Justice Gertrude Araba Torkonoo (2nd from left), Chief Justice, Prof. Kofi Abotsi (right), Dean, UPSA Law School, and Godfred Yeboah Dame (2nd from right),  Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, jointly presenting a citation to Prof. Samuel Kofi Date-Bah (left). Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
Justice Gertrude Araba Torkonoo (2nd from left), Chief Justice, Prof. Kofi Abotsi (right), Dean, UPSA Law School, and Godfred Yeboah Dame (2nd from right), Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, jointly presenting a citation to Prof. Samuel Kofi Date-Bah (left). Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

UPSA honours Prof. Date-Bah for exceptional contribution to law

The UPSA Law School has honoured a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Professor Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his “exceptional contribution” to Ghanaian law and its development.


He is the first recipient of the UPSA Law School Lifetime Achievement Award scheme instituted by the law school to celebrate outstanding personalities who have contributed in diverse and immense ways to the development of the rule of law, jurisprudence and legal philosophy, the legal academy and education.

The award seeks to acknowledge and highlight the contributions of distinguished personalities towards national development through the law, with emphasis on the use of the law as an instrument of national development and good governance.

The retired Supreme Court judge was honoured, particularly for leading many historic decisions and opinions of the Supreme Court which resulted in the growth and consolidation of the court’s jurisprudence.


The event, which was attended by scores of legal professionals, was chaired by the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo.

Recounting her personal encounter with Prof. Date-Bah, who supervised her as a judge, Justice Torkornoo said the most striking and inescapable quality of the awardee was his remarkable ability to impart knowledge. 

“My personal view is that Prof. Date Bah is a consummate teacher and each interaction with him is an exercise in receiving knowledge. 

“Without attempting to teach in conventional ways, in any short time of interaction, Prof. Date-Bah can impart professional and life lessons that can have a transformative effect on a life and career,” the Chief Justice said.

She noted that while many thought leaders asked for attention to be paid to their work, Prof. Date-Bah did the opposite and added that: “He unobtrusively guides such that simply watching him leads to understanding what he wants to teach’’. 

Highlighting some landmark cases adjudicated by the retired Supreme Court judge, the Attorney-General and Minster of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, said through his judgments, Prof. Date-Bah established that the law was more than a set of rules and regulations. 

“I will hasten to say that Prof. Date-Bah’s return to Ghana in 2003, marked by his momentous appointment to the Supreme Court, further boosted his contribution to legal education as he enriched the study of law in Ghana, generally, with many very incisive judgments on a variety of subjects, ranging from constitutional law to business transactions. 

“Indeed, it is within that span of a decade on the Supreme Court that Justice Date-Bah left his most lasting legacy for Ghana law,” he added. 


For his part, Justice Date-Bah commended the UPSA Law School, led by Prof. Kofi Abotsi, for bestowing the honour on him. 

He said the legal system was an important instrument for change in the country’s development process. 

Development, he said, must be viewed holistically for the benefit of all. 

He, therefore, advocated the limitation of powers and rights of the executive in order to achieve constitutionalism. 


Prof. Date-Bah was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana from 2003 to 2013. Prior to that, he served as a Special Adviser (Legal) at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London for 20 years (1984 to 2003).

 In that capacity, he was responsible for legal advisory and negotiating services to developing member states of the Commonwealth.

Aside from legal advisory and judicial roles, his career also included academic roles.

Appointed a lecturer at the University of Ghana in 1969, he rose to the position of Associate Professor there and at the Faculty of Law of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, before becoming a full Professor of Law at the University of Calabar, Nigeria in 1980. 

He has also held visiting academic positions at: Lincoln College, Oxford University; the Yale Law School, U.S.A; and Fribourg University, Switzerland. 

While in academia in Ghana, he also engaged in part time legal practice. Since retiring from the Judiciary, Justice Date-Bah has served as an occasional arbitrator.

On the international scene, apart from his long stint at Commonwealth Secretariat, he was also a representative of the Ghana Government to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in the 1970s and was elected Chairman of the Commission in 1978.

Additionally, he was a member, from 1996 to 2010, of a Committee of UNIDROIT (the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) which drafted the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.

He is currently a member of: the Council of GARIA (the Ghana Association of Restructuring and Insolvency Advisors) and the Board of the Office of the Registrar of Companies.

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