COVID-19 DISRUPTION

Confusion mars bar exams due in days as council unprepared

Council yet to communicate to the candidates on how those out of the locked down counties will take the tests.

In Summary
  • The bar exams are set to run from Tuesday, April 13 from 9am to Friday April 23.
  • CLE chief executive JK Gakeri told the Star that he did not know whether the exams will proceed.
Some of the 124 lawyers admitted to the Roll of Advocates by Chief Justice David Maraga at the Supreme Court last year.
Some of the 124 lawyers admitted to the Roll of Advocates by Chief Justice David Maraga at the Supreme Court last year.
Image: FILE

Confusion has struck the administration of trainee lawyers’ bar exams after the state agency responsible failed to provide clear guidance, days to the start of the tests.

The Star has established that as of Thursday, the Council for Legal Education was yet to make up its mind on whether the exams will be on and how, given the restrictions imposed by the state to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a notice by the council to the candidates, the bar exams are set to run from Tuesday, April 13 from 9am to Friday April 23. The examination centres include the Kenya School of Law, the Bomas of Kenya, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Karen campus, Cooperative University and Kasneb Tower in the city.

However, given the disruption caused by the restrictions imposed by the government to check the spread of the virus, the council has not provided communication to the candidates on how those out of the locked down counties will sit the exams.

The council’s chief executive JK Gakeri told the Star that he did not know whether the exams will proceed as planned but insisted he was not aware of any hitch "as no one has raised a complaint.”

Gakeri said the "responsible chair[person] had called a meeting this afternoon to discuss the matter" and give directions.

"So, perhaps after that meeting, we may be clear on what is going to happen," he said, painting the picture of a CEO not really sure about the status of the exams.

The council is the only state organ with the mandate to oversee law education in the country, assess and authorise the syllabuses of universities teaching law and also administer exams for law graduates seeking to be admitted to the bar.

The confusion came to light on Wednesday after the Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi  complained that the confusion was causing anxiety among candidates.

“CLE bar exams [are] to be administered in 6 days. No communication whatsoever. No exam centres. No exam cards,” he said on social media.

Some candidate's exam applications have not been approved. Candidates are still locked out of the zoned area. Council of Legal Education, please attend to this matter”.

The chairman of the society’s Nairobi branch Erick Theuri took the cue, calling on the council to “at minimum communicate the exams modalities.”

“Uncertainty doesn't aid exam preparations. These are unusual times. Managing mental anguish during such times ought to be a paramount consideration.”

LSK CEO Mercy Wambua intimated to the Star that she had written to Attorney General Paul Kihara to secure exemptions for the bar exam candidates from the Covid-19 restrictions. If granted, the candidates outside the restricted zone would be allowed to travel and take the exams.

Edited by Henry Makori