Reform Legal Education in Ghana-2 Minority MPs submit Bill

“It is not too late to admit them because they have passed,”

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

Two Minority Members of Parliament, Hon. Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor and Francis Xavier Sosu who are MPs for South Dayi and Madina Constituencies respectively have presented a Private Members Bill that seeks to reform Legal Education in the Country.

In a Memo to the Clerk of Parliament, the Members of Parliament are requesting the amendment of the Legal Professions Act, 1960(Act 32), to exclude the Chief Justice as well as other Justices of the Supreme Court from the General Legal Council(GLC).

According to them, this will redefine the functions of the GLC and provide for reforms in Legal Education such that accredited Faculties of Law with the requisite facilities would be licensed to run professional law courses.

Moreover, this will provide the discipline of lawyers and related matters to give effect to Article 37(1) of the 1992 Constitution.

On October 29, 2021, the Parliament of Ghana ordered the General Legal Council to admit all 499 Law School applicants for successfully passing the Entrance Exams.

This was a unanimous decision arrived at through a voice vote on the floor of the House on Friday, October 29, 2021.

The call comes after a High Court adjourned to November 9, the case involving 143 Law School applicants and the General Legal Council(GLC).

Speaking on the floor of Parliament, the Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo Markins indicated that the Ghana School of Law per its posture is making the study of Law unattractive.

He, therefore, called on them to admit the 499 applicants since it was not too late.

“We are telling the Ghana law school that they continuously frustrating students, they are making the study of law unattractive. I know that the post-call students they had started lectures, they started last week but for the Professional law they are starting next week,” he said

“It is not too late to admit them because they have passed,” he added.

Furthermore, the Attorney General has today, November 1, 2021, The Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame has advised Parliament relative to their resolution that sought to order the General Legal Council to admit the 499 qualified law school applicants.

According to the AG, while he recognizes the legislative power of Parliament, the mode of exercising the power enshrined in Article 106 of the Constitution does not admit of resolutions.

“While recognizing the General Legislative powers of Parliament in Ghana, except as have been circumscribed by the Constitution, I am constrained to advise that Parliament is devoid of a power through the use of Parliamentary resolutions to control the process of admission into the Ghana School of Law,” it said.

“The mode of exercising legislative power enshrined in article 106 of the Constitution does not admit of the resolution,” it added.

In a letter dated November 1, 2021, and signed by the Attorney General, Mr. Godfred Dame, he indicates receiving letters forwarded to his outfit by the Presidency, from the National Association of Law Students and the 499 law school candidates for his advice.

Also, the AGs notes that the Department has delivered its comments on the above letters and also received a letter from the President, directing him to make the necessary intervention to the General Legal Council on behalf of the 499 students to address the issue.

Meanwhile, the Bill has outlined specific reasons to buttress the call for Legal reforms. They include;

Challenges with Law School Admission and need for Reforms

According to the proponents of the Bill, previous admission challenges into the Ghana School of Law coupled with the 28 percent pass in this year’s admissions represents a systemic problem that must be of concern to all Democracy watchers, Parliament as an institution, and everyone who believes in equality and fairness before the law as a critical component to the creation of a free and fair society with ample opportunities for everyone. 

Lack of adequate space or deliberate attempt not to increase lawyers

Also, the Bill highlights the fact that this years’ experience where about 499 students made the 50% mark but could not gain access to the law school gives more reasons why we must take a second look at how legal Education is organized in Ghana.

Removal of Chief Justice and Justices of Court from General Legal Council

Moreover, they argue thatthe inclusion of the Chief Justice and justices of the Superior Courts on the GLC is against constitutional presumptions of fairness, natural justice, and administrative justice enshrined in Article 23 of the 1992 Constitution. 

The discipline of Lawyers and Upholding Professional standards

Finally, the two MP’s are of the view that the Professional Body of the Practice of Law is the Ghana Bar Association and the discipline of Lawyers must be by the Bar Association. Given the fact that as A Professional Association, not all members subscribe to it, the Bar Council can set up a Disciplinary Committee made up of Senior Lawyers, representatives from the young Lawyer’s Forum, and persons who had previously held high judicial Officers to deal generally with professional misconduct of Lawyers.