MPs Want Amendment of Advocacy Act Expedited

Members of Parliament sitting on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have recommended for the immediate amendment of the Advocacy Act in view of abolishing pre-entry exams to the Bar Course at Law Development Centre (LDC).
Law Development Centre Graduates recently. Photo by The Observer.

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Members of Parliament sitting on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have recommended for the immediate amendment of the Advocacy Act in view of abolishing pre-entry exams to the Bar Course at Law Development Centre (LDC).    

This is in a report that was presented by the Committee Chairperson Jacob Oboth to the plenary sitting and later approved in a session chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.      

Oboth said that his committee wants Section 6 of the Advocacy Act which gives the Law Council mandate to regulate the legal training and to determine qualifications for a Bar Course.    

He accused the Law Council of working with private lawyers to mint money from unsuspecting students who want to access legal training. He said that the lawyers are running bureaus for examinations.    

Oboth said that the pre-entry exams have out-lived its usefulness and that it is currently more commercial than academic process of screening and sieving those who would undertake legal training in law. He said other countries like Ghana and Kenya have already out-lawed the exams.

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Oboth revealed that his committee resolved that pre-entry exams should be outlawed by August 2019 and that if government delays to bring the required amendment, his committee is already set to table a Private Members' Bill through him so that the matter is brought to an end.    

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On several occasions in the past, Parliament called for the abolishment of the pre-entry exams, especially for the law course. Last year, it was resolved to end the practice of students doing pre-entry exams for admission to the Bar course, in an effort to increase access to legal practice in the country.  

However, the policy has continued since it is supported by legal provisions under the Advocacy Act.  

Different sections of the public argue that the pre-entry examinations are not a guarantee of quality assurance and recently MPs sitting on the Education Committee Chaired by Paliisa County MP Jacob Opolot argued that the policy has increased cases of corruption in universities and that money is extorted from students in different parts of Kampala City by people who purport to sell exams to them.  

The Education Committee also in its meeting last week with Education Ministry officials and those from the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) said that the pre-entry exams undermine the mandate and results issued by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB).  

Universities which include Makerere University, Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Law Development Centre (LDC) introduced pre-entry exams for students intending to pursue a Bachelor of Laws and for graduates of law at LDC.

Meanwhile, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has recommended for additional funding to the Law Development Centre (LDC). Oboth says that institutions under the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) continue to receive inadequate funds. 

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LDC has been allocated a budget of Shillings 15.3 billion Shillings in the coming financial year.

This is compared to the 18.4 billion shillings budget provided to the LDC in the current financial year.

“The Committee Recommends that an additional Shillings 2.33 billion to be provided to the LDC recurrent budget to enable the Centre continue with the activities in order to collect more revenues to government,” reads part of the committee report.  

Oboth noted that the abolition of appropriation of Non-Tax Revenue (NTR) had implications yet resources were being utilized for training administrative officers in the upcountry study centres, meet costs of trainers and allowances for lecturers who teach on the Bar Course. 

He said that the recurrent cost that the NTR has been meeting the shortfall of Shillings 2.33 billion to meet the above activities. Oboth said that full funding of this will enable LDC collect Shillings 10 billion in NTR to Government.  

The committee also recommends an addition 34 billion shillings to be provided to LDC recurrent budget for the coming financial year to equip and fully operationalize the Mbarara Student Centre.  

The LDC Mbarara Campus became operational on the 1st September 2018 with LDC allocated 10 acres by Mbarara University at the main campus and construction programmed in financial year 2020/2021.  

“The Mbarara Campus has been allocated Shillings 1 billion although inadequate to run smoothly in terms of teaching aids, reference materials, furniture and computers. This provision leaves a funding gap of Shillings 4.9 billion to run Mbarara study centre during the financial year 2019/2020,” said Oboth.  

Also recommended is an additional funding of 6 billion in the next financial year and another 6 billion shillings in financial year 2020/2021 to the development budget of LDC to implement the second phase of constructing a Multi-storied block.

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