The General Legal Council is warning it may not admit students this year to pursue professional law programme at the Ghana School of Law if the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) to regulate entry into the school is delayed.
The LI was first laid in Parliament for consideration but later withdrawn by the Attorney General, Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent has said.
He reported the Attorney General as saying there was an anomaly with the LI which had to be corrected.
When it was brought back to the House, the same issues- entrance exams and interviews- which have been the bone of contention between the Ghana Legal Council (GLC) and aggrieved students were still present in the LI.
The LI has been laid in Parliament and will take 21 mandatory days for it to mature into law.
Even before that maturity period elapses, the Subsidiary and Legislative Committee has been a hotbed of arguments for and against the use of entrance exams and interviews to admit law students.
The Supreme Court late last year described as unconstitutional the use of the entrance exams by the General Legal Council as part of its admission process.
The court said the exams was a flagrant violation of LI 1296 and instructed the GLC to take steps to amend the law.
With the LI having been laid before Parliament to begin its 21-day maturity grace period, persons for and against the writing of entrance exams have appeared before the Legislative Committee with arguments seeking to convince the Committee members.
Arguments Against Entrance Exams
One of the lawyers who secured the ruling from the Supreme Court and who represents the Association of Law Students said the General Legal Council will be engaging in an illegality if it went ahead to pass the LI.
Kofi Bentil said the conduct of the GLC is not known to the law.
According to him, the Supreme Court ruled that the entrance exams was wrong and illegal and asked the GLC to go back and make a different arrangement which will be in tandem with the law.
“Instead of making a different arrangement, the GLC has taken the same arrangement that has been declared illegal and says to Parliament that please make this a law so that we can go and continue to do what has been declared illegal,” he said.
He said the law in explicit terms states what must be the qualification for professional legal education in the country.
“It says you must have an LLB from a properly accredited institution. It is the National Accreditation Board that accredits these institutions. If the GLC is saying they don’t believe that the LLB that are being issued are of good enough quality, it is not for you to punish the students for what the National Accreditation Board has not done well. Deal with the Board,” he said.
He added the GLC has the power to, within two years of admission sack students they believe are substandard but they do not have the power to determine who comes in because that has already been taken care of by law.
In addition to that, he said the GLC has the final Bar examination through which they can determine who becomes a lawyer or does not.
Bentil does not understand why the GLC will be running a Law school with limited facility and prevent students from pursuing law education by using an illegal admission process.
“The professional law course is not rocket science that cannot be handled by anybody,” he said, adding, there is no reason why they must limit professional legal education to the Ghana School of Law.”
The Chairman of Legislative Committee of Parliament, Mahama Ayariga described the situation as “heated matter.”
Explaining what the situation is, the Bawku Central MP gave historical antecedents into how the GLC instituted entrance exams.
According to him, in 1960, there was an Act of Parliament Act 32 which gave the power to the GLC to make arrangement for legal education in Ghana through the use of LIs.
In line with that the Council instituted an LI 1296 which prescribed the courses that students must do to come to the law school.
“They didn’t make provision that after those courses you will write another examination before you come to the law school,” he said.
He said he benefited from that arrangement by going straight into the law school after writing and passing the courses.
At the time there was only one institution offering LLB, which is the University of Ghana.
However, with the mushrooming of schools pursuing LLB, the GLC on its own, has decided to introduce the entrance exam without recourse to the LI 1296.
But this is what the Supreme Court has declared as illegal and instructed the GLC to return to Parliament to amend the law.
Mahama Ayariga said the LI for the amendment has been laid and will take 21 days to mature.
“So in order to correct their mistake as directed by the Supreme Court, they then brought the LI to Parliament for us to pass and that is what we are working on now.
He said if one is able to mobilize two thirds majority in Parliament against it, it will be thrown out.