Association of Law Students’ of Ghana led by its counsel Kofi Bentil, argued that, the introduction of the entrance examination and interview process before admission into The Ghana School of Law is unconstitutional, contrary to the provisions in Act 32 and LI 1296.
He indicates that “The Council has always misconstrued Section 13 (1) (d) and (e) of the Act 32 as the source of its power to conduct entrance examinations as part of its admission requirements “.
But The Council maintained its point to the effect that, “pursuant to Section 13 of Act 32, the Council is mandated to make arrangements for regulating the admission of Students to pursue courses of instruction leading to the qualification as lawyers”.
Briefing the committee of the government:s position on the matter, the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Fred Odame, said the government is aware of the current situation regarding legal education and has started with the process of introducing reforms into the sector.
He stated that, “Cabinet has already approved the draft Legal Profession Amendment Bill submitted to it by the Attorney-General. Cabinet has also approved the draft Ghana School of Law Bill.”
The General Legal Council (GLC) per Section 14 of the Legai Profession Act 1960 (Act 32) is mandated to make Regulations concerning matters of legal education and in particular, concerning the conduct of preliminary, intermediate and final examinations and fees to be charged for examinations among others.
Currently, Professional Law Course and Post Call to the Ghana Bar are regulated by the Professional Law Course Regulations, 1984, (L.i.1296).
Regulation 2 of L.l.1296 provides that “a person shall qualify for admission to the Professional Law Course at the Ghana School of Law, it the person is of good behaviour and if the person has a degree conferred by the University of Ghana or any other University or Institution approved by the Council”.
Students with Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Ghana previously enjoyed automatic entry into the Ghana School of Law since that was the only Faculty running the course.
Over the years. the National Accreditation Board (NAB) has accredited a number of institutions to run courses leading to the award of a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB). As a result, the number of LLB holders have outstripped the numbers that could be contained at the Ghana School of Law.
Consequently, the General Legal Council established new campuses at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GlMPA) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technoiogy (KNUST) in addition to the campus at Makola in order to increase the intake of LLB Holders willing to enroll for the Professional Law Course.
The Committee noted in its report that the instrument does not contravene the provisions of the Constitution, the Legal Profession Act 1960 (Act 32) and that Order 166 (3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament does entreat the House to adopt its report.
Source: Francis Edzorna Mensah
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