A private legal practitioner, Professor Kwaku Asare, has criticized the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, for directing that the controversial Legal Profession Regulations be withdrawn and re-laid in Parliament.
Professor Kwaku Asare is the Ghanaian US-based lawyer whose suit got the Supreme Court to cancel the use of examinations and interviews as requirements for law school admissions. It is based on that Supreme Court ruling, that the General Legal Council forwarded the current L.I to parliament, since the court ruled that the processes were illegal.
According to Kwaku Asare , despite expressing opposition to the idea of restricting the number of persons allowed to practice law in the country following her nomination as AG, and making similar statements following the confirmation of her appointment, Gloria Akuffo has not demonstrated it in her recent actions.
He stated in a Facebook post on Sunday that the AG could cause the L.I which he described as “retrogressive” to be dropped permanently if she wanted to, as the legislation can only go through if approved by the responsible Minister.
“I am, therefore, dumbfounded that you have directed that the obnoxious and retrogressive LI, which failed for lack of gazetting, be relaid in Parliament. Relaid for what?,” Prof. Asare wrote.
“If you are against the LI, as can be inferred, by your public statements, you are under no obligation to try to make it law. Under the Legal Profession Act, an LI can only be made if you, as the minister, approve it. Thus, you have the power, under the law, and moral responsibility to kill the obnoxious LI.”
He also called for the minutes of the General Legal Council’s deliberations on the Regulations and other related issues to be made public in order to flush out the “retrogressive characters” from the GLC.
“This raises another important point — who on the GLC is imposing these retrogressive ideas? We demand that the votes recorded on these issues be made public. The unruly GLC is an administrative body and cannot operate like a secret society. We must smoke out these retrogressive characters from our institutions!”
The Attorney General called for the Legal Profession Regulations to be withdrawn from Parliament and re-laid because some processes governing such regulations were not adhered to, adding that the regulation was not gazetted on time.
“Your directive to the Ghana Publishing Company Limited to gazette the Regulation after the 22nd of December, 2017, does not meet the requirement of article 11(7) (b) of the 1992 Constitution. I kindly advise that the necessary arrangements are made to ensure that the Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulation, 2017, are re-laid before Parliament in compliance with article 11 (7) of the 1992 constitution,” a letter from the Attorney General to the Parliamentary Committee on Subsidiary Legislation and sighted by citifmonline.com said.
Below is the full post by Professor Kwaku Asare
Dear Attorney General Gloria Akuffo:
During your confirmation hearings, you spoke eloquently about the tyranny of the entrance tariffs imposed on qualified students by the unruly GLC.
At the launch of the 58th annual Law week, a few months ago, you called “for the restructuring of the current legal education system in the country in tandem with modern trends.”
To that end, you called for the establishment of other Faculties, aside from the campus at Makola in Accra, and the employment of more lecturers to enable the school to admit more LLB graduates. You also refuted the perception that standards and the quality of the law profession would be compromised if the system allowed for more people into the profession.
You concluded, “I do not share the view that we have too many lawyers. It is retrogressive thinking and the excuse that we want to cut down the numbers to maintain standards is not acceptable. In every profession, we have the quacks and so limiting the numbers is not the solution.”
I am, therefore, dumbfounded that you have directed that the obnoxious and retrogressive LI, which failed for lack of gazetting, be relaid in Parliament.
Relaid for what?
If you are against the LI, as can be inferred, by your public statements, you are under no obligation to try to make it law. Under the Legal Profession Act, an LI can only be made if you, as the minister, approve it. Thus, you have the power, under the law, and moral responsibility to kill the obnoxious LI.
This raises another important point — who on the GLC is imposing these retrogressive ideas? We demand that the votes recorded on these issues be made public. The unruly GLC is an administrative body and cannot operate like a secret society. We must smoke out these retrogressive characters from our institutions!
For the avoidance of doubt, legal education was never meant to and does not terminate with an award of LLB in Ghana. The unruly GLC must carefully study the Parent Act and its rich legislative history to appreciate, once and for all, that what the Act contemplates is a bifurcated model with a starting point at the Faculties and an exit point at the School of Law or other alternative institutions. The objective of legal education has always been to produce lawyers not to produce terminal LLB degree holders.
Thus, the LI that the unruly GLC is bent on laying in Parliament will be ultra vires the Parent Act and hence unlawful.
You have noted all the flaws in the current system as unconstitutionally and unethically applied by the unruly GLC.
Everything you are proposing is already provided in LI 1296 while the new LI that you are so strenuously trying to lay in Parliament seeks to legalize the very things that you say are flawed.
I am baffled! Why will you want to legalize a flawed system when the current system provides for everything you espouse?
You have the power to cure all the flaws that you have noted by merely saying the GLC should enforce the law of the land. It is not good enough to just talk a good talk. You must align your actions and your talk.
Madam, use that power now!
‘Amend regulations before relaying them’
A number of other practitioners have expressed concerns about the L.I in its current form.
Speaking to Citi News, Kofi Bentil, who is the legal adviser to the Association of Law Students, a group that has called on Parliament to annul the regulation, welcomed the Attorney General’s call for the withdrawal of the LI, but urged that before it is re-laid, it should be amended to make legal education in the country more accessible.
“I wish the withdrawal was on substance. Be that as it may, there is a withdrawal. The AG said they should re-lay, what it suggests is that, they might want to go and correct the errors and try and bring it back. If they are going to bring it back, such a controversial L.I. and we are going to have to fight it all over again to have it removed, I think we all go through needless stress when the future is clear that we cannot limit professional law education to only logistical problems of the Ghana School of Law.”
“Best practice everywhere is that, they must expand and allow people who are qualified to take the professional law course. So we hope they do not re-lay it. We actually believe that in the process, there will be some discussions in the back, and I believe reasoning will prevail and that will prevent the relaying of this same L.I. But if it turns out that we cannot agree, the right place to go is the court,” he added.
Muntaka wants Regulations withdrawn
Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, last Thursday, also prayed Parliament to withdraw the Regulations.
According to him, the legislation, which has been in Parliament for over a month now, has not even been seen by some of the Members of Parliament as they have not received any copies.
What are these Regulations?.
The General Legal Council laid the Regulations in Parliament on December 22, 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 L.I. 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 was expected to become Law this month, February, 2018.
But the law students maintain that if the document is passed in its current form, it will restrict access to legal education.