At last, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame have moved against his claim that Parliament’s resolution was not binding and opted to direct the General Legal Council (GLC) to grant admission to the 499 students who were denied entry into the Ghana School of Law.
But this didn’t come without firmer conditions prescribed for the Council.
“Grant deferred admission to the 499 candidates with effect from May 22. A special provision can be made for the first-year professional law course by candidates already admitted to run from October, 2021 to April, 2022. The 499 candidates may undertake their programme from May 2022 and ending November, 2022. Arrangements would have to be put in place for the two sets of candidates to undertake their pupilage and be called to the bar at a common date in the next two years.” He wrote in a letter to the GLC.
He said, alternatively, the GLC can organize a special examination in November for the aggrieved students to justify their admission.
The Attorney General painted a picture “of a lack of transparency and doubts about the integrity of the admission processes into the Ghana School of Law, created by the manner in which the admission processes were handled by the GLC in 2021.
“These circumstances, in my respectful view, warrant a reconsideration of the decision not to admit the 499 candidates. I am aware that arrangements have been put in place already for commencement of the first-year professional law course by candidates deemed to have passed the entrance examination for the 2021/2022 academic year” the Attorney General’s letter read.
This was not long after the Minority have presented a memorandum to the Speaker of Parliament seeking to pass vote of censure against him (Godfred Dame) for failing to implement a resolution unanimously passed on October 29, 2021 by Parliament, that the General Legal Council admits into the Ghana School of Law 499 students who sat for and passed the entrance examination of the Ghana School of Law for the 2021/22 legal year in accordance with its own published grounds rules.
He was accused of impugning the image and integrity of Parliament through statements unbecoming of the holder of the office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice of this Republic.
Mr Dame had earlier told Parliament it’s devoid of the power to control the process of admission into the Ghana School of Law. He said, the resolution of Parliament is not binding, and that it’s impotent.
Parliament on Friday October 29, 2021 resolved that all LLB students who obtained the 50 per cent pass mark in the law school entrance examinations should be admitted. The unanimous decision was arrived at by voice vote in Parliament.
But in a response, the AG said “Respectfully, I am aware of a resolution passed by Parliament at its sitting on Friday, 29th October, 2021 in these terms: … The General Legal Council is hereby directed to proceed and admit all the students who passed in accordance with the advertised rules of the examinations. The Attorney-General is the leader of the bar in Ghana and he must see to it that the directive that 499 students who scored 50 marks are admitted is complied with.
“We do not want to get to contempt of Parliament issues. Whilst 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.
“The mode of exercising legislative power enshrined in article 106 of the Constitution does not admit of resolutions.
“In accordance with section 13(1)(e) and (f) of the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32), the power to regulate admission of students to pursue courses of instruction leading to qualification as lawyers and to hold examinations which may include preliminary, intermediate and final examinations has been vested in the General Legal Council.
As if that was not enough, Godfred Dame went public to declare that practicing law is a privilege, and not a right.
He said this during the induction ceremony of new executives of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) earlier this week.
“Mr. President and new executives, you owe a duty to drive home the point that the practice of law is not a right, it is a privilege. Along with it comes a moral obligation and a legal duty to uphold the dignity of the profession to ensure that the privileged call to the bar is not abused through unprincipled and disreputable conduct,” he advised.
Contrary to Godfred Dame’s mindset that law practice should be limited to some group of Ghanaians, a former Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Kpemka, thinks law practice is not a cult.
Speaking on The Big Issue on Citi FM/TV, Mr. Kpemka said the latest calls for reforms to legal education must be considered.
“Even if it means we create a two-tier system with regular admission and fee-paying, we should go ahead. After all, we do that for medicine and other courses so many more people can be trained as lawyers,” he said.
For Mr. Kpemka, “the most important thing is not to compromise quality, but ensure that you open it up.”
“It shouldn’t become a cult,” he stressed further.
To him, Ghana in dire need for more lawyers in different spheres of society, especially in governance.
“Most of the ills that we have; procurement infractions and all the ills that we have in terms of government expenditure, most of it is as a result of the fact that lawyers are not in the system to advise agencies, departments, etc.”
On his part, the South Dayi Law Maker, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamakpor, wants the Attorney General to more definite with his directive to the General Legal Council with respect to the admission of 499 students.
To him, it’s improper to give a directive with options.
“That directive to the General Legal Council amounts to no direction because you don’t direct an institution and give them an option, which is confusing as this.”
“How is it possible for a person who is in possession of [an LLB degree] not capable of reasoning legally or is not capable of solving practical legal problems.”
“It confirms my longstanding position that the entrance exam to law school tests nothing,” he added.