Caricom Chairman to hold meeting on law students plight

Representatives of the Council of Legal Educa-tion (CLE) will meet with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman Ralph Gonsalves on July 31st to discuss the council’s decision to deny law graduates from Guyana and other non-UWI campuses admission into the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad.

The meeting, which is being held at the request of CLE Chairman Jacqueline Samuels-Brown on behalf of the council will take place in St. Vincent and   the Grenadines, where Gonsalves is Prime Minister. Stabroek News was informed of the coming meeting by Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, who says he will also be travelling to St. Vincent for the meeting.

During a meeting of CARICOM heads in March, the matter of the CLE’s decision was discussed, which resulted in a letter being dispatched from Gonsalves to the CLE.

In his letter, the Chairman asked the CLE to cancel a decision it made in February to discontinue an agreement with the University of Guyana (UG) which, in prior years, saw UG’s top 25 law graduates enjoy automatic entry into Hugh Wooding Law School to study for their Legal Education Certificates (LEC).

Gonsalves also called for a review of the provision of legal education in the Caribbean to ensure that the system was offering the best results. Nandlall had predicted a favourable outcome, since the request was made by CARICOM’s Chairman.

Instead, the CLE responded saying that UG students would be considered based in the availability of space at Hugh Wooding.

This is not much of a deviation from the CLE’s initial stance, since the availability of space at Hugh Wooding prompted its decision in the first place.

This time around though, the CLE said Hugh Wooding must first see how many law graduates from the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) three law faculties decide to exercise their right of automatic entry into Hugh Wooding. According to the CLE Act, UWI students have priority placement at the school.

Hugh Wooding has a capacity of under 200 but more than 300 students are currently enrolled at the law school. Further, several hundreds more are expected to apply this year. Samuels-Brown has said that the only resolution to the capacity issue is expansion of Hugh Wooding’s physical capacity and full-time staff complement.

According to Nandlall, the Government of Guyana would be willing to contribute to such an endeavour. Meanwhile, Presiden-tial Advisor on Gover-nance, Gail Teixeira, has said that giving Guyana its own law school has climbed higher on government’s list of priorities as a result of the impasse.

During an interview with Stabroek News in March, Teixeira said that a group (she declined to disclose the identities of the members) has been commissioned to look into the idea, including the cost associated with setting up a law school here.

She also said that the group received its mandate at the beginning of March.

Teixeira had said that the group was supposed to make a proposal to Cabinet at the end of its work. Teixeira could not be reached yesterday for an update.

 

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