MPs have approved the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee recommendation to scrap pre-entry examinations for admission to the bar course at Law Development Center.
MPs argue that the scraping of the pre-entry examinations would give chance to more students to train in the legal practice and enable Ugandans easy access to legal services.
Committee chairperson Jacob Oboth Oboth (West Budama south) said The quality of lawyers is not determined at pre-entry but at the centre.
Oboth told the House that the committee held several meetings and its interactions with LDC authorities and they indicated no rejection to the proposal to stop pre-entry examinations.
One top city lawyer who spoke to TheUgandan on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media said it was time to break the LDC cartel and let Ugandans get wide and cheaper access to legal services.
“It’s inherently unfair to take someone’s money and time for four years then deny them the opportunity to pursue their life’s calling based on a three hour exam,” the lawyer revealed. “I know so many capable brilliant law students who have failed those silly exams yet they would make great lawyers so is legal practice passing one exam or it is a lifetime of studying law and applying to real life.”
“The situation is very bad. And we have built the belief that without LDC one is not fit enough to do any legal work. We must do something about it.”
Stakeholders are also calling for setting up of more LDC centres across Uganda to cater for the rest of the country.
“What we need is regional LDC centres where flexible study options and most importantly competition to the cabal that is LDC are accessible.”
“Let us be like the United Kingdom where you can do any undergraduate degree then apply to do the bar course and a law degree is nice to have but not a prerequisite.”
According to Defense minister Adolf Mwesige, there were sufficient checks and balances in the system before the introduction of the pre-entry examinations, which helped the legal system, produce good lawyers, he supported removing the pre-entry exams.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Kahinda Otafiire areed that the exams were unfair.
Although some MPs including Bududa Woman MP Justine Khainza, Bukooli North MP Gaster Mugoya and Aruu MP Odonga Otto among others were against the scrapping of the examinations, speaker Rebecca Kadaga put a question and members adopted the committee report.
In a landmark ruling, the High Court of Kenya recently quashed regulations earlier passed requiring law school graduates to sit pre entry exams before being admitted to the bar course. The Court has also ordered that all students who previously paid for the pre entries be refunded.
The ruling, delivered by Justice Chacha Mwita, followed a suit filed by a University of Nairobi graduate Mr. Adrian Kamotho Njenga who challenged the validity of Regulation 6 of Kenya’s Advocates Training Programme (ATP) that required law graduates to sit pre entry exams before joining Kenya’s version of our LDC for the bar course. All students who graduate with a law degree are required to do the one-year bar course before they can practice as advocates.
According to the KSL Act, a person shall as of right be admitted to the law School if he/she passed the relevant examination of any recognized university in Kenya holds or has become eligible for the conferment of the Bachelor of Laws Degree (LL.B) from that university.
In a case filed by a one Male Mabirizi recently, Justice Yasin Nyanzi of the Uganda High Court declined to quash a similar requirement set by the Law Development Center that obliges law graduates to sit and pass pre-entry exams before joining LDC.