Over 2,000 concerned citizens have signed an online petition to Parliament to withdraw or annul the obnoxious and supposedly gazette Legislative Instrument (LI), to regulate admissions into Ghana School of Law.
The primary, if not sole, purpose is to prevent bonafide law graduates from becoming lawyers. As at Tuesday, 2,285 concerned citizens had signed the petition.
Only 2,807 lawyers in Ghana
A total of 2,807 lawyers are licensed to practice in Ghana. 1 Lawyer to almost 80,000 people. Out of this number 2,112, are based in Accra, 253 are in Kumasi, 58 are in Sekondi/Takoradi, 45 are in Cape Coast, 36 are in Koforidua and 92 are in Sunyani. The reality is a ratio of one lawyer to almost 80,000 people.
But the graver reality is, and as already noted, a good number of this number work in legal departments of one institution or the other and so they never get to interact with the people.
Now here is the point: the majority of the 28 million citizens simply do not have access to a lawyer. But, even if they did when they have the need for critical legal services, including when they come face to face with the criminal justice system, they simply cannot afford the cost of the process and can’t hire a lawyer.
Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare, a Ghanaian lawyer based in the US, wondered why a country with one of the lowest per capita number of lawyers in the world will deny qualified law graduates who are willing to pay to study a mere opportunity to take the bar examination. It is, of course, the most recent mystery of the world!
“Today being the seventh day of the LI’s life in Parliament, we note with profound sadness that the Deans of the Law Schools have surprisingly lost their voices at a time when their voices of support for their students are most needed.
“As schools have reopened and they are busy plotting various means to collect that high tuition from their students, may Chineke help them rediscover their lost voices!
“We thank everyone who has already signed this petition. If you have not signed, now is a good time to do so. Don’t forget to ask a friend or family member to sign the petition as well,” he said.
The full petition
We are 2,200 strong and still growing. Great news! We now have 2,200 persons who have endorsed this petition. It took us only 2 days to get this number. Tomorrow, the Subsidiary and Legislation Committee meets to discuss the proposed LI. We will present the petition and your voice to them. Nothing makes the argument against annulling this obnoxious LI better than the voice of 2,200 people and still counting. Let us get some more…
We the undersigned and concerned citizens of Ghana; Committed to Justice, Accountability and the Rule of Law; Sharing the vision of President Kwame Nkrumah to make professional legal education accessible to all qualified law graduates; Understanding the importance of legal education in a modern economy; Fully Aware that the Legal Profession Act (1960) binds the General Legal Council (GLC) to provide opportunities for law graduates to qualify as lawyers; Further Aware that the Legal Profession Act (1960) contemplates a bifurcated legal education system with an entry point at the Law Faculties and an exit point at the School of Law; Emphasizing that the bifurcated legal education system was a product of considerable research done by the International Advisory Committee (comprised of Professors L. C. B. Gower (London School of Economics), Sir Zelman Cowen (University of Melbourne) and Arthur Sutherland (Harvard Law School)) to examine legal education in Ghana and the Denning Committee, appointed by the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, to examine legal education in Africa;
Noting that LI 1296 (1984) incorporates the bifurcated Legal education system;
Perplexed that the Council, since 2012, has imposed entrance examinations and interviews in clear violation of LI 1296 and the Legal Profession Act (1960);
Noting that the Supreme Court on June 22, 2017 declared these entrance examinations and interviews as unlawful and unconstitutional;
Noting that the Council’s prior unlawful actions have resulted in extraordinary injustice and occasioned uncommon hardship to over 3,000 students;
Further Noting that the denial of admission to the 3,000 qualified students represents forcible and unlawful taking of their intellectual property rights;
Flabbergasted that the Council has not taken any steps to compensate or make whole the victims of its unlawful actions;
Taking Note that the Attorney General hastily laid Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2017 in Parliament on December 22, 2017 without causing it to be published in the gazette;
Taking Note that the Attorney General withdrew the proposed LI from Parliament on February 4th, 2018 only to have it re-laid on February 6th, 2018;
Observing that the proposed Regulation seeks to commandeer Parliament to rubber stamp the General Legal Council’s (Council) prior illegal actions;
Further Observing the proposed Regulation does not provide any relief for the victims of the Council’s illegal actions;
Stating unequivocally that the proposed Regulation, if allowed to ripen into law, will conflict with the Supreme Court’s order that the mechanism for 2018 admissions to the Ghana School of Law should be in place by December 22, 2017;
Further Stating that the proposed Regulation seeks to put entrance “tariffs,” unrelated to technical competence, on qualified students;
Further Stating that the entrance tariffs are at variance with the Council’s duty to provide opportunities for law graduates to qualify as lawyers;
Further Stating that the entrance tariffs effectively implement a quota system to ration out space at the Ghana School of Law at a time when there has been a significant growth in the number of Law Faculties and students interested in entering the Law Profession;
Highlighting that the Legal Profession Act (1960) anticipates growth in the number of Law Graduates and wisely provides that professional education should be offered at the School of Law and alternative places of instruction;
Highlighting that the Law Faculties are alternative places of instruction that can accommodate the growth in the number of students qualified to pursue the professional component of the legal education;
Further Highlighting that electronic platforms, distance education and private entrepreneurs can provide the facilities needed to cope with the increase in the number of qualified students;
Concerned that the proposed regulation has not been disseminated to the public to allow for debate;
Concerned that the Council has not indicated that number of its members who voted for and against the new LI;
Concerned that the proposed regulation is not accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles underlying the regulation, the defects of the existing regulation (LI 1296), the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction of a new regulation;
Further Concerned the Council may not be properly constituted;
Insisting that Parliament should not allow itself to be used as a vessel for legitimizing the ultra vires actions of administrative bodies or otherwise be seen as partaking in any scheme that perpetuates injustice and robs citizens of their substantive legitimate expectations.
We hereby call on Members of the Parliament of Ghana to advice the Attorney General to withdraw the proposed Regulation immediately, or failing that, to annul same.
Source: The Finder