The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood on Monday announced that Lawyers would now have to undertake mandatory courses before the renewal and issuance of licenses.
She said this was to ensure professionalism and to rebuild the image of the legal profession which has over the years experienced bad press.
Mrs Wood said this at the opening of this year’s Ghana Bar Association conference held in Cape Coast under the theme: “Insulating State Institutions from Interference for Effective Realization of their Mandate; The Role of Regulatory Bodies”.
The Chief Justice expressed concern about the delay in administrating justice in the country which she noted had led to frustration of litigants and therefore challenged judges to take responsibility of managing their courts.
She said the issue of professionalism should be the hallmark and immediate concern of the bar and bench, stressing that the judiciary believed in rule of law and that members of the bar should put in place strategic plans to further strengthen the judicial system in the country.
Mrs Wood expressed regret that the judiciary was still saddled with issues of alleged corrupt practices and stressed that the situation was being compounded following the demand for money by some court bailiffs before the delivery services to clients and pointed out that the service had reached a point that it should crack the whip.
The Chief Justice was also unhappy about lawyers over charging their clients and suggested that a number of pro-bono services should be rendered to ensure rule of law and equality before the law.
Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice urged members of the Association to eschew all judicial malpractices and ensure the fulfillment of the code of ethics of their profession, adding, “you are expected to act in an honest manner and uphold the rule of law at all times so as to help redeem the name of the bar”.
She said it was a challenging time for the legal profession in Ghana because the nation now has knowledgeable and well informed public who were very conscious of their rights and the work of the lawyer.
Mrs Appiah-Opong expressed worry about the falling standards in the legal profession and asked the GBA to come out with strategic measures that could help address the situation, noting that the current economic situation had resulted in the breakdown of the ethics of the profession.
Mrs Appiah-Opong called on the GBA to support the independence of justice, ensure confidence for the courts and also to act as mentors for the junior members of the Association, stressing that if people lose confidence in lawyers they would take the law into their hands which would result in anarchy and confusion.
The Minister pointed out that lawyers played a critical role in ensuring peace and security in a country and urged the GBA to ensure that there was peace in the Bar and that they should endeavour to protect the laws of the country and adhere to the ethics of the profession.
Mrs Appiah-Opong also urged members to charge fair and reasonable fees, stressing that excessively high fees was a barrier to justices and that it could also break down the relationship between lawyers and their clients and advised them to act consciously and take up tasks they could easily handle or dispose of in a given period.
The Minister pointed out that political interference impeded the work of lawyers and that it also has a negative impact on the society and stressed that the situation should be condemned by all.
Mr Thomas Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, Central Regional Minister in his welcoming address expressed his displeasure about the frequent adjournment of cases in court and tasked the GBA to educate the public on their rights and responsibilities.
He further expressed concern about indiscipline among lawyers and asked that the situation be addressed to ensure public confidence in the legal profession.
Nene Abayaateye Amegatcher, President of the GBA said in as much as we keep changing governments as a nation, their effectiveness and the sustainable development and stability of the nation depended on the effective functioning of critical state institutions such as parliament, the judiciary, Electoral Commission and the security agencies.
He noted that such institutions when they function well, play varying roles including checking excesses of the executive, guaranteeing equity and justice for all, as well as checking corruption, assuring national cohesion and promoting peace and freedom.
The GBA President announced that the Association’s five year strategic plan was being implemented with the commencement of the health and investment needs of the members.
He however expressed regret that the members of the association have not been forthcoming to register to enable them enjoy the benefits.
Nene Amegatcher said in the past year the Bar lost 18 of its members and urged the members to engage in regular health checkups.
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