The Council of Legal Education (CLE) July-August resits came to a close about 2 weeks ago without much fanfare.
But students taking the resits, especially in the Civil and Criminal litigation papers were in for a rude shock. Candidates were required to attempt 5 essay questions from a set of 6 instead of 4 as it has always been in the past. The time limit was still capped at 3 hours. That’s 36 minutes per question compared to the 45 minutes per question allocated in past exams. There was no notice communicated regarding the new exam format in advance.
The problem was also exacerbated by the poor framing of some questions. In the Civil Litigation paper a student was required to draft “all applications” required for a certain judicial review case. How can one draft all 7 applications and still have enough time to attempt 4 other questions? That drafting question was only 10 marks in total. That’s like 1.4 marks per document drafted. What gives???!!! Criminal litigation was also poorly set as far as drafting viz-a-viz time allocated is concerned .
The CLE exam format falls far below the standard of various law schools around the world. In the State of New York bar exams students have 5 essays questions which are to be completed in 3 hours 30 minutes. That gives about 42 minutes per question. Further, the New York bar exam incorporates multiple choice questions among other tests. The multiple choice questions were used by the Kenya School of Law (KSL) in the past but were dropped.
Why did the CLE introduce the new exam format without notice? Does this meet the principle of legitimate expectation required from a public body? Does this meet the standard of fairness? Are the exam moderators sleeping on their job? This arbitrariness must be stopped, unless it’s the intention of the Council of Legal Education (CLE) to fail students deliberately.
If nothing is changed, students sitting their bar exam from now on are in for a raw deal.
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