By Ivan Mwine
In a classic scenario of natural law versus statutory law, a man who taught himself law has challenged the custodians of Uganda’s legal fraternity by dragging them to court for denying him an opportunity to practice law.
Daniel Adyera, 30, has had enough of the excuses given by Law Development Centre and the Law Council for denying him admission to the bar course, which lawyers are required to complete before enrolling as advocates in Uganda.
According to summons issued on 6th December 2021, the High Court has directed the Law Development Centre and the Law Council, through the Attorney General to respond to Adyera’s application for judicial review of their policy to deny the 2014 LLB graduate of the University of London bar course admission since 2019 on the ground that he obtained it through long distance learning.
The case scheduled to be heard on 10 February 2022 by Justice Musa Ssekaana, the head of the civil division of the High Court of Uganda.
Adyera, who also holds a Bachelor of Industrial and Organisational Psychology from Makerere University (2014) and a Master of Laws in Forensics, Criminology and Law from Maastricht University, Netherlands (2017), argues that the bias against law degrees obtained abroad and through long distance learning is not backed by law.
He also argues that this policy is “unjustifiable, unreasonable and irrational”, as per the principles of natural law, because the Uganda National Council for Higher Education recently cleared the Law Development Centre and law-teaching universities in Uganda to conduct their academic programmes by long distance learning through its Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) model, to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Adyera also seeks an order that the two institutions pay him ‘general, aggravated and punitive damages as the court may deem fit’ for having caused him ‘to suffer humiliation and the indignity of frustrations, anxiety, dizzying futile follow-ups with the respondents, psychological and emotional distress, as well as great financial loss or impoverishment through continued exclusion from practising his chosen career for an indefinite period.’
“It may profit you to consider the merits of the applicant’s case and allow him to enroll for 2021/2022 Bar Course (2nd Intake) whose deadline is 31 December 2021 without the necessity of a hearing before the trial judge,” said Adyera’s lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde of Centre for Legal Aid, in a letter received by the secretary of the Law Council and director of Law Development Centre on 7th and 8th December 2021, respectively