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The New Rules for Law Examinations., Issue 7975, 2 August 1889
The New Rules for Law Examinations.
As was indicated some time ago that they would probably do, their Honors the Judges have listened to the recommendations made by the Senate of the New Zealand Univerand have recently altered the rules for admission to the legal profession. This has been done by a proclamation which appeared in a recent issue of the New Zealand Government * Gazette.’ As no public notification has been given of the fact or character of the changes actually made, a brief summary of them will be of interest to our legal readers. • fi r ®t place, the new rules will come into force on June 1, 1889, so intending candidates for admission will have but two opportunities more of presenting themselves for examination under the existing rules, the last being in March, This we think a mistake ; for it would have only been fair and reasonable to have given further notice in regard to so important a change. In the next place the examinations will, under the new rules, be held only once a year. This it also unfair. In other colonies examinations are held quarterly, and we see no reason why they should be only annual in New Zealand. To insist upon such a regulation will have the effect of working hardship in many cases. But to revert to the examinations which have to be passed. As heretofore, those who possess a university degree are to be examined in law only, no matter whether they are candidates for admission as barrister or solicitor. Legal gentlemen, who have been admitted as barristers or solicitors in any other portion of the British dominions can acquire a similar status in New Zealand by passing an examination in the laws of this colony in so far as they differ from those of Great Britain. These examinations may be held at any time on two months’ notice being given. Here we again think the regulations are at fault, and for two reasons. One of these is that it is notorious that the examinations in this colony are in many respects much severer in both law and general knowledge than those which have to be passed in England, Candidates have succeeded at Horae, and have been admitted, especially barristers, who would have no chance of getting through the New Zealand papers. They thus by a light course of study get admitted at Rome, and then return to New Zealand and take the statute law paper, and get into the ranks of the profession in that way. This is not fair to New Zealand students., who will have to face the costly and stiff examinations required by the new regulations. But there is another objection. Neither Victoria nor New South Wales, nor other colonies, possibly, as well, will admit New Zealand trained men into their legal ranks, except, we believe, solicitors who have served five years under articles, and perhaps barristers who never practised as solicitors. Why, then, should we be more generous, and grant concessions which are not reciprocated ? This is a very unjust clause, and one which Parliament should remedy if the Judges will not. We utterly fail to see the reason for such generosity. The Judges should have been just to New Zealand trained men before being so magnanimous to outsiders. Candidates for the Bar who have no uni
versity degree and have not been admitted elsewhere will require to pass examinations in both law and general knowledge. The test for the latter is the first section of the LL.B. degree, or to pass with credit the junior scholarships examinations of the New Zealand University. We fail to see why the junior scholarships examination papers should be prescribed for the general knowledge examination. The object of these papers is to award prizes to the most distinguished secondary school students in the colony. Those who enter for these examinations have been carefully coached for years in the hope of acquiring distinction for themselves and for the schools to which they belong. Anyone who knows the difficulties of these examinations does not tequire to be told that those who have not undergone years of careful and special teaching would not have the least chance of passing them with credit. He who would seek this method of gaining a certificate for general knowledge would find himself deceived. The other alternative is a much more easy one, as it includes neither arithmetic, algebra, nor Euclid. The subjects are—(l) Latin; (2) jurisprudence and constitutional history; (3) mental science or English. It must be confessed that this is not an extravagant amount of general knowledge to insist npon. In extent it is by no means equal to the general knowledge test at present existing, inasmuch as a considerable amount of mathematics is required, and a sound knowledge of both Latin and French. No doubt in future it will bo the test resorted to by candidates for the Bar, The law examination for barristers is the same as that prescribed by the New Zealand University for the LL. B. degree, and differs but little from that which barristers have at present to pass. It, however, to some extent doubles on the general knowledge examination, for it prescribes os one of the subjects jurisprudence and constitutional history. We suppose, however, that a candidate would not be required to pass in the same subjects twice over. But the instance shows with what a degree of carelessness the rules were drawn up and adopted. Next, as tp those who are now on the roll as solicitors, bat have not attained the barrister’s qualifications. They are not dealt with very leniently in some ways. If they can qualify at the September or Maroh examinations they will be out of their difficulty, for they could be admitted before June; but if they cannot do so in both law and general knowledge we fail to see that passing in one branch would be of any use to them. This is a serious oversight. Suppose a candidate has, before next June, passed in law or general knowledge, this should count on his behalf, bat under the rules it would not, and as far as we can see, he would have to pass over again under the new regulations. If there are in the colony any persons who have partially qualified they should make representation to the Judges vlien they again meet, and thus have their rights preserved. Solicitors, then, who have not been enrolled as barristers before Juno next will, after that month, have to pass the barristers’ general knowledge test under the new regulations, and also the LL.B. examination in jurisprudence and constitutional history, Roman law, and international law, and the conflict of laws. Thus, so far as the law portion is concerned, it is not excessive ; for unless, as we have said, it is intended that candidates must pass twice in jurisprudence and constitutional history, they would only have to qualify in Roman law and international law.
For the solicitor’s general knowledge, the matriculation examination is the pass required. The law examination is the same as that for the LL. B. degree, omitting constitutional history aud jurisprudence, Roman law, and international law. Hence we may have solicitors who do not know a word of the general or constitutional history of their country. That would not be creditable.
It will thus be seen from our explanation and criticism of the new rules that we do not agree with them on many points. The Judges should not, in our humble opinion, have approved of them so hastily. But in addition to this, while it would be
presumption on our part to say that their Honors were not legally justified in making anch regulations, we have no hesitation in saying that it was never intended by the Ls w Practitioners Act of ISS2 tint the Judges should appoint examiners in the manner tiiey have done. In fact, they have not appointed examiners at all, but, contrary to the spirit of the Act, have handed the examinations over to the New Zealand University, and virtually have decided that after June next no man shall be admitted to the Bar in New Zealand, except he has passed the whole of the LL.B. examinations of the New Zealand University. We repeat that whether their Honors had or had not power to do this by virtue of the wording of the Act of 1882, it was never supposed nor intended by Parliament that they should, at the instigation or suggestion of tho University, etleot by a side wind what the authorities of the latter institution had vainly endeavoured to accomplish by direct means.— 1 Christchurch Telegraph.’
The New Rules for Law Examinations., Issue 7975, 2 August 1889
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