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A SOLUTION SITTING ON A MISSING LINK: LAW SCHOOL CHALLENGE

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                                                                                                                                                     February 23, 2018

Ghana School of Law has been in the news for some few good years. Courtesy Professor Kwaku Asare. His activism: General Legal Council must be answerable to the laws of the land in discharging her statutory obligation of providing a sound legal education to would be lawyers on behalf of the Ghanaian people.  The Council must admit all qualified persons from the fourteen (14) law faculties scattered around the Republic of Ghana. The Council has no excuse not admitting the over three thousand (3000) qualified Ghanaians. The Councils entrance examination, independent examination board, and interview process in admitting few instead of the entire 3000 qualified persons is unconstitutional. He at least succeeds in securing Supreme Court‘s declaration to the extent that in absence of an Legislative Instrument validating entrance examination, inter alia, thereto, same is unconstitutional. Before the Council could succeed in securing this LI, the country is humbled by the Council’s students’ result. Out of 474 students, only 91 passed, 177 failed at least one or two papers and 206 failed in at least 3 papers. Thus only 91 out of 474 students are to be called to the bar for the year 2018 unless some changes ensued in the months to come before October 2018 when the calling would be had.

In the case of Federation of Youth Association of Ghana (No. 2) v. Public Universities of Ghana & Others [2011] 2 SCGLR 1081 @ 1088, the Supreme Court made this immortal judicial pronouncement through Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Adinyira:

“The case before this court demands an interpretation of the citizen’s right to education as enshrined in article 25 of the 1992 Constitution. The right to education has been a cause for civil rights activists in the history of many nations. It is a common saying that education is the key to development. Education is also the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.”

This is a belief this Center shares. The Center thus desires a sober look of the issues and then proceed with a concerted effort and responsible actor in bringing all the actors in resolving this obvious national challenge.

The Challenge:

In the face of national crisis, history’s guide is that a leadership with the right legitimacy must be found and be made to lead the people’s best efforts in abating the crisis and match forward with confidence. It is obvious, students and their leadership SRC see the General Legal Council, GLC, with her agent Independent Examination Board, IEB, as the problem. GLC has been golden by remaining silent. Thus the primary actors are defined. Each actor attempt to lead the resolution of the crisis has only be much more chaotic and anarchic.

In the search of this leadership and legitimacy, therefore, this Center turns to the laws of the land. The Legal Profession Act 1960, Act 32, with its accompanied LI comes handy.

It is provided in part under section 56 of Act 32 thus:

“Minister means the Minister to whom functions under this Act are assigned by the President.”

This Minister must be found. She is the answer to the challenge. She has the legitimacy of the trust to see to the functions under Act 32 are met.

It appears that the President, H.E. Nana Addo-Danquah Akufo-Addo, has not expressly assigned this statutory obligation to any specific Minister of State. Nonetheless, B.J. da Rocha in his article The Future of Professional Legal Education in Ghana (1 GHANA SCH. L.J. 1 2002) stated categorically that various Presidents since 1960s have just assumed the obligation under reference on the head of the Attorney-General. This is Problematic. The reason is obvious. Under section 1 and 1st Schedule of Act 32, the Attorney General is a member of the 13 member Council (the General Legal Council). Not only that, it is again provided under section 15 of the Act that the Attorney General is a member of the Six (6) Member Board. It is thus a special arrangement where the Minister who supposes to supervise the Council and or the Board ends up supervising herself. Maybe it is not novel situation. But it is certainly disables her from being able to legitimately rally the divided house to stand in the face crises. Again, one may even question and retort: quo warranto since there is no evidence that the President has actually assigned her that responsibility much against the express provision of the Act.

Now, notwithstanding this obvious mishaps of the law, and feeble nature of the facts as per the challenge, the Attorney General is not bereft from ceasing the occasion and righting the wrongs of the times. History with tradition and practice is on her side. And we are even much more fortified by the case of AKUFFO –ADDO and Others v. QUASHIE-IDUN and Others [1968] G.L.R. 667@673, where the highest court of the land at the time stated:

 “In our judgment, where a statue clearly enjoins a person to perform an act, he has to do it even if its performance is incompatible with the strictest rules of natural justice…. We are of the opinion that where the clear terms of a statute conflict with natural justice it is the latter which has to yield.”

 We are of the opinion that the Attorney General remains the answer to this crises. She ought to be summoned before Parliament to explain to the Ghanaian people the challenge and the solution to the challenge. This must be holistic. It must meet the entire broad issues of legal education in Ghana. It ought to address the 3000 qualified persons at home. It must resolve the mass failure of students in the law school. And the resolution must involve the real actors in the web. In doing this, let us remember these two notable quotes about law schools and legal education of our time:

“It’s hard to model emotional intelligence if you don’t have any. Law schools will need to change whom they hire.”

Dorothy Brown, associate vice provost and professor of law at Emory Law School, discussing how law schools need to broaden their approach to training young lawyers.

 

“This is a great time to be a legal education reformer. I’ve been singing this tune for 30 years. This is the moment when everybody’s listening. I’m a really happy guy right now.”

James Moliterno, professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law and author of The American Legal Profession in Crisis (affiliate link), sounding optimistic notes about the prospects for true reform within the legal academy.

Now we see the missing link. It is who to offer the needed leadership at this time of our crises. The person is the Attorney General of the Republic or the President of the land must answer. It is not about everybody talking. It is about everybody listening to the one we must all hear talk. And this Center repeats thus: it is the Attorney General. Let us be guided and proceed igitur.

Solomon Osei Fosu

(Executive Director)

Center for Constitutional Order

0236800214

 

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