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Panic as term for Council for Legal Education expires

By Standard Reporter | Published Wed, January 18th 2017 at 14:00, Updated January 18th 2017 at 14:11 GMT +3
This means that crisis is looming as the Council must be fully constituted to regulate legal education and training offered in Kenya.PHOTO: COURTESY

Panic has gripped the Council for Legal Education as term of the board expires next month.

The current office was appointed for a period of four years, which lapses in the next three weeks.

This means that crisis is looming as the Council must be fully constituted to regulate legal education and training offered in Kenya.

As time draws, the curtains are also falling on CLE chairman Fred Ojiambo.

Attorney General Githu Muigai appointed Ojiambo on February 8, 2013, through a gazette notice number 2241.

President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Philip Nzamba Kitonga non-executive chairperson of the CLE for a period of three years, with effect from June 24, 2016.

Other members whose terms will end are Joel Ngugi, who represents the Chief justice, Christine Agimba (represents Attorney General) and Indenje Wanyama (represents Treasury).

Also to leave the Council are Eric Mutua, Judy Thongori, Kenneth Akide and John Chebii (represents public universities).

The appointment of Rachael Omamo was revoked in 2013 and her place taken over by Getrudes Angote (represents LSK).

The contract of the Chief Executive Officer, Kulundu Bitonye, is also expected to come to an end mid this year.

Sometime last year, the government gave a notice to constitute CLE board after President Uhuru signed into law (2014) the amendments to the Legal Education Act, 2012.

The amendments made the president the appointing authority of the Council chairperson, a function previously performed by the Attorney General.

The new law also reduced representation of persons nominated by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) from four to two and expanded membership to the Council to include one slot each for both public and private universities.

It however emerged yesterday that weeks after public and private universities forwarded names of nominees, they are yet to be appointed.

And in a letter dated February 23, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua notified CLE Chief Executive Officer Prof Bitonye that the term of the board has been reduced to three years.

“By way of this letter you are hereby notified that pursuant to Section 4 of the Legal Education Act as duly amended…the tenure of the current Council for Legal Education is capped to three years from the previous four years,” reads the letter.

The letter addressed to Bitonye further said: “The new board shall be reconstituted in due course.”

With only three weeks to the expiry of the term, panic has gripped the crucial institution, with fears critical regulatory decisions will stall.

Section 8 (1) of the Act says the body is mandated to license legal education providers, supervise legal education providers and advise the government on matters relating to legal education and training.

In carrying out its functions, the Council is expected to make regulations in respect of requirements for the admission of persons seeking to enroll in legal education programs and also establish criteria for recognition and equation of academic qualifications in legal education.

 


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