Reform legal education, remove frustrations – Akufo-Addo tells stakeholders
President Akufo-Addo has made a clarion call on all stakeholders in the legal education and legal practice space in the country to do everything within their power to reform legal education in the nation and to remove all frustrations in the way of law students.
Addressing attendees of the opening ceremony of a four-day international conference on the future of legal education in Ghana/Africa and the launch of the University of Ghana School of Law Endowment Fund, held at the School of Law Conference Hall, today the 29th of November 2021, President Akufo-Addo said every effort must to made to ensure that the teaching and learning of the law in Ghana is given a free course while ensuring that the highest of standards are maintained.
“I am told that there was a dramatic surge in the interest in the legal profession and the study of the law in the aftermath of Ghana’s first ever full-blown presidential election petition in 2013 which was fully televised and which I was privileged to initiate.
“If the search for justice in the cause of law can motivate people to aspire to be lawyers, we should be able to maintain the momentum of these eager minds and not frustrate them,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The President observed that irrespective of the reforms that are being worked on currently ahead of the submission of a new General Legal Council and Legal Professions Bill to Parliament, it is important that the regulatory oversight of the General Legal Council is not compromised.
“I believe that even if the new legal professional act which is under consideration provides for a multiplicity of law schools to regulate the teaching of the professional examinations to break the monopoly of the General Legal Council in that regard, there can be no substitute for the General Legal Council being responsible for the maintenance of standards in the new system,” Akufo-Addo said.
“A reform of the system under which legal education currently operates is necessary to accommodate our current realities. The system we come with, will have to be guided by a strong element of sustainability,” President Akufo-Addo added.
AG on Fake Bill
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame in his speech at the ceremony indicated that to his “utter surprise and consternation”, he saw a document being spread around on social and mass media as the Attorney-General’s Legal Profession Bill.
“With unrestrained haste, various persons of high standing in society, including university professors, senior lawyers, etc. rushed to the media to make all manner of comments, virtually casting aspersions at the integrity of the Attorney-General for coming up with such a Bill.
“This, they did, without sparing even a split second to verify the accuracy of the information, even though, in truth and in fact, I am just a telephone call away from most of the commentators engaged in the media commentary.”
“May I take this opportunity to disclose that I have not come up with any new Legal Profession Bill. In point of fact, there has not been any Legal Profession Bill drafted by the Office of Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice this year.”
“No approval has been sought by me from Cabinet for a Legal Profession Bill to be sent to Parliament, and for that matter, no Legal Profession Bill has been submitted to Parliament,” the Attorney General clarified.
“Even the most basic step we undertake as part of the process for legislative drafting, stakeholder engagements, has not been performed for any Legal Profession Bill,” he added.
Legal Education Proposals
The Attorney General in his address suggested, “In the spirit of maintaining the distinction between the academic teaching faculties of law and the requirements for practical training, the General Legal Council ought to be given the power to licence a number of law schools for the professional training of lawyers.”
“These law schools will be required to undertake the professional programme in accordance with standards set by the General Legal Council. Upon the conclusion of the stipulated programme, the students will be required to sit for a Bar examination conducted by the GLC,” Dame stated.
“Towards this end, the mere possession of an LLB degree may not constitute automatic basis for entry to the GSL, just as in other jurisdictions where they require at least a specific grade point for admission into the Law School”.
“Very importantly, the standards ought to be objective and published for all to see. Like in most jurisdictions, the standards ought not to be static. They should be adjusted in response to the needs and circumstances of the times,” the Attorney General added.
By: Wilberforce A. Asare