2013 Barristers and Solicitors repudiate Legal Council
By Hassan G. Koroma
A bevy of young lawyers yesterday embarked on a move to repudiate the action of the Council of Legal Education in Sierra Leone to “invalidate” certificates issued to some students whom the Director of the Law School, Professor Tuboku Metzger had in November 2013 pronounced as “fit and proper persons” to be called to the Sierra Leone Bar.
A public notice issued by the Law School and signed by the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education says only 15 out of 91 students who sat to the Bar Final Examinations of 2012/13 school year “were correctly called to the Bar.”
The release further states that a new list will be published today comprising list of students who did not pass the 2013 examinations and were not called to the Bar, as well as those who “were incorrectly called to the Bar in November 2013.”
But the latter batch of “Barristers and Solicitors of the Superior Courts of Judicature” are in no mood to accept the decision of the Law School, which was apparently reached by a Committee constituted to investigate complaints against the School in respect of the authenticity of the 2012/2103 Bar Final results.
Dressed in full legal regalia, the group, through a spokesman issued a counter public notice containing a 15 point resolution, “to register our profound dissatisfaction, displeasure and disappoint in the Council in respect of the publication”, which effectively calls for their disbarment.
The counter public notice further states that they (2013 barristers) had been “certified worthy to have been called to the Bar after having fulfilled the requirements of the Legal Practitioners Act 2000.”
Thus, they say the reverse action by Council to certify only 15 students among 71 hitherto certified, was “absurd and procedurally flawed”, as the Chief Justice had prior to the Call Ceremony appointed Justice V.V. Thomas to conduct an investigation into allegations by a group of students dissatisfied with the results, and that the learned judge had “validated the said results.”
The aggrieved barristers described the act of Council as “incongruous and not provided by law” and that such was tantamount to Council discrediting itself and seventeen tutors who form the Board of Tutors, including Joseph F. Kamara, Commissioner of Anti-Corruption Commission, Professor H.M. Joko Smart ESq., and three eminent justices of the Appeal Court.
The group said they would reaffirm their commitments to the sacred legal oath they had taken, as well as abide by the rules and regulations of the legal profession, albeit determined to “exhaust all available grievance redress mechanisms within the structures of the government…”
The statements concludes that “we will not accommodate, tolerate or encourage any attempts by the Council to disrespect, discredit, discard and humiliate certified barristers and solicitors of the High Court of Sierra Leone,” as such would be considered “defamatory in nature.”
Meanwhile, prior to this current legal faux pas, some students of the Law School, led by one Umarr A.B. Sesay, had in series of correspondences to the Chief Justice and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh, proposed that the Call to the Bar Ceremony be postponed until the petition was considered, because “the desire to observe a ceremony should not supersede the interest of justice” and that “the repercussion of calling and debarring outweighs the inconvenience of deferring the Call to the Ceremony.”
However, the Council of Legal Education decided otherwise, even disregarding a plea from one of the tutors, Yada H. Williams, for the complaints to be “dispassionately” looked into, with the result being the biggest imbroglio in the twenty-five years history of the school.