The University of the South Pacific is pleased to announce that for the first time, the Professional Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP) under the School of Law and Social Sciences (SoLaSS) is being offered at the Tonga campus from Semester 2.
PDLP is an intensive 22-week practical legal training programme which must be undertaken by all Bachelor of Law graduates to get admitted as a lawyer.
USP’s Director of Professional Legal Training Programme (PDLP) Sharvada Sharma said the commencement of PDLP programme in Tonga will especially benefit Tongan PDLP students as they would be provided practical legal training customised to the Tongan jurisdiction and its court procedures and legal practice.
“The programme is taught by two very senior legal practitioners from the Attorney-General’s Office in Tonga, and they are, Ms Akanesi Emeline Katoa, Senior Crown Counsel, Head of the Legislative Drafting Division, and Ms Rose Lesley Kautoke, Senior Crown Counsel, Head of the Legal Advice and International Law Division, and we are indeed grateful for their support to the PDLP programme,” he added.
PDLP commenced at the Laucala campus in 1998, given the enormous interest around the region in the USP law programme and to further assist students to complete PDLP in their own countries. USP began offering PDLP in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in 2017, the programme was offered in Samoa since 2016.
USP Tonga Campus Director, Dr Robin Havea highlighted “This is special to us here on Tonga Campus. We have been trying to get PDLP to Tonga for years, but COVID-19 has finally allowed this to happen. It is also a result of the partnership between the Ministry of Education and Training (Tonga) & Crown Law which assisted to bring the PLDP to Tonga and it is taught in Blended Mode (Online and Face to Face).”
PDLP Module instructor, Ms Akanesi Emeline Katoa said eleven students were currently enrolled in the programme and this included students who worked for the Legislative Assembly, Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), Ministry of Justice, and the Ombudsman’s Office. The remainder were full-time students.
“This is a historical moment for Tonga and the legal fraternity as this is the first time for the PDLP programme to be facilitated in Tonga. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, most of the LLB-based Tongan graduates were unable to travel to Fiji to complete this important programme to allow them admission to the Tongan Legal Bar,” she added.
Ms Katoa added the programme would be based on Tongan laws, allowing students to understand more about Tongan jurisdiction and jurisprudence before they started practicing.