ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin says he will use this weekend’s meeting of the Council of Legal Education (CLE) in Jamaica to continue making the case for Antigua and Barbuda to establish a law school.
“I shall be making my case to the Council that we need the law school here in Antigua and Barbuda to serve the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) and other persons who are unable to …attend laws schools around the region,” he said on a radio program here prior to his departure for Kingston on Friday.
Lobbying since 2017
Antigua and Barbuda has been lobbying for the establishment of a school here since 2017 and Benjamin said he is confident that once he presents his findings and research on the issue, the Council, will eventually rule in his favor.
“This Attorney general has the ability of persuading people, he was part of the negotiating team that led to the establishment of the (Fourth campus of the University of the West Indies) here. I have no doubt that when he presents our legal arguments, our capability and our ability to have the school here in Antigua then common sense will prevail.
“Remember that these decisions aren’t taken lightly. The University and in this case the law school will have to be persuaded that we are in a position in terms of infrastructure, demands and capability to have the school here.
“I am satisfied that once I present my arguments to the School that they will be looked at fondly,” Benjamin told radio listeners.
Antigua and Barbuda is not the only CARICOM country up in arms about its students not being able to study law at the prevailing campuses.
Guyana seeks own law school too
In 2017, Guyana signed an agreement with the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) and the Law College of the Americas (LCA) as it moved to establish its own law school and ease the difficulties being experienced by Guyanese students wishing to attend the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago.
Attorney General Basil Williams said the establishment of the Law School will ensure that local law students no longer have to worry about gaining acceptance to continue their legal education at the Trinidad-based facility.
But the CLE and the government have been at odds over the establishment of the school and last month Williams said the government will be moving ahead with plans to establish a local law school “one way or the other”
“We have a plan. I just told you with oil and gas we’ll have a law school,” Williams told a group of local law students, who had visited his office.
As a result of several issues encountered with the CLE since the signing of an agreement for the feasibility study for the local law school in 2017, the Attorney General indicated that the government is mulling a law school which does not come under the CLE.
“We could also model it after [The] Bahamas. They built and then they went under the umbrella of CLE,” he added.