Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh has asked Parliament to go beyond passing a resolution to amend the Act that established the General Legal Council (GLC).
He said the GLC is a statutory body created by an Act of Parliament. Until the Act is amended, he said, the resolution made to the body regarding legal education in Ghana will not be binding.
Parliament on Friday October 29 resolved that all LLB students who obtained 50 per cent pass mark in the law school entrance examinations should be admitted.
The unanimous decision was arrived at by voice votes in Parliament.
Prof Prempeh who is also a Ghanaian lawyer stated on the Key Points on TV3/3FM Saturday October 30 with host Dzifa Bampoh that this resolution is not binding.
He said “I am delighted to see Parliament really weigh in on this matter. This is a long running battle and I think that it is good to have the political class weigh in on this way.
“Parliament makes decisions in a number of ways they can pass a bill, if signed it becomes an Act of Parliament. It also operates by passing resolutions. Some of the resolutions are binding, some are not binding.
“This is one of the resolutions in the latter category , it is not binding. But, it does registers Parliament’s collective disapproval of the way and manner in which a statutory body like the GLC has been handling this matter of access to legal education.”
He added “The GLC is a statutory body that was established by an Act of Parliament. It has been many years since the Act was passed.
“I will welcome another look at that Act. It is Parliament’s own Act, they can therefore also go beyond passing a resolution to actually amend the Act. These days, they have the right to initiate Private Members bill. I will think that this will be a very candidate for such a Bill.
“So, they should actually move beyond and put some bite behind their words. They can take another look at the legal profession Act or whichever act the GLC is established under and basically make the necessary amendments to that Act or enact a whole new law to regulate the legal profession. So I think it is a good first step.”
During the debate on the floor of the Huse on Friday October 29, Member of Parliament for Asawase, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak told the GLS and the Law school that the study of law in Ghana is not limited to a select few.
He said all Ghanaians are allowed to pursue legal education and education in general.
He said “I know that there are a lot of institutions in this country that are very conservatives but with the kind of problem we have as a country you cannot give a conservative position and expert to make progress . This idea, with the greatest respect to the former Chief Justice, that we won’t open up for anybody to become a lawyer.
“Who is anybody? Every Ghanaian matter just as your son and daughters. It is not the sons of lawyers and doctors or politicians or the influential that have the only right to be able to have access to any profession in this country. If they don’t know we must tell that they should go and admit everybody who has passed before the next academic year starts.
Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin, said the GLC and the Ghana School of Law would be acting in bad faith if they fail to heed the resolution passed by Parliament for all the LLB students who obtained the 50 per cent pass mark to be admitted into the law school.
“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 on the floor of the House.
“It is not too late to admit them because they have passed,” he added.
In a subsequent interview with TV3’s Komla Klutse, Mr Afenyo-Markin said “For anybody who may think that they may exercise a discretion not to respect our directive, I will say, that will be in bad faith for them to fail to respect this directive of Parliament.
“We have a responsibility and we are simply re-echoing what they themselves have said publicly. That is why we added that yes, the Learned Attorney General with oversight responsibility should ensure that they comply with the resolution passed by Parliament.
“If a body, recognized by law will refuse a resolution of parliament then I think that body does not believe in the rule of law and I don’t think that is what the General Legal Council and Ghana School of Law will do. It has the Chief Justice as its head and we believe that he as Chair will take this in good faith and quickly take steps to address this.
“I will not want to go into the issue of contempt, whether if they fail we would have to take another step. We know that the constitution is clear on failing to comply with parliamentary orders but I don’t think we will get there.”
This development emerged at a time the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court adjourned the case brought before it by some ‘failed’ LLB students against the General Legal Council (GLC) and the Attorney General (AG).
On Friday October 29, the court presided over by Justice Nicholas Mensah Abodakpi adjourned the case to November 9 after the Attorney General requested for a short adjournment to file certain processes.
“With the consent of the parties and their lawyers this case would be adjourned to Nov 9, 2021,” the judge is reported to have said.
The students are demanding that the court “further retrains the respondents from treating the applicants as students who failed the said examinations pending the final examination of this matter on grounds set forth and such further orders the court may deem fit.”
They also want a declaration that the failure of the 2nd respondent (the Attorney General) to reign in the 1st respondent for the conduct of the 1st Respondent as stated constitute a dereliction of the 2nd respondent’s duties under Act 32.