There was a big sigh of relief in the Makerere University School of Law auditorium yesterday after the 99 year old institution of higher learning bowed to legal pressure and accepted to admit twenty nine students of the long-awaited Bachelor of Law Executive (LLE) programme who had threatened to sue for breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation.
Through renowned human rights and education lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde of the Centre for Legal Aid, the aggrieved students had on 6th January 2021 launched a scathing attack on the Academic Registrar threatening to sue the University for ignoring LLE admission letters for Academic Year 2019/2020 that had, for unknown reasons, failed to kick off on 28th February 2020 as previously scheduled.
Counsel Ssemakadde, who is also legal counsel for the Uganda National Students Association (UNSA), warned the University of dire consequences for its failure to communicate to the inaugural LLE students a date when they were expected to commence the newly designed weekend-only programme yet a commencement date for Academic Year 2020/2021 had been communicated for other Freshers.
Counsel Ssemakadde, who has in the past gained much fame for winning a string of cases against Makerere University on behalf of victimised students and lectures, demanded that the University either schedules LLE classes starting 30th January 2020, when Academic Year 2020/2021 was slated to commence for other Freshers, or it presents “a proposal for payment of compensation/damages for the losses they had each sustained as a result of the University’s breach of contract, breach statutory duty, negligence, fraud and misrepresentation.”
In reply, the University suggested to Counsel Ssemakadde, without much success, that his clients should give up their LLE admissions and instead consider being absorbed into the “normal programmes” at the School of Law, meaning that they would have to select to study either in the morning or afternoon cohorts.
The legal wrangling was briefly halted after the government pushed the reopening of universities to 1st March 2021 on the advice of Covid-19 national response task force.
But as March 1 beaconed, university management capitulated and bowed to Counsel Ssemakadde’s relentless pressure and the fear of paying heavy damages.
It made a U-turn and decided to allow LLE students to commence the much anticipated programme on 1 March 2021, combining Into one cohort students admitted to the programme in 2019 and those admitted in 2020.
Law School Principal Christopher Mbazira notified all admitted students in a circular that the programme will be delivered using blended teaching, combining both physical and Open Distance and E-Learning.
“All students admitted to the Executive Programme are invited for a mandatory orientation meeting on 24th February 2021 at School of Law starting at 2pm”, he said.