ATTORNEY GENERAL and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, has claimed that People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Parliamentarian, Anil Nandlall, has written to the Council of Legal Education (CLE), seeking to prevent the establishment of the J.O.F Haynes Law School here.At a press conference on Wednesday, Williams said that the letter was sent by the former Attorney General ahead of his [Williams] visit to Jamaica, slated for Friday, when he will meet the executive committee of the council.
The Attorney General told reporters that Nandlall has “written the CLE maliciously seeking to prevent the establishment of the law school in Guyana.”
The Government of Guyana (GOG) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University College of the Caribbean and Law College of the Americas in a public-private partnership to establish a law school here. This partnership will see government owning 30 percent of shares and providing only the land to build the school, while the private interest will cover all the costs and hold the remaining 70 percent.
“I haven’t seen the letter, but I have been informed by the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education and Senior Counsel Reginald Amor of Trinidad and Tobago that he has done so. In fact…the matter would be addressed at the council meeting. It would not be a substantial agenda item, but it will come under any other business,” said Williams, who questioned Nandlall’s agenda.
He continued, “I am not sure what Mr Nandlall is trying to achieve; he must know that the Council years ago had given permission to establish a law school in Guyana, his government didn’t get it done. In fact, all the problems that our law graduates are facing right now at UG —lie on the PPP.”
With the establishment of the local law school, holders of a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree would be able to acquire their Legal Education Certificate (LEC) without travelling to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana was given permission to establish the school over two decades ago by the Caribbean Legal Education Accreditation body, but this was never done by successive governments.
The country has, however, over the years resorted to sending 25 of its LLB holders to the Trinidad-based Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS), while the others have been unable to practise law, because of their inability to acquire the LEC.
Just last year, the Attorney General brokered a deal to have the 25 Guyanese students accepted into the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) after inheriting a situation of uncertainty, as it relates to placement of those students.
“Guyanese had long suspected that Nandlall and his party, the PPP/C, had no interest in the welfare and well-being of our University of Guyana law graduates and the travails they suffer to enter and study at the Hugh Wooding Law School,” he said, noting that the “corrosive efforts of the opposition cannot [stop] an idea whose time has come,” the Attorney General said.
When contacted on Wednesday, Nandlall told the Guyana Chronicle that he has written to the CLE, but will withhold the contents of his letter until he sees what has been said by the Attorney General.
“I will wait until what he [the Attorney General] says is published tomorrow,” he told Guyana Chronicle briefly.
The existing agreement with the institution will expire next year and efforts are being made to have the law school completed the same year with the aim of providing a long-term solution to the problem. Additionally, many students who completed their LLBs have been unable to take up the first 25 spaces at Hugh Wooding, because of the substantial increase in fees at the institution.