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Wednesday 16 October 2019
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External law students can practise in TT

Appeal Court suspends order

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi

TT LAW students who were affected by a recent declaration of a High Court judge that section 15(IA) of the Legal Profession Act (LPA) is unconstitutional, and had hoped to be admitted to practise in November, will now be able to do so.

On Wednesday, Justice of Appeal Prakash Moosai suspended the July order of Justice Vasheist Kokaram with no conditions until the hearing of an expedited appeal in December.

It is now expected that those external law students who fulfilled all the requirements to be called to the bar in TT but were unable to do so because of Kokaram’s ruling, will be admitted to practise in November.

Kokaram’s orders affected law students who fulfilled all the requirements to be admitted to practise as the Registrar of the Supreme Court was restrained from processing applications of prospective attorneys for admissions later this year.

Moosai’s full suspension of the order now allows for the registrar to accept and process applications up until the Court of Appeal makes a final determination.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, at the ceremonial opening of the 2019/2020 law term on Monday, send he instructed his team of attorneys to seek an expedited hearing since the matter affected hundreds of law students.

The appeal is set for December 17.

In his ruling, Kokaram said section 15(IA) of the LPA discriminated against non-nationals who want to practise law in TT.

The effect of the judge’s ruling was that no one, including TT law students, could apply under section 15(1) of the LPA to be admitted to practise in TT without a legal education certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School until the law was amended by Parliament or the ruling was successfully appealed.

Section 15(1A) of the LPA allowed TT law students an alternative avenue to enter the profession, without the requirement of obtaining a legal education certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School if they underwent their six-month in-service training under a practising attorney, once they had the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) from London.

Kokaram’s ruling on section 15(1A) of the LPA was the result of the constitutional claim of Grenada-born, St Lucian prospective attorney Dianne Jhamilly Hadeed, who asked that he strike down the section on the basis that the law was discriminatory and placed an additional burden on a non-national to seek admission to the Hugh Wooding Law School, write an entrance examination, or wait at least additional years to be called to the bar in England and then seek to get their certificate of fitness before being admitted to the local bar.

Kokaram granted Hadeed the declarations she sought but stopped short of changing the law. That, he said, was for Parliament to do.

Hadeed sought to be admitted to the local bar and was in the process of completing her six-month in-service training, but was told by the Registrar of the High Court she could not be admitted.

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