New building at Turkeyen proposed for law school
Stabroek News
July 11, 2004

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The Law Department of the University of Guyana (UG) is proposing that the government put up a multi-purpose building at its Turkeyen Campus at a cost of about $20 million to house a law school.

This is an alternative proposal to the costly rehabilitation of the old Gaibank building and the university anticipates that with the goodwill of the Council of Legal Education (CLE) the pressing need of the numerous UG law graduates who cannot afford to attend the Hugh Wooding Law School and the commitment of the stakeholders that the school would be able to open in September 2005.

Attorney General Doodnauth Singh SC had told Stabroek News that the Cabinet refused to fund the rehabilitation of the old Gaibank building on Parade Street because it felt the $30 million price tag was too steep. Sources said that following the Cabinet's decision the Law Department came up with the alternative proposal.

It also suggests that employment of the teaching staff for the school should utilise a UG base to which is applied the current CLE formula, namely that the principal of the law school would be paid the same as the vice- chancellor and the senior tutors the same as professors.

Some of Guyana's most brilliant legal minds are members of the Law Department's staff and would likely teach at the law school. Among them are professors Peter Britton, SC, Keith Massiah SC and Aubrey Bishop and Rudy James, who heads the department.

Another proposal is that initially there should be shared library resources consisting of the holdings at the Turkeyen Campus and the High Court as well as the personal holdings of members of the legal community.

Cabinet's decision has put UG in an invidious position as a number of students from several Caricom states, relying on the government's statements, enrolled in Guyana's LLB programme in the expectation that they would have been able to read for the CLE's Certificate of Legal Education at the local law school.

Next year, seven foreign students are expected to graduate from the LLB programme; 11 others are expected to graduate the following year and another 20 the year after that. Sources said UG has received some 30 applications for admission this year, but a decision on them would have to await the determination on the alternative proposal for establishing the law school put up by UG.

These students, many of whom are sponsored by their governments, individually pay fees of US$4,000 per annum and their contribution to the income of the UG law programme is significant.

The Guyana government took the decision to set up the law school after it decided to cease subsidising the fees of Guyanese students studying for the Legal Education Certificate at the Hugh Wooding Law School. It was prompted too by the inability of an increasing number of the graduates of the UG's LL.B programme to pay the tuition fees at Hugh Wooding.

The proposal for the establishment of the law school received the blessing of the CLE and members of the legal profession both here and overseas donated a number of practitioners' texts. UG welcomed the decision as a further step in the development of legal education in Guyana.

As a result of the CLE blessing, graduates of the local law school would be able to practise before the courts in the other Caricom states. This would have also eased the problem of the foreign UG law graduates who are now barred by the CLE's zoning arrangements from gaining automatic entry to Hugh Wooding Law School.

The initial proposal was for the school to open its doors in 2003 but that date had been pushed back to this year.