An applicant has dragged the Law Development Centre to High Court Civil Division for declining to enroll for the bar course on grounds that he studied his bachelor’s degree online.
Through his lawyers of Centre for Legal Aid, 30-year- Daniel Adyera contends that he studied his Bachelors of Laws-LLB from the University of London in 2014 through Long Distance learning and obtained a second-class upper degree.
He, however, says that LDC has refused to admit him on grounds that he studied through long-distance learning.
To enroll as an advocate in Uganda, one needs to study the bar course at LDC leading to a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.
In his petition, Adyera notes that LDC is the sole statutory provider of the Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, which is the paramount qualification for enrolment as an Advocate in Courts of Judicature in Uganda.
He argues that the government, which is the second respondent to the petition, has a duty to prescribe the regulations for the professional requirements for admission to the post-graduate Bar Course and qualifications necessary for the eligibility for enrolment as an Advocate.
The petitioner contends that the respondents have resorted to an arbitrary and unusual practice to exclude some holders of law degrees obtained from a common law jurisdiction or through open and distance learning alias online/remote learning.
“The first respondent has wrongfully maintained the non “prescribed condition of requiring applicants holding a degree in law obtained from a university or institution in a foreign country operating the common law system to first seek and attach a clearance letter from the Law Council to one’s application letter for admission into the Bar Course”, reads the petition in part.
Adding that “The second respondent’s (Attorney General) Law Council has wrongfully condoned the first respondent’s (LDC) impugned admission criteria, which has the unjustified and unjustifiable effect of marginalizing holders of LLB qualifications obtained from common law jurisdictions abroad or through open distance online and remote learning.
Adyera further alleges that the government’s Law Council has delayed or failed to grant him a clearance letter for his admission and subjected him to further to another delay, saying it will have a meeting with the National Council for Higher Education to seek expert guidance to make assessment and recognition of professional qualifications obtained through long-distance learning.
This, Adyera says, was supposed to be done ten days from the application deadline for the 2021/2022 Bar Course intake, which was set for September 10th, 2021. Adyera, who has tried to get admission since 2019 and failed, further notes that his 2021/2022 intake admission was further complicated when the Law Council subjected him to unreasonable delay.
This time around by requiring him at the eleventh hour to contact an authorized official of the University of London, and seek and obtain certified copies of his academic documents within ten days prior to the deadline, which had to be certified by the British Council.
As such, Adyera contends that the respondents have jointly maintained a discriminatory practice that only allows some privileged and well-connected holders of foreign common law LLB degrees to join the Bar Course whilst excluding him for unclear reasons.
Adyera now wants the High Court to declare that the refusal by the LDC to enroll in the bar course for nearly three years is illegal and unjustifiable. He also wants the high court to order the respondents to pay him damages and costs for the inconveniences caused to him.
The National Council for Higher Education recently cleared the Law Development Centre and law-teaching universities in Uganda to conduct their academic Programmes through long-distance learning using the Open, Distance, and e-Learning (ODeL) model to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
In May 2020, the High Court presided over by Lady Justice Esta Nambayo made a landmark decision to the effect that students who graduate with a Diploma in Legal Practice from countries that do not exercise common law are not supposed to enroll as Advocates in Uganda.
Justice Musa Ssekaana has issued hearing notices requiring LDC and the Attorney General to prepare their defense and appear before him on February 10th, 2022 for the hearing of Adyera’s petition.