The Independent Examinations Committee of the General Legal Council decided not to release the pass grade for this year’s law school entrance exams, which has angered the leadership of the National Association of Law Students.
The Independent Examinations Committee of the General Legal Council explained the admissions process and said that the Council will determine the minimum score required to enroll in the professional legal program this year.
The group claims in a statement that the ruling is unequivocal evidence that people should not have access to legal education.
Concerns about further admissions procedures were also voiced by the National Association of Law Students.
The Chairman of the Independent Examination Committee (IEC) of the General Legal Council issued a statement on July 8, 2022, that read in part: “The National Association of Law Students (NALS) wishes to register the general dissatisfaction of law students with aspects of the published arrangement/procedure for admission to the Professional Law Course of the Ghana School of Law for the 2022/2023 academic year (GLC). The following are these elements:
1. Admission determined in advance
NALS is extremely disappointed that GLC is determined to continue publishing lower success rates, regardless of the actual performance on the entrance exam, not because students perform poorly, but rather because the predetermined number of applicants to be admitted is 800 students out of 2,500 estimated applicants.
The passage 1072 captures this, 202 of the 2022 budget statement presented to Parliament by the Finance Ministry. As a government policy-intent, to admit only 32% of prospective qualified candidates seeking to continue their study of law is most appalling and clearly very inexcusable.
2. Inability or resistance to decentralize
Despite the backlog and the yearly increase in applicants, GLC continues to put off decentralizing the course to strong law faculties or other educational institutions, choosing instead to put its trust in a flawed entrance exam that, by itself, does nothing to address the crisis brought on by the Ghana School of Law’s inadequate infrastructure.
3. An unreported pass grade
The IEC/lack GLC’s or refusal to reveal or be clear regarding the minimum threshold mark candidates must achieve on their entrance exams in order for the GLC to award them admission this year has profoundly disappointed NALS. A 50 percent aggregated score has been established as the unhidden pass mark in the exams for the pre-election, election, and post-election years of 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the precedent-setting case of Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare v. Attorney-General & GLC (WRIT NO. J1/1/2016).
We, as law students, find this attempt to further muddle an already murky process worrisome, especially in light of the sad and wrong attempt to deny 499 successful applicants entrance to the Ghana School of Law through a grade variation last year.
4. Illegal activity
The NALS has noted, with shock, the return of the infamous undertaking that prospective applicants are required to sign as a condition precedent to submitting an application by 7th September 2022 to sit the pending examination scheduled for 23rd September 2022, in addition to the refusal to disclose the pass mark.
Each applicant is required to “undertake to accept without inquiry, the decision of the General Legal Council in respect of the published results…as final,” according to the application form. NALS observes that this form or undertaking is in clear violation of Articles 11(7), 23 and 296 of the Legal Profession (Professional and Post Call Law Course) Regulations 2018 (LI 2355) as modified by LI 2427 of the Constitution. It will further be recalled that the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court, declared this undertaking as null, void and of no effect in the case of Prince Ganaku & 4 ORS v GLC (Suit no HR/008/2020). As a body operating under the auspices of one of the most important legal institutions in the country and comprised of some of the most competent legal brains in the country, we are astounded by the IEC’s consistent and blatant disregard of the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, which jurisdiction has, till date, not been overturned on appeal.
5. False assertion
The allegation that “(GLC) has throughout the years created credible, rigorous and well-benchmarked processes and procedure for analyzing answer booklets and rechecking of same for all candidates before examination results are issued” is refuted by NALS in the aforementioned undertaking. It is trite realizing that even the most rigorous systems occasionally fail, assuming without acknowledging that this is the case. Every year since the GLC’s inception, flaws have been found in the systems established by the IEC. The limitless numbers of scripts that were successfully submitted for review at the Ghana School of Law in exchange for a cost of GH3000.00 at the time, which was only reduced to GH1500.00 in 2020 after years of protest, serve as an example of this.
The rate of successful applications would be lower than it is now if the GLC’s systems were impervious to failure. Furthermore, one must wonder why such a significant legal institution would go to such lengths, risking being accused of contempt of court in the process, to prevent students from having their scripts reviewed if, as the General Legal Council claims, the systems established under its auspices are so credible and rigorous.
The above additional administrative change and any other arbitrary actions that would only serve to inflate the pool of applicants under consideration for admission are not acceptable to NALS. As things stand, LL.B. holders are required to take an exam without being informed of the requirements to pass the exam. In addition, if we feel that we correctly answered the questions but there was a mistake, we will not be permitted to request a review of our scripts.
The General Legal Council will not abide by a court’s ruling in our favor if we file a lawsuit to seek remedy. Policymakers need to come to a position where they can honestly assess whether having unchecked authority to act without consequence is worthwhile damage they are doing to public trust in the systems that they themselves have put in place to ensure fairness. We state emphatically that all lawful options remain open to NALS.
Furthermore, as a public interest matter, all stakeholders have to be worried about, and take steps against, the admission process opacity and its annual agitations and public discomfort after published results. This has to stop. We take this opportunity to remind all stakeholders of their duty to act to end the impunity. Today, it is law students on the chopping block, tomorrow it will be your livelihoods as lawyers.
Where does it end? The time to take a stand against the arbitrariness of the General Legal Council is today. In the interim, NALS calls on the members of Parliament, the Right to Information Commission, Civil Society Organizations, particularly Faith based organizations and progressive public-spirited members of the Bar Association to wake up the conscience of the nation, particularly the membership of the GLC to do right and what is fair and transparent pursuant to Articles 25(2) and 21(1)(f) of the 1992 Constitution and Sections 13 and 18 of the Right to Information Act 2019 (Act 989).”