What you need to know:
- The proposal that previously came up in the 9th Parliament was awakened by a section of legislators on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee last week.
A section of Members of Parliament is pushing for a special provision in which serving legislators who are also practicing lawyers are exempted from the mandatory Continuous Legal Education (CLE) reasoning that they are 'too busy for it'.
The proposal that previously came up in the 9th Parliament was awakened by a section of legislators on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee last week.
The training is meant to among things; enable lawyers keep abreast of the latest developments in the legal fraternity and also earn attendants points upon the renewal of their Legal Practicing Certificates. The training is normally conducted under the direct watch of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) where participants are required to collect at least 20 points in order to qualify for the renewal of the Certificate for Legal Practice.
However, MPs want to be excused from the training. In their interface with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs that was presenting its 2022/23 budget framework paper, the Bunyole East MP Mr Yusuf Mutembuli indicated that the tasks pressed on them as lawmakers deny them ample time for CLE.
“Given our nature of work, it gets very tricky for some of us to attend the CLE sessions. I pray that we are exonerated from the 20 points,” Mr Mutembuli said.
In response, the Acting Secretary of the Uganda Law Council, Ms Margaret Nabakooza, advised the legislators to file a written request to the Council clearly stipulating why they want to be treated in a special way.
“There is a committee on Legal Education and training which handles such exemptions and my prayer is that the individual MPs who are advocates make applications to the Committee and provide justifications for the exemption which we shall present to the committee for consideration,” she said.
Legal provision on the training
The Continuous Legal Education (CLE) is provided for under Section 77 (1) (a) of the Advocates Act.
Mr Kenneth Michael Situma, an active lawyer in Kampala says the training is relevant to all active advocates and hence has to be undertaken.
“These sessions are meant to shape matters concerning the legal practice, conduct, and discipline of Advocates. All this in a lump sum strengthens the nobility of the profession,” Mr Situma who is opposed to the suggestion by the MPs said.
“So, for our learned colleagues in Parliament to seek exemption is within their right, although it would be preferable for them to explore other options of training under the regulations especially Reg 9(1) (1),” he added.
Mr Situma said alternatively, MPs can apply to the Committee for accreditation of a programme or workshop conducted by Parliament under its various committees to constitute CLE training for MPs while at work in order for them to discard the time factor notion.
“Everyone is busy in whatsoever manner but CLE compliance is key and mandatory so they need to be creative with their time," he said.