Sunday, 14 July

You’ve no power to order GLC to admit 499 law school applicants – AG to Parliament

Godfred Dame

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice has said parliament has no power to direct the General Legal Council (GLC) to admit some 499 candidates who sat and passed the Ghana Law School entrance examination.

The 499 students were refused admission despite scoring 50 percent which is the required pass mark.

The National Association of Law Students (NALS) presented a petition to the legislature on the aggrieved 499 law students, who did not gain admission into the Ghana School of Law despite scoring more than the usual 50% pass-mark in the 2021 entrance exam.

The petition, among other things, pleaded with parliament to intervene and ask the General Legal Council and the management of the law school to immediately reverse their decision and admit the students.

On Friday, 29 October 2021, Parliament resoundingly voted in support of a motion filed by Majority Chief Whip Alexander Afenyo-Markin to compel the GLC to admit all students who had passed the entrance exams per the advertised rules of the examination.

The Minority Chief Whip, Mr Muntaka Mubarak, seconded the motion.

Following the resounding vote in support of the motion, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Osei-Owusu, directed the GLC to “proceed and admit all the students who passed in accordance with the advertised rules of the examination.”

But responding to Parliament’s directive, the attorney General and minister of justice Godfred Dame in a stamen said “Whilst recognising the general legislative powers of parliament in Ghana, except as have been circumscribed by the constitution, I am constrained to advise that parliament is devoid of a power through the use of Parliamentary resolution, to control the process of admission into the Ghana School of Law. The mode of exercising legislative power enshrined in article 106 of the constitution does not admit of resolutions.”

The statement said: “In accordance with section 13(1)(e) and (f) of the Legal Professional Act, 1960 (Act 32), the power to regulate admission of students to pursue courses of instruction leading to qualification as lawyers and to hold examinations which may include preliminary, intermediate and final examinations has been vested in the General Legal Council.”

According to the AG, it is rather the executive that has the right to direct the GLC to admit the 499 applicants and not the legislature.

“It is correct that section 1(5) of Act 32 stipulates thus ‘the Council shall in the performance of their functions comply with any general directions given by the minister’. In my respectful opinion, this provision underscores the capacity of the Executive not the legislature, through the Minister responsible for the General Legal Council i.e the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, to direct and advise the council on major matters of national importance.”

Source: Mensah