LET THE SC JUDGMENT ON ADMISSION TO THE GHANA SCHOOL OF LAW TAKE IMMEDIATE EFFECT
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We the bona fide citizens of Ghana and aspiring lawyers, with Bachelor of Laws degrees (LL.B) from various approved universities in Ghana wish to express our immense delight at the decision of your Honourable Court (the Supreme Court) on June 22, 2017 to right the wrongs and injustice of the last 5 years with respect to admission to the Professional Law Course at the Ghana School of Law.
In as much as the entire nation hails and celebrates the insightful decision by the Highest Court of our land, for affirming due process and rule of law, we the LL.B degree holders are at pains to observe that the Court did not recognize our right to equality and fair treatment under the Constitution. The succeeding paragraphs outline the basis for our conclusion and our urgent plea to you to make the judgment take effect immediately and not defer the implementation to 2018. The said deferral will further cause us grave injustice and unreasonableness.
1. We refer to the June 22, 2017 judgment of the Supreme Court with Suit No: j1/1/2016 in the matter of Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare (Plaintiff) vs. Attorney-General & General Legal Council (Defendants). In the said judgment, the Apex Court patently affirmed that the Independent Examinations Board, the entrance examinations, and the accompanying interviews, prior to admission are all alien to the laws regulating legal education in Ghana. It was further stated that the exercise of such powers by the General Legal Council to control admission to the Ghana School of Law, violates the Constitution.
2. We note in particular that their Lordships, in an attempt to correct the wrong, were careful not to negatively affect the rights of those who had already been victims of the illegal admission system. The Court observed thus: To make an order annulling admissions founded upon the examination and interview that such students were compelled to take at the direction of the Council would result in occasioning uncommon inconvenience and hardship to them and result in a miscarriage of justice.”
The authority on which the Court proceeded was “…the case of In re Spectrum Ltd (In Liquidation)  UKHL 41, para 40, Nichols LJ faced with a similar situation observed in a persuasive manner when he said: “there could be circumstances in this country where prospective overruling would be necessary to serve the underlying objective of the courts of this country: to administer justice fairly and in accordance with the law.” (Quoted in the judgment).
The Apex Court stated, “…we are faced with a similar situation that requires that prospective overruling be preferred in the matter herein in order as Nichols LJ put it in the course of the In re Spectrum case (supra) to avoid a decision which: “would have such gravely unfair and disruptive consequences for past transactions or happenings that this House would be compelled to depart from normal principles.””
According to the Court, “… the path of prospectivity would better serve the needs of justice as we are authorised to do by Article 2 (2) of the constitution. And in seeking to adopt this approach, we are not altogether without precedent in the jurisdiction. As was sated in the preceding paragraph, we adopted this course in Abu Ramadan (No 2) supra) for the purpose of not depriving voters of their registration under a provision of the law which was struck down in a previous decision when a challenge was mounted to the validity of persons who had utilized national health insurance cards to register. A similar course was adopted by us in the case of Martin Kpebu v Attorney General in an unreported judgment of the court in Suit Number J1/13/2015 dated 05 May 2016 wherein we struck down certain restrictions on the grant of bail by courts contained in the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure Act) on the ground of their inconsistency with the constitution.”
3. While we agree with the court that it is fair and it would better serve the interest of justice for its orders to be prospective and not retrospective, it is our respectful view that the deferral of the effect of its orders to 2018, thereby allowing the illegality to fester, is grossly unfair and discriminatory to us (LL.B graduates with rights under the existing law to be granted direct admission to the Professional Law Course.) In the authorities cited, the Courts were careful not to affect the past unlawful actions. However, it appears prospective actions were immediately affected by the judgments. Specifically, in the case of Abu Ramadan No.2, the Court directed the Electoral Commission to delete all names of voters who had registered with the NHIS card as a form of identification and give them the opportunity to be re-registered. This was done without regard to the logistical challenges it was going to create for the Electoral Commission. The court did not defer the application of this order to the next election in 2020. It was immediate.
Similarly, in the Martin Kpebu case, the Court did not defer the prospective effect of its judgment to a particular date. It was with immediate effect from the date of the judgment.
4. In respect of the admission guidelines issued by the General Legal Council for the 2017 entrance examination, the Court had this to say: “Considering the existence of LI 1296, the new guidelines for admission are clearly unfair and constitute an imposition as persons to whom Regulations 2 and 3 of LI 1296 apply have no option than to yield to the directions if they seek to be enrolled at the Ghana Bar. Since there were existing regulations before the new requirements were introduced, the Council ought to have acted fairly in compliance with the obligation imposed on administrative bodies in Article 23 of the constitution by which it is provided as follows: “Administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts shall have the right to seek redress before a court or other tribunal.””
Your Ladyship, we consider it grossly unfair and discriminatory for the Honourable Court to permit the illegal and unconstitutional entrance examination and interviews to be conducted in 2017. This is not only unlawful, also it is discriminatory. It amounts to the Honourable court respecting and protecting the rights of some category of citizens while allowing the rights of another category of citizens to be abused by the illegal imposition. It is asking us, as aspiring lawyers to engage in an unconstitutional act.
Your Ladyship, we admit that it is still within the powers of the Apex Court under Article 2 (2) of the Constitution to “…make such orders and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for giving effect, or enabling effect to be given, to the declaration made.” This power we do not seek to question. However, in so exercising such an awesome power, it is our respectful view that the Court should be equal and fair to all citizens. We respectfully submit that the Court has not done so in this particular case, necessitating this petition to your High Office for justice.
We plead with her Ladyship to restore the faith we have in the Council by taking immediate steps to ensure that the Council does not engage in additional violations of the Constitution by administering the impending unlawful examination and interviews.
PROPOSED SOLUTION TO THE IMPASSE
Respectfully, as our suggested solution to the current impasse, we believe the following could be helpful:
1. As already suggested by some respected citizens such as Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare, the General Legal Council should give the existing public universities with law faculties such as University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, University of Professional Studies, Accra and University of Cape Coast the license to run the academic or classroom component of the Professional Law Course. Consequently, admission to this could be based on the already existing degree classifications. This could be restricted to a minimum of Second Class Lower from any of the approved Law Faculties in the country. This has the potential of immediately solving all space related constraints of the Ghana School of Law.
2. The Independent Examination Body which is currently illegal, could be regularized and mandated by the General Legal Council to conduct the final Bar Examination prior to the Call to the Ghana Bar.
3. In our view, the above proposed arrangement would better serve the interest of Ghana because it is certain, fair, and reasonable, compared to the suggested quota system which in likely to be met with unfairness and unreasonability.
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