Response eagerly awaited from CLE on law students plight – AG

The Government of Guyana says it is eagerly awaiting a response from the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education on a request by Caricom Heads of Government for the admission of 25 2014 graduates from the UG law programme to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago.
The agreement that governed the automatic admission of the top 25 students from UG has expired and this had left this year’s batch of UG law students in limbo.

In a statement today, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said “We expect that the response will be favourable to the Guyanese graduands. Government remains ready, able and willing to work with the University of Guyana, the University of the West Indies, the Council of Legal Education and any other stakeholder to bring a speedy and long-term resolution to this matter.”

The full statement follows:
GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA

PRESS RELEASE

BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER OF LEGAL AFFAIRS

MOHABIR ANIL NANDLALL, MP

The Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recently concluded its 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting, held on the 10th-11th March, 2014, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. At that meeting, President Donald Ramotar raised a decision of the Executive Board of the Council of Legal Education (C.L.E), made in February 2014 in Bridgetown Barbados, which has serious implications for the access to the Law Schools and consequently admission to practice Law by persons other than graduates of the University of the West Indies, more particularly, graduates of the University of Guyana.

In essence, this decision of the Council will jeopardise the automatic admission of L.L.B graduands from the University of Guyana into the Hugh Wooding Law School, which has, hitherto, existed under a UWI/UG C.L.E Collaborative Agreement that guaranteed the top 25 UG graduands automatic entry to the Hugh Wooding Law School. This agreement expired and has not been renewed for the year 2014.

This matter was discussed at the aforementioned Inter-Sessional meeting of the Heads and it was resolved that the Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, the Honourable Dr.Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, write to the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education conveying the views and the decision of the Heads of Government on the matter.

On the 31st March, 2014, Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves dispatched a letter to Ms. Jacqueline Samuels-Browne, QC, the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education. The relevant portion of the said letter is set out hereunder.

“This matter is of grave concern to Heads of Government, as it effectively results in Guyanese students having no access to the Law Schools, notwithstanding that they would have entered the UG Programme in the expectation that at least the top 25 graduates were entitled to automatic admission. It is also of tremendous concern that in the current scenario, admission to the practice of Law in the CLE Member Countries is restricted to the graduates of one institution.

The implications of the decision by the Council and the Law Schools are far-reaching in terms of the provision of legal education services and access to the legal profession in the context of liberalisation of trade in services and in a Community which has established a Single Market and free movement of service providers and Skilled Nationals. The Conference considered this matter at its recent Inter-Sessional Meeting and-

1. Agreed that the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as Chair of the Conference, would write to the Chairperson of the Council of Legal Education to request that the Council accommodate the automatic admission of the top 25 Guyanese Graduates for the academic year 2014-2015;

2. Also noted the implications of the recent decision of the Council of Legal Education for admission, by examination, of graduates other than Guyanese from the University of Guyana and graduates from non-UWI LLB programmes in the Community;

3. Mandated the Council of Legal Education to complete a thorough review of legal education in the community before the next academic year to resolve the deeper issues concerning legal education including access and the role and function of the Council of Legal Education.

Accordingly, I write as Chair of the Conference, to request that the Council accommodate the automatic admission of the top 25 Guyanese Graduates for the academic year 2014-2015. I also draw to your attention that the Conference, representing the Heads of Government of the parties to the CLE Agreement, has mandated that the Council complete a thorough review of legal education in the Community before the next academic year to resolve the deeper issues concerning legal education, including access and the role and function of the Council of Legal Education.

I am aware that the Council is conscious of many of these issues and I am sure the review will result in positive developments for legal education and the practice of Law in the Community.”

The Government of Guyana eagerly awaits a response from the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education. We expect that the response will be favourable to the Guyanese graduands. Government remains ready, able and willing to work with the University of Guyana, the University of the West Indies, the Council of Legal Education and any other stakeholder to bring a speedy and long-term resolution to this matter.

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