The Ghana School Of Lawlessness

Feature Article The Ghana School Of Lawlessness
AUG 17, 2015 LISTEN

This article will take a microscopic view of the present state of lawlessness at the Ghana School of Law (GSL) and suggest solutions towards bringing some sanity to this august institution established by Dr Kwame Nkrumah in 1958.

To start with, the present state of selection of prospective applicants wishing to pursue the Professional Law Course (PLC) is a farce! Maintaining the status quo is not an option!

Currently, holders of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from other Common Law jurisdictions have to undergo a two month course in Ghana Legal System and Constitutional Law; in the words of the cabal running the affairs of GSL, “to bring these LLB holders at par with their Ghanaian counterparts”. The fees payable for this bogus course alone is in the region of Ghc 3,000.00.

The application form alone for this course is Ghc 300.00. To purchase this form, one has to go and queue in a Bank to purchase a Banker's Draft payable to the Board of Legal Education. Take the cheque to the point of sale of the application forms to conclude the purchase of the form. After this nightmarish process, the tuition fee of Ghc 3,000.00 has to be paid via a Banker's Draft again. It takes Stanbic Bank, a minimum of 2 hours to process a client's Banker's Draft. What a waste of precious time!! The process of buying the application forms for the Ghana Legal System course, the entrance examination forms for the Professional Law Course (PLC) and payment of fees to the Ghana School of Law (GSL), uses the same outmoded and out of touch with reality and defiance of common logic methods of effecting payment!! There is no way the Ghana School of Law (GSL) can make a marked positive impact in the human resource development of Ghana with this current crop of anti-progress, anti-latest technology and backward looking officials at the helm of affairs of this institution!

The simple and basic solution to the above problem is to upload the application forms onto the Ghana School of Law (GSL) website for prospective applicants to download. In the first instance, this will save the institution the cost of printing the forms. Secondly, applicants will only have to make only one journey when applying to the institution; that is when submitting the forms, instead of the current 2 journeys. Online payment can be introduced to eliminate any travel to the institution altogether when applying. This will go a long way to reduce the vehicular traffic around the makola market in particular and Accra in general. The current process of buying and submitting a form alone to the Ghana School of Law (GSL) is so frustrating that, most applicants lose interest in the Legal Profession at this stage. If the Director and the Registrar are fearful of the latest technology, then they either have to resign or be sacked!! These two (2) individuals are enemies of progress!! The Registrar must learn how to talk to people in a polite manner. The Registrar talks to people as if the institution is a personal property he inherited from his ancestors!! To eliminate the arrogance of the Registrar, a Public Relations Officer (PRO) ought to be engaged by the institution.

Every year, not less than 250 LLB degree holders from other Common Law countries take part in the bogus course called the Ghana Legal System course. The Law School has no classroom for this course. The main campus located at makola has only 2 classrooms; one each for the Part I and Part II students of the Professional Law Course (PLC). Therefore, students on the Ghana Legal System course, have virtually no classroom.

To add insult to injury, the latest textbooks in the library dates back to the 1970's. Two lecturers are provided for this course, with no course material or hand outs provided by the Law School. The only thing that can be said to be 'taught' during this course is Re Akoto. The question is, is this case still relevant?

Apart from the Ghana Legal System course being used as a conduit pipe to line the pockets of some individuals at the Board of Legal Education and The General Legal Council, there is also the Post-Call course organised for licensed legal practitioners from other Common Law jurisdictions. The fees for this time wasting course is in the region of GB£6,000, which was payable in hard currency until the Bank of Ghana Regulations last year. This course lasts about six (6) months! The question is, what is the GSL doing with Great Britain Pounds Sterling? There is no subscription to online resources like Westlaw, LexisNexis etc, for students to access. A subscription to these online resources would have entailed the payment of the subscription fee in foreign currency.

In addition, students who are admitted to pursue the Professional Law Course (PLC) leading to award of the Barrister of Laws (BL) certificate, pay a fee of Ghc 8,000 for the two (2) year course. Apart from lecture notes, no other relevant material is provided by the GSL to aid students in their studies. There is no single computer in GSL library. In this modern era, where even some primary schools in the remotest parts of Ghana have computers, a so-called professional training institution cannot provide a single computer in its library at its main campus located at makola!

Furthermore, the institution doesn't also provide any practical training in the Legal Profession to students. The only lessons taught are the classroom teachings just like what pertains in the Universities. So, where is the “Professional Training” being provided by the GSL? After the two (2) years so-called Professional Law Course (PLC) at the GSL, students have the additional burden of finding a Lawyer with seven (7) experience to attach themselves to such a Lawyer for a stated duration to acquire the practical experience. It is clear that, the GSL has no role to play in the training of Lawyers!! This will become apparent below.

The GSL can be described as one of the most corrupt institutions in Ghana today! The Presidency or the Police Service doesn't come anywhere near the GSL when it comes to the extortion of money from members of the public (students) and siphoning State funds into private pockets. Therefore, those who claim to be carrying out surveys regarding corruption in the public sector of Ghana, should rephrase their questionnaires and include the Ghana School of Law and a true picture of corruption in Ghana can be seen.

Due to the secrecy that has shrouded the admission process into the GSL, the General Legal Council has set up an Independent Examinations Board (IEB) to oversee all examinations at the GSL. These include, the entrance examination, the Parts I and II examinations and Post-Call examinations, etc. The question is, which people are in charge of this IEB? It is no other people other than those who were already in charge of the discredited admissions board into the GSL. These are retired Supreme Court Justices whom the 1992 Constitution rightly asked to go home and have time with their grandchildren after having dedicated their services to mother Ghana. If these over seventy (70) years old individuals were still needed in the public sector, the 1992 Constitution would have made that crystal clear! They have retired on their salaries and should be contend with that instead of parading around as members of a so-called Independent Examinations Board!! The Law Profession in Ghana is not the personal property of any particular tribe, clan or family in Ghana! The old order must therefore be prepared to yield way otherwise there will be an explosion!! Those retired Supreme Court Justices meddling in the affairs of the GSL must learn from the Honourable Seth Yeboah Bimpong-Buta who was retired forcefully as Director of the GSL and took the brilliant step of reporting on the Supreme Court of Ghana cases, which has contributed enormously to Law Reporting in this country. This is a visionary who must be commended by all Ghanaians!

To borrow the words of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah when he described the 1946 Burns Constitution as “outmoded at birth”, one can equally describe the current process of admission into the GSL as outmoded at birth! The provisions of the 1946 Sir Alan Burns Constitution were retrogressive in character and the Gold Coast at that time had moved beyond the provisions of that constitution. In a similar vein, Ghana has moved beyond the archaic methods being used to admit students into the GSL!

To compound the woes of Ghanaians desirous of becoming Lawyers, a parcel of land acquired by the GSL near the University of Professional Studies (UPS) has not seen any effort to put a structure in place since its acquisition. A Law School is one of the simplest to set up. There is no need for a laboratory like what pertains in the study of Medicine. A wooden structure would have sufficed, but due to the entrenched graft at the GSL, they can't be bothered to put up a simple wooden classroom structure that would have enabled the GSL to increase the intake for the Professional Law Course (PLC) from the current 250 students per year to a reasonable figure of about a 1,000 students per year.

The current intake quota of 250 students per year into the GSL is not sustainable! This year (2015) alone, over 1,200 LLB holders took part in the entrance examination for admission into the GSL to pursue the Professional Law Course (PLC). Last year (2014), the figure was around 700 LLB graduates who took part in the entrance examination. It is clear that, due to the expansion of tertiary education, especially the provision of LLB programs by some private universities such as MountCrest, Central University College, etc, in short, points to a logical direction that, many more students are graduating year after year with the LLB degree. Therefore, the solution is not to put an artificial unsustainable ceiling on the number of students to be admitted into the GSL to pursue the Professional Law Course (PLC), but to put into practice, real, practical and sustainable solutions like those suggested in this article.

The Attorney-General's Department, which oversees the affairs of the GSL must as a matter of urgency submit a Bill to Parliament whose aim will be to deregularise the training of Lawyers in Ghana. The various tertiary institutions (mostly the universities) will undertake the provision of the Professional Law Course (PLC) theory aspect to would-be Lawyers and submit the list of candidates for the Bar Examinations to the IEB for the conduct of the final Professional Law Course Examinations. After all, the GSL does not provide any form of practical training to students, so the various faculties and departments of law at all the Universities can provide a much better Professional Law Course (PLC) training than the “something else” that is currently being provided at the GSL. The IEB will then act like what currently pertains at the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) regarding the BECE and WASSCE. The IEB will then have the duty of setting the questions and policing all examinations with regard to legal training in Ghana. With this system in place, the GSL will have no relevance in the provision of legal education in Ghana. A budgetary saving for the Honourable Minister of Finance!

The Minister of Finance, must as a matter of urgency instruct the Auditor General to send a team of forensic Auditors to Audit the accounts of the GSL immediately!! To ensure a transparent, independent Audit, PricewaterhouseCoopers must be sent in. So much is being collected and nothing of substance is being provided by this institution. If an application form for both the Ghana Legal System course and the entrance examination costs Ghc 300 each, and the Ghana Legal System course admits not less 250 students from other Common Law countries every year, this alone generates an income of Ghc 75,000. The fees for this useless two (2) month course is around Ghc 3,000; this generates an income of Ghc 7.5 million. Furthermore, this year alone, about 1,200 LLB degree holders bought the forms at Ghc 300 each and sat the entrance examination; this is an incredible income of Ghc 36 million. Please note, the two (2) years PLC course fees of Ghc 8,000 and the Post-Call course fees of GB£6,000 are all State funds, so ensure that, every pesewa and penny for our beloved country Ghana, are accounted for. After all, the NDC is founded on the noble ideas of “Probity and Accountability”. Therefore, probe them, and they will account!! Honourable Minister of Finance, act fast before this colossal amount of State funds finds its way into the private pockets of retired Supreme Court Justices (who have retired on salaries) and their serving cronies in the judiciary who are bent on milking Ghana to the bone marrow! His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama likened the finances of Ghana as being down to the bone, as all the flesh is gone! Now, this mafia operating within the General Legal Council, the Board of Legal Education and the Ghana School of Law are now sucking the marrow in the bone. These are funds that can help the government in its developmental agenda if channelled into the Consolidated Fund.

Nana Osei Kwame Esq
Tel: 0504449869
Email: [email protected]