General News of Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Parliament will take a final decision on a petition calling for the withdrawal of the controversial Legal Profession Regulations 2017 from the House on Thursday February 1, 2018.
The petition, which was filed by the Association of Law Students had asked the President to impress upon Parliament to vote against the regulation.
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, and call to the Ghana Bar. The proposed LI in question, 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.
The LI is expected to become Law in February, 2018.
But the law students maintain that the document, if passed in its current form, will only restrict access to legal education.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Ben Abadallah, said Parliament will hold final deliberations on the petition on Friday.
“The committee met them today [Tuesday], and we have not taken any definitive decision on their petition. The Committee will meet on Thursday with the subsidiary legislative committee before we can take a definitive decision on their petition.”
He further stated that Parliament will withdraw the regulation if the Association’s petition is supported by two-thirds majority of Members of Parliament.
“It’s either to press upon the General Legal Council to withdraw the regulation failing which it is their prayer that two-thirds majority of Parliament will have the regulations annulled. If by the end of the day Parliament is persuaded by their submissions contained in the petition, then we will report to the plenary to have the regulations annulled.”
Protest from students
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.
Exams, interviews barred for Law School
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 the 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.
Bentil kicks against regulation
Vice President of policy think tank, IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, had said that if the controversial LI is passed, it will place a restriction on legal education in the country.
Kofi Bentil, who spoke to Citi News before a meeting between law students and Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee, indicated that 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.
Source: Ghanaweb news