Fifty six Attorneys-at-Law yesterday began a four-day Supreme Court Bar Exam in Monrovia.
Successful candidates will qualify to practice as Counselors-at-Law in the country.
According to Cllr. Oswald Tweh, chairperson of the National Board of Examiners (NBE), each candidate paid US$1,200 for the examination.
Tweh said the fee covered feeding, stationery and other resource materials. Previous examination fees were between US$800 and US$900.
He said the NBE in consultation with the Supreme Court set the fees for the examination.
All 56 candidates have practiced law in the country for more than five years, along with meeting NBE’s moral and ethical standards.
Cllr. Tweh said besides the 56 Attorneys-at-Law, the NBE in consultation with the Supreme Court gave a “dispensation” to other Attorneys-at-Law that he did not name because of their status in government.
The dispensation, he noted, automatically qualified them as Counselors-at-Law, even though they did not sit the examination as required by Judicial Law.
He said current senior justice actors of both the Judiciary and the Executive were beneficiaries of the privilege.
Tweh disclosed that former Inspector General of the Liberia National Police Chris Massaquoi was among those who benefited from the “dispensation.”
Meanwhile, Tweh said to avoid fraud his committee introduced a numbering system that assigned each candidate with a particular number.
“Each candidate was issued an identification number and not their names. This will make it impossible for any examiner to assist them if they were to fail the exam, because I am the only person that knows who holds the number,” Tweh indicated.
“Nobody should think that they can use their contact to call any of the examiners for assistance. They would be making a grave mistake because not a single examiner knows the number of a particular person,” Tweh said.
Some of the candidates who spoke on condition of anonymity expressed dissatisfaction with the time allotted by the committee for the examination.
“We took the test from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and that is not enough time for such a test,” one of the Attorneys-at-Law stated.
In spite of the complaint, Tweh said the test is basically about writing and analysis of their clients’ cases when it is taken before the Supreme Court.
“They have to explain to us how they are going to represent their clients.”