Should A Third Class LLB From Kent Uni Not Count As A Degree?

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By Tom Webb on

A Kent University LLB graduate has been denied access to the Canadian Bar – which normally recognises UK law degrees – because he got a third. The Canadian authorities have told Juron Grant-Kinnear that the qualification is effectively meaningless to them because of his “poor overall academic performance”.

Grant-Kinnear got an average mark of 41.6% in his degree, with marks between 38% and 49% in his eight degree modules – meaning he almost didn’t even get a third. He will now have to complete another law degree at a Canadian university in order to practise in the country.

To put Grant-Kinnear’s degree result into perspective, of 444 English pupil barristers in 2010/11, only one lucky person had a third-class degree. There are, however, some notable practising barristers and judges with thirds, including Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Andrew McFarlane. Oh, and Carol Vorderman also got a third. Perhaps that’s why Grant-Kinnear feels hard done by…

Speaking to Canadian magazine 4Students, the Kent graduate argued that the international degree accreditation process lacks transparency:

“There should be a set guideline to say if you complete an undergrad in Canada and you go away to the UK to do law school and you go to one of these 20 or 30 top-tier schools, when you come back here’s how many courses you’re going to have to do – and that’s not how it is. You can do the exact same course load and have the exact same experience as a peer…and be given a completely different outcome. There’s not really an understanding as to why that is,” he said.

The decision to deem a third from a UK university as effectively not a law degree comes at the end of a lengthy legal battle, which saw Grant-Kinnear twice appeal the original decision of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation to deny his Canadian law dream. The definitive result was delivered last month by the Ontario Superior Court.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom for Grant-Kinnear. He’s currently working as a legal counsel in the investment division of OPSEU Pension Trust, where he doesn’t need to have a Canadian law licence to practise.

Modified image by 21stCenturyGreenstuff via Wikimedia Commons on a Creative Commons license