14 June 2018

Liberia: Chief Justice Halts Free Entry for Over 20 Lawyers to Supreme Court Bar

Monrovia — Chief Justice Francis Korkpor Tuesday, June 10 announced that there will be no dispensation for any lawyer hoping to become a member of the Supreme Court Bar as the high court prepares to conduct test for 76 Attorneys-at-Law seeking Counselor status.

The 76 junior lawyers, all law school graduates who are to sit the entrance, were chosen after a recruitment process before the court following their five conservative years of practice at the lower courts across the country.

Under the Supreme Court laws, a dispensation is a privilege granted by the high court to a lawyer in order to prevent them from sitting the entrance.

But such attorney is declared Counselors-at-laws by the high court due to the jobs and positions they occupied in government.

For now, former police boss Chris Massaquoi and the present Director of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) Tolbert Nyenswa are the latest two to be granted dispensation by the Supreme Court.

The Communication Director of the Judiciary, Daryl Ambrose Nmah, made the disclosure of the Chief Justice's move to reporters Wednesday, June 14 on the ground of the Temple of Justice.

Director Nmah claimed that the essence of the Supreme Court entrance is to ensure that those sitting the test are qualified and have the requisite experience to plead their cases before the Supreme Court.

He said instead of the lawyers applying to sit the test they are calling on the Chief Justice for dispensation.

For now, Director Mah stated that with the 76 lawyers, who are due to sit the test, over 20 of them have applied to the office of the Chief Justice for dispensation.

"Dispensation is given to people because of their jobs assignment because they don't have the chance to be engaged in active practice," said Nmah, adding that the court has halted the dispensation process until a standard can be put into place as to how it will be granted.

The Bar test is administered every year by the Supreme Court through a special test committee appointed by the Chief Justice to several Attorneys -At-Law who strive to become a Counselor -At-Law.

It starts with a vetting process when each of the Attorneys represented by a lawyer is presented to the high court for scrutiny and later is declared qualified by the high court judges.

The next process after the vetting is sitting of the Supreme Court bar test and successful candidates are admitted to the Supreme Court Bar as a duly qualified Counselor.

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