Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Lawyer takes legal education council to court over law school rejection

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2015 | 9:09 AMBarbara Gayle Justice Coordinator

A lawyer has taken the Council of Legal Education, which runs the Norman Manley Law School, to the Supreme Court to challenge its refusal to admit him to the law school to pursue the six-month course to qualify to practice law in Jamaica.

Owen Roach is contending that the law degree he obtained in 2001 from Middlesex University is of equivalent rating to the LLB offered at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Lawyers who are already called to the bar in the UK or a Commonwealth country are required to do a six-month programme before they can be allowed to practice law in Jamaica.

Roach is seeking leave to go to the Judicial Review Court to quash the council's decision not to admit him to Norman Manley for the September 2015 academic year.

The application is set for hearing on October 13.

He is also seeking an expedited hearing for judicial review.

Roach, who is a barrister residing in London, obtained a joint double major Bachelor’s degree in law and politics ‎at the Middlesex University in the United Kingdom.

He is a citizen of Montserrat and therefore a citizen of CARICOM and is expected to apply to the Law School in Jamaica, he states in court documents.

Roach, who is being represented by attorney Seymour Stewart, is seeking an order of certiorari to quash the council's decision that his degree is not of equivalent rating to the LL.B offered at the UWI.

He is also seeking a declaration that the said degree is of equivalent rating with the LL.B offered by the UWI and that he is ‎eligible for admission into the Law School.

Roach is asking the court to grant him an order of mandamus to compel the respondent to process his application for the academic year to commence in September 2015 and treat it as an application for the academic year to commence in September 2016.

The court will also be asked to grant declarations that the council's decision to refuse Roach's application to the Law School was irrational and unreasonable.

Roach is asking the court to find that the decision of the Council of Legal Education to reject his application is disproportionate to its objective to maintain its reputation and integrity.

Roach will be seeking permission that he be allowed to take part in the application by way of live video link or any other electronic means by which he may be seen and heard.

He contends that the council failed to take into account the fact that Middlesex University is listed as one of the conferring institutions mentioned at appendix 8 of the 1996 Report of the Review Committee on Legal Education in the Caribbean.‎

According to Roach, the council has failed to recognise that there is no essential or material difference between the academic standard required of him to be called to the Bar in England & Wales and the Eastern Caribbean and that in Jamaica.

He said the council has failed to take into account the fact that the General Council of the Bar in England & Wales has a similar system of assessing the core content of law degrees before admitting applicants to the bar in England & Wales.

Roach disclosed that he tried to resolve the matter with the council since March 2015 when the adverse decision was made but without success and there is no alternative form of redress.