Chief Justice slams law at UWI

The Chief Justice has lambasted the law programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI), saying it was suffering from “intellectual attrition” and was only interested in “getting people over the bar”.

He has called for those at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago to “audit” the content of the LLBs (law degrees) coming in and applicants with “soft options” should be sent back to do other courses.

“If we’re serious, that is what we will have to do, but if we want to be the laughing stock we will continue on the path,” Chief Justice Sir Patterson Cheltenham declared yesterday.

“I, as Chief Justice, have to have a hard-nosed approach to what is happening up on the Hill and what I am seeing deeply troubles me because it troubles me for the future of my country.”

He was speaking in the Court of Appeal, as King’s Counsel Leslie Haynes, Larry Smith and Sir Elliott Mottley, along with Deputy Solicitor General Marsha Lougheed, appeared before him in the appeal, brought by the Government, against a judge’s decision which ruled that the Section 5A amendment to the Bail Act was unconstitutional.

His comments came after Smith threw his support behind UWI.

Noting that he was “deeply troubled” by the developments, Sir Patterson said the programme was not rigorous enough.

“The bar for entry does not exist. You walk in. And that is taxpayers’ money – yours, mine and others. It is a place that suffers from intellectual attrition.

“What I will tell you is that LLB programme is populated with a lot of super soft options to get people over the bar, to say they have an LLB,” the Chief Justice said.

“The programme lacks analytical rigour which people like myself had to go through to make it.”

He said important subjects, like Trust, were being “marginalised” and had gone from full lecture halls to sometimes a handful of students.

“Everyone had to do Trust, or at least elected to do Trust, because it was a foundational course. We passed the test because of the rigorous testing that we were given,” he said.

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