The Supreme Court yesterday suspended its executive privileges (dispensation) that exempted executive branch officials, who are Attorneys-At-Law from sitting the examination to qualify as Counselor-At-Law.
No specific date has been scheduled for the examination, but, the applicants are expected to sit for the examination before the end of 2018, according to Attorney Darryl Ambrose Nmah, Communication Director of the Judiciary.
As Counselor-At-Law, the person becomes a member of the Supreme Court Bar, which qualifies him or her to practice before the high court.
And he or she must have practiced law for a period of five consecutive years, but the dispensation exempts the executive branch officials from the five years practiced.
And, to become a member of the bar requires an applicant to pass moral character evaluation pass an ethics examination, and achieve an acceptable score on the oral and written examination administered by the court.
But, for years now, and including 2016, the Supreme Court granted the executive privileges also known as ‘dispensation’ to some government officials like former Inspector General Chris Massaquoi of the Liberia National Police (LNP), who did not sit the examination and was licensed as Counselor-At-Law.
Col. Massaquoi did not practice law in the country for the five year period.
Making the disclosure yesterday, Attorney Nmah said the decision now means that 20 of the 76 applicants who have applied for the dispensation will now be required to sit the examination.
Nmah explained that the suspension would only be lifted after they have put into place several administrative standards to guide the issuing of dispensations.
“The 20 Attorneys At-Law will now sit the examination like any other applicants for the Counselor At-Law examination,” he stated.
He did not explain why the court has not suspended the dispensation, but the 20 applicants are the highest numbers to have applied for the executive privileges (dispensation).
Most of the 20 applicants, a judicial source hinted the Daily Observer came from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Ministry of Labour (MOL).
“Their petition for dispensation have all been rejected because of the suspension and they would sit the examination, if pass, they would be admitted to the Supreme Court bar,” Nmah maintained.
“They are not going to enjoy anymore those privileges. They have to pass the test before they can practice before the Supreme Court, he said.