The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has said Parliament has no power and authority to abolish pre-entry exams at the Law Development Centre (LDC).
Last week, the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs recommended to government the abolition of the exams for student entering law development centre saying it has limited the number of people qualifying in the legal profession.
Currently, it is a pre-requisite for all graduate lawyers entering LDC for their bar course to sit for pre -entry exams.
However, in a statement issued on Monday, ULS president Simon Peter Kinobe say the Advocates Act 2002 gives the Law Council the mandate to exercise through the Committee on Legal Education and Training general supervision and control over professional education in the country and not parliament.
“Therefore we are of the view that it is the mandate of the Law Council to regulate pre-entry exams, assess its relevance and determine its removal and not parliament,”Kinobe said in the statement.
“There are clearly spelt out procedures and processes for setting aside a law and a directive if parliament is not one of the said procedures.”
According to the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, the quality of lawyers cannot be determined by pre-entry exams but rather what they study at the Law Development Centre and hence the need to scrap the exams.
According to the minister for Defence, Adolf Mwesigye, there are many checks and balances in the country’s education system that can enable production of good lawyers.
He noted that for one to be enrolled for a law degree at university, they ought to have passed well at A-level and also at LDC itself, there are periodic assessments all meant to ensure that only those who have excelled are passed out as lawyers; hence no need for pre-entry exams.
However, Uganda Law Society says that the Advocates Act legal notices 12 of 2010 and 17 of 2007 require one to do an examination before being admitted to the bar course.
“It provides that the exam shall be based on knowledge obtained from the approved law degree, aptitude and the values the applicant attaches to the profession. These regulations were enacted for purposes of quality and standards control and are a law in force.”
“Therefore, the issue of pre-entry exams is a creature of law. We are therefore committed to supporting the Law Council and the Law Development Centre in any efforts taken to fulfil their mandate of regulating and standardising the provision of legal education in the country aimed at ensuring the passing out of quality lawyers,”Kinobe added.
Recently, the Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo, took to the High Court seeking to block the graduation ceremony of lawyers from the LDC faulting them of not including his name on the list of those to graduate after he failed exams.
Ssekikubo argued that LDC approved 312 students who had initially passed their subsequent Diploma in Legal Practice course but went ahead to confirm that 201 students were to sit for supplementary examinations noting that he felt there was discrimination on his side.
However, the court ruled that it could not block graduation because of one individual adding that it cannot allow to be seen as endorsing an illegality by ordering for Ssekikubo to be included on the graduation list.
Established in 1970, the Law Development Centre is currently the only institution in the country that provides post graduate diplomas in legal practice without which lawyers can’t represent litigants in court.