The Legislative Instrument 2355 which has been passed into law by Parliament only gives an interim solution to the problem of getting resources to man professional law training and equal and fair chance to all applicants. More so, the controversy between students of law and Ghana Legal Council is not peculiar to the law profession alone, rather the solution should be given a holistic view to encompass other professions like medical doctors and chattered Accountants etc.
Students are not supposed to provide resources that will aid access to Professional Law Training at the Law School. However, the Ghana Legal Council (GLC) has supervised and managed the affairs of the Law school for years. I was surprise to read from the report of the committee on subsidiary legislation on the legal profession regulations 2018, that Ghana School of Law does not have the capacity to contend with the number of Candidates to be admitted this year should the LI2355 be annulled. Inasmuch as its important to set a criterion in order to give equal and competitive chance to the best, however it will be very deterministic if you have GLC making arrangements for independent examination with the knowledge that Ghana School of Law cannot admit exceeding a certain number. This can make qualified student deem as not qualified. Let's expand Ghana School of Law and given that the facilities and resources exist to admit large number of students; no one will be worried when students fail. Its not fair for GLC to basing their argument on the inability to provide resources as a basis to introduce quota for students who have obtain an LLB degree from reputable universities.
The easiest thing to do is to blame. GLC has to take responsibility. I believe that Ghana Law School takes tuition from the students every academic year. In addition, application forms also go at a fee of if my sources are right Ghs1000.0 and interestingly every year, applicants who are admitted are far less than the total number of applicants. Using this year as a case study, out of One Thousand, two hundred and Thirty applicants (1230) only Five hundred and Twenty-four (524) qualify or shortlisted or can be admitted by the law school. From this analysis alone, certain funds are generated but only God can determine how Government Institutions used their Internally Generated Funds (IGF), because its only when they obtain IGF that they know of their autonomous nature.
Again, General Legal Council cannot also blame private university that runs LLB degree on grounds that they lack adequate facilities and GLC is unable to supervise them. Truth be told these private institutions who run LLB degree do have the satisfaction of National Accredited Board (NAB) and some are affiliated to Reputable Institutions. My worry is, how well has GLC coordinated with National Accreditation Board in giving accreditation to institution to offer LLB degree. When institutions fail in their duties and the penalty is borne on innocent students, the status quo will not change and our institutions will always be weak. My worry is when will the General Legal Council is not take blame for being inefficient, visionless to expand, lacking the ability to manage professional law training. Ghana has a population of 27 million at 2010, however the number of lawyers is somewhere around 2000. The ratio of lawyers to the population is obviously pathetic. Ghana as a nation needs lawyers.
I have a strong believe that General Legal Council has no problem training more professional lawyers to increase the number of lawyers in Ghana. Rather, they fear that when lawyer increase in number then natural the market value placed on lawyer will reduce. I trust that the market doesn't discriminate and so far as you are a good lawyer your value will not reduce with increasing number of trained lawyer. Cutting down supply of lawyers just to increase your market value by attracting high demand is a lazy way of gaining value. That is why the General Legal Council is bent on using heaven and hell measures including misconduct, to reduce and determine who can have access to enter law school and pursue professional legal education.
Its worthy to note that that Ghana Legal Council admits to that fact that they lack facilities as against the increasing number of LLB degree holders in the country. This was demonstrated as GLC established new campuses at Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). It must be noted that the introduction of examination and interview at a prerequisite to gain admission to law school started in 2012 to scale down numbers because of limited infrastructure at the Law school and its campuses. According to the Supreme court in the case of Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare verses Attorney General established that "since the constitution has made elaborate provisions for making changes to statutory instrument, the failure by the Ghana Legal Council to employ the constitution mode in the introduction of new requirements is an instance of a failure to act with the requirements imposed on them by the law. By sidestepping the procedure provided for in article 11(7), as authorized by article 297(b) and (d), there is a clear violation of the relevant provisions which is an instance of inconsistency of an act or conduct within the contemplation of article 2(1) of the constitution".
Therefore, The Ghana Legal Council cannot use an administrative fiat to determine who get access to law school. What the LI2355 seeks to do it to gain legal backing and legitimacy for a wrongful practice in the past. Parliament upon passing the new LI 2355 has only given legal backing and legitimacy to the General Legal Council and has strengthen a crime they have practiced since 2012 to the oversight of many. This is a new generation and we pay attention to details, GLC are lucky students of law are only seeking redress and not adding the damage General Legal Council has caused many who have been denied access to Professional Legal Training. General Legal Council should accept that for once they have lacked logic in this situation and should find holistic solution that will equip and increase the capacity of law school and not just introducing a law. The LI2355 has been passed anyway however, it only leaves us to solve the problem another day. Passing a law is easy but the law in itself doesn't solve a problem.
Programs Manager, Young Africans for Opportunities
Research Volunteer ILAPI-Ghana
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