Decision on establishing local law school yet to reach cabinet – AG

first_imgAs another year reaches with the debacle of the University of Guyana (UG) law students completing their legalBasil Williamsstudies at Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) in Trinidad still unresolved, the proposed alternative of a local law school is yet to reach Cabinet.Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams in a recent press conference noted that he had previously mentioned it was in the pipeline to initiate plans to establish a private/public local law school here in Guyana but pointed out, “the matter has not yet reached cabinet.”However, Minister Williams noted: “It doesn’t make sense to wait until it reaches cabinet to start exploring the pros and cons of establishing the local law school.”According to the AG: “There is no doubt that Guyanese students excel at the law programme available at UG and even the HWLS.” He noted that the entirety of the issue was due to the historical background surrounding the nature of law studies in the region.He highlighted that the government (whether past or present) does not have any privity of contract, as the matter was a triangular affair between UG, HWLS and Council of Legal Education (CLE).His noted that his administration had merely intervened to come to an amicable solution to the problem.According to the AG, one of the solutions of his intervention was the ability “to get Caricom to allow those students to be accepted in year one” and “In the second year I had to intervene again to get them to pay half the fees that were increased tremendously. Pay half upfront and then half before they graduate…so we need to have these things settled.”Minister Williams blamed the previous administration for cancelling the subsidising of contributions to HWLS and CLE but said when the matter involving contributions to the programme was first discussed in Cabinet, there was no funding for that exercise.In fact, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had said that contributions each territory makes is used to subsidise the tuition fees that students are required to pay. “This practice was stopped by Guyana 15 years ago and never affected the admission of Guyanese students into the Law School. All that it meant was that the Guyanese student no longer benefitted from a subsidised tuition fee and therefore, have been paying the full tuition fee since.”Nandlall had said further that his administration was able to facilitate a 10-year agreement towards the automatic entry of local law students to the HWLS following negotiations with his Government and that body, but noted that they exited office in 2015, before the agreement could be signed.“In the end, not only did we succeed in retaining the quota of 25 for Guyanese national graduates but were able to secure an additional 10 places for non-Guyanese national graduates of the said Law programme…I explained to him (Williams) that the hard work is finished and that all he needs to do is to ensure that the agreement which was being drafted by UG and UWI be signed and taken to the CLE for their signature because it is a tripartite agreement.That’s the issue; why after one year, the negotiated agreement has not been signed?” Nandlall had questioned.At the last council meeting, the Head of UG Law Department Ronald Singh indicated that they were ready to sign and make some concessions but the matter was sent to subcommittee by chairman of CLE Jacqueline Samuels-Brown but the status of this is still unknown.Williams had come in for some criticism after stating last year that establishing a law school locally was not a priority.Last year the 25 students were denied automatic entry to HWLS by CLE, which cited overcrowding of the facility. Following this, the calls for a local law school took on new urgency.President David Granger speaking on the matter, had highlighted that Jamaica, Trinidad and Bahamas all have their own law schools with Barbados setting up their own and it was up to Guyana to fully integrate itself into the tertiary system of the West Indies.last_img read more