‘Provisional registration’ could jeopardize the equivalency status of UG’s LLB degree

Dear Editor,

I write this letter with a sad heart, but I feel that if I don’t I may be guilty of not doing my utmost to ensure that a programme which I love, a programme which I and many others, such as the likes of the late great Professor JOF Haynes and many other legal stalwarts and luminaries, gave, as it were, their intellectual blood and sweat for, may very well be relegated to the dustbin of non-recognition.  If I don’t take the step I am taking now I am quite sure  that I will hear the haunting voice of the late great former Chancellor, who was also a pre-eminently distinguished jurist, gently chiding me from the grave with the words, “And young Eversley what did you do?”  He and I joined the then Department of Political Science and Law in late 1981 – he as a law professor and I as a young law lecturer.  He had just retired as Chancellor and I had just transferred from the Attorney-General’s Chambers after serving my internship under the tutelage of another great legal luminary, Dr Mohammed Shahabuddeen.

Would you believe it, when I first arrived at UG, the great man (Professor Haynes) and I shared the same office.  Such was the humility of the man.  Such was the state of the offices of the University of Guyana.  What a great honour that was for me.  I had an in-house tutor, as it were, who could give the great Lord Denning a run for his money and then some.  It was through his mentorship that I began to develop a deep love for the law.  I thank God for the rich heritage of such great sons of Guyana.

Do you know that very few programmes of UG have credible international or regional recognition? The law programme is one of them that does.  And here is the point of this letter.  This is intended as a public warning to the UG Council, Vice-Chancellor and Registrar that if they fail to follow my written recommendations which I gave to the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar in September, 2010, after I had just assumed office, to properly correct many breaches in the admissions process, they will seriously jeopardize the accreditation and status of equivalency of the UG  LLB degree.  The Registrar and the Vice-Chancellor had proposed to create an illegal category called ‘provisional registration.’ I don’t know if they had ever received any legal advice other than mine on this issue, but in the interest of transparency they ought to let the general university community and the public know whether they sought and received competent and independent legal advice, and if so what was the substance of that advice?  If they did not seek independent legal advice, then they must explain why not.  Is it that the opinion of the Registrar on this matter, that was conveyed to me in writing and which determined issues of third-party (students’) rights was intended as legal advice?  The Vice-Chancellor certainly felt himself bound to follow the Registrar’s advice, as he later wrote to me. I am at a loss to understand on what legal basis the Vice-Chancellor had assumed this, since he has the legal responsibility to determine that issue and not the Registrar.

It is my firm belief that this entire shameful fiasco occurred because we departed from our basic rule of eligibility that the head of the UG law programme must be a professor or senior lecturer, and one who is professionally qualified to practise law in Guyana.  I know this for a fact because I personally drafted the rules upon which the Department of Law was established and approved by the Academic Board.  Moreover, the uncontroverted practice since 1997, when the Department was established, up until 2009 was in strict compliance with this rule.  The very first Coordinator of the law programme, in 1981, was Professor JOF Haynes    No one has to question his eligibility – it is self-evident.  I am sure that he will be turning in his grave to have to witness this tragic situation.  I hereby call on the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar to redress this situation immediately.

Yours faithfully,
Professor Eversley
Head
UG Law Department

Editor’s note

We are sending a copy of this letter to Professor Lawrence Carrington, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana for any comment he might wish to make.

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