A string of alleged legal education examination paper leaks has sparked public anger, with many critics scorning the Ghana School of Law for doing either very little or nothing to protect the integrity of the process that evaluates the competence of Ghana’s aspiring lawyers.
However, research conducted by Citi News has revealed that the increasing public anger over the alleged leaks appears misdirected at the Ghana School of Law.
The general position of Ghana’s law is that the General Legal Council (GLC) is the primary institution that regulates legal education in Ghana.
However, the Independent Examination Committee (IEC), an institution created under the authority of Parliament in 2018, wields the exclusive mandate of conducting and managing both entrance examinations for admission into the Ghana School of Law and all internal exams taken by law students.
As Citi News found, the IEC, in the discharge of its mandate, is independent and not subject to the direction or control of the General Legal Council or the Ghana School of Law.
Exams conducted by the IEC: The Law
The Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018), L.I. 2355 details the functions of the IEC. Section 13(1) of the L.I. states: “(1) The Independent Examinations Committee shall administer (a) examinations for admission into the School; (b) examinations for qualification for enrolment; and (c) any other examination mandated by the Council.”
Under section 13(2), the L.I. 2355 makes it clear that “The Independent Examinations Committee shall (a) determine the venue and time for the conduct of the Qualifying Certificate Examination; and (b) within a reasonable period after the completion of the Qualifying Certificate Examination (i) arrange for the examination scripts to be marked, and (ii) submit the examination results to the Board through the Chief Justice.”
L.I. 2355 goes on to provide under section 13(3) that: “The Board shall, within two weeks after the receipt of the results, submit the results to the Council for consideration and approval.”
Besides the preceding provisions, L.I. 2355 also spells out the quality of persons who qualify to serve on the IEC, stating under section 12(1) that “The Council shall appoint an Independent Examinations Committee for the School.”
Section 12(2) provides that “A person is qualified to be appointed by the Council as a member of the Independent Examinations Committee if that person is (a) a Justice of the Superior Courts of Judicature or a retired Justice of the Superior Courts of Judicature; (b) a lawyer of not less than ten years standing at the Bar; (c) a legal academic who is at least of the level of a Senior Lecturer; or (d) a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana.”
IEC’s role explained
As one credible source explains:
“The IEC chooses its examiners who set the questions and those who mark. The IEC decides whether to take questions from the Ghana School of Law lecturers regarding internal examinations. The Ghana School of Law has nothing to do with examinations”.
Thus, as Citi News found, although lecturers of the Ghana School of Law often propose questions that sometimes form a pool of questions available to the IEC, the final say as to which should feature in a particular exam is reserved for the IEC.
Consequently, in its wisdom, the IEC can entirely ignore questions set by the lecturers or adopt them partly or in whole where necessary.
Another source adds, “The IEC is akin to the West African Examination Council, while the Ghana School of Law may be described as a Senior High School or Junior High School”. The source explains that the “IEC is an external examination body, while the GSL is a school that depends on IEC for its examination.”
Recent alleged exam leaks
In July 2022, the IEC rescheduled the Civil Procedure Exam for students of the Ghana School of law after reports that questions on the scheduled exam had leaked hours before students were to sit the exam.
The IEC’s decision came after recipients of the alleged leaked questions had published them widely across multiple social media platforms. Eventually, the IEC conducted the rescheduled Civil Procedure Exam on August 25, 2022.
More recently, on September 23, 2022, the IEC postponed this year’s entrance exam for candidates applying to pursue the professional law course at the Ghana School of Law after questions for the exam allegedly leaked overnight.
The exam was initially scheduled for 10 am, but the IEC eventually conducted the entrance exam at 1:30 pm after Citi News broke the news of the alleged leak.
In both instances, the IEC neither officially confirmed the alleged leaks nor publicly commented on widespread reports about the alleged leaks.
Ghana to get new lawyers
Meanwhile, the General Legal Council (GLC) has announced that it will “Call” newly qualified lawyers to the Ghana Bar on Friday, November 11, 2022.
The November date seems to break tradition, as the GLC typically calls freshly qualified lawyers to the Bar every year in early October.
A statement issued in Accra and signed by Justice Pamela A. Addo on September 26, 2022, did not explain the decision to hold the ‘Call Ceremony’ in November.
It only announced the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) as the venue for this year’s ceremony and set the time for the event’s start at 10:00.