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NAMs pass Legal Practitioners Bill

Jun 21, 2016, 10:08 AM | Article By: Kaddijatou Jawo

Members of the National Assembly yesterday passed the Legal Practitioners Bill 2016.

Tabling the bill before deputies, the Minister of Justice, Mama Fatima Singhateh, said on 29 December 2015, the National Assembly enacted the Legal Practitioner’s Act 2015.

She added that the process of enacting a law according to the constitution of The Gambia 1997 “does not stop at the National Assembly”.

She said that according to section 100 of the 1997 constitution, once a bill was enacted by the Parliament “it goes to the President of the Republic to be accented to”.

She said ascent must be done within 30 days failing which, in the alternative, the President could sign and ascent or return it back to parliament for reconsideration with recommendations.

The Justice Minister further told lawmakers that since the bill was enacted in December 2015, it was sent to the President before it would come into effect.

Unfortunately, she added, the President decided to send the bill back to the National Assembly to be reconsidered, which was provided for under section 100 sub-3 of the constitution of The Gambia.

Which states that where the President sees and considers that there are certain provisions which should be included or corrected or amended, such a bill would be presented to the National Assembly through the Justice Minister for the National Assembly to consider or reconsider with amendment.

She said there are four major proposals that are being presented for consideration by the National Assembly.

They included, she said, the re-constitution of the General Legal Council which was established by the Act of the National Assembly under the Legal Practitioners Act; the inclusion of a clause that will bring into life the requirement of a pupilages when all those legal requirements have been satisfied, and to ensure that law officers once employed by state office, as long as they hold an authentic certificate of qualification, they can be called legal practitioners.

According to the Justice Minister, when the bill was brought to the National Assembly in 2015, one of the things she stated was the fact that the legal landscape in the country had undergone “tremendous changes” among which was the establishment of the Law Faculty of the University of The Gambia and the Law School.

“It is provided in section 15 that for you to be qualified as a lawyer not only you should have qualifying certificates, but you must complete one year pupilages with a legal practitioner of over 10 years standing,” she said.

Seconding the motion was the National Assembly Member for Jeswang, Hon. Haddy Nyang Jagne, who said that the 1997 constitution, which is the basic law under section 103, empowers the President to return a bill to the National Assembly to be reconsidered and also make recommendation for amendment.

Hon. Nyang added that “the bill is a laudable”, and she thanked the Justice Minister and her team for explanation of the bill.