Parliament Asked To Throw Out Retrogressive Legal Education Bill

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Vice President of policy think tank, IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, has said that if the controversial Legal Profession Regulations 2017 currently before Parliament is passed, it would place a restriction on legal education in the country.

The LI, which is expected to be approved in February 2018 to regulate admissions into the Ghana School of Law, as well as call to the Ghana Bar, has been fiercely resisted by some law students.

The proposed LI among other things, states that the General Legal Council, will conduct an entrance exam for the admission of students to the school, and conduct interviews for all applicants who pass the Ghana School of Law Entrance Examination.

Interestingly, as the General Legal Council dilly-dally with legal education in the country, most top and even middle level universities in the UK have set up out-campuses in Ghana, where they charge Ghanaians students who wish to be lawyers colossal amounts for their LLB and other professional law programmes degrees.

Another interesting development is that Ghanaian LLB students from these universities, who were either denied entry to the country’s traditional university to read the same programme end up performing better than their colleagues who studied in the Ghanaian institutions during  both the entrance exams and the Bar exams.

Other arguments, had been that the General Legal Council must open the frontiers of legal education to expand the rule of law, besides rescuing Ghanaians who are at the mercy of these UK universities paying thousands of pounds to become lawyers.  Others have also advised the General Legal Council to raise revenue by opening up.

The General Legal Council, laid the Regulations in Parliament in mid-December 2017, in response to a Supreme Court order for a clear admission procedure into the Ghana School of Law.

But according to Kofi Bentil, who spoke to Citi News before a meeting between law students and Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee, the proposals by the General Legal Council, were against an earlier decision by the Supreme Court.

“We are of the view that the action taken by the General Legal Council constricts the parameters for legal education instead of expanding them, and they have very negative implications on everything… There can never be an overproduction of lawyers, we need lawyers in every area aspect of society, so we don’t know why we would make choices that will effectively constrict legal education…. I don’t think that was intended in the Supreme Court order given to the General Legal Council,” he said.

The Association of Law Students this week, petitioned President Akufo-Addo, to cause the withdrawal of the controversial Legal Profession Regulations 2017 from Parliament.

A group calling itself the Concerned Law Students, had earlier submitted a petition to Parliament against the new LI, describing it as a deliberate attempt by the GLC to frustrate them, something they considered a violation of their rights.

Ken Addor Donkor, the leader of the group, said the proposed LI, was an attempt to kill the dreams of law students.

When the Supreme Court declared the interviews unconstitutional, it said the requirements are in violation of the Legislative Instrument 1296, which gives direction for the mode of admission.

The Justices in delivering their judgment, also indicated that their order, should not take retrospective effect, but should be implemented in six months, when admissions for the 2018 academic year begin.

The plaintiff, Professor Kwaku Asare, a United States-based Ghanaian lawyer, went to court in 2015, challenging the legality of the modes of admission used by the Ghana School of Law.

According to him, the number of people, who were admitted into the Ghana School of Law, was woefully small considering the number of people who possessed LLB.

The Ghana Law School, has been criticized for being overly rigid considering that it serves 12 schools providing LLB degrees.

The current training regime, limits the intake into the Ghana Law School to under 500 of about-2000 LLB graduates annually.

In his suit, Professor Kwaku Asare, prayed for a declaration that GLC’s imposition of entrance examination and interview requirements for the Professional Law Course violates Articles ll (7) 297 (d) 23, 296 (a) (b) and 18 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.

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