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Lawyer reports fellow over unprofessional conduct

Lawyer reports fellow over unprofessional conduct

A lawyer, Stephen Badu, has reported a fellow lawyer, Derick Adu-Gyamfi, to the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council (GLC), accusing him of “unprofessionally” filing a public interest suit with his own (Adu-Gyamfi’s) name instead of his (Badu’s) name.

It is the case of Mr Badu that his senior colleague at the bar is not the originator of the suit which led the Supreme Court to strike out certain provisions of the Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992) as unconstitutional.

Mr Badu claims that he engaged Mr Adu-Gyamfi as his lawyer to file the case on a pro bono basis challenging the constitutionality of two sections of the Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), but counsel allegedly ended up filing it rather with his own name and taking the spotlight.

“I approached Lawyer Derick Adu-Gyamfi in my capacity as a client, for him to represent me, on pro bono, to file the aforementioned case at the Supreme Court.

I made him aware that the case was likely to give him exposure as counsel for the plaintiff. I handed the brief to him and he accepted to represent me,” he said.

Mr Badu said Mr Adu-Gyamfi started giving him excuses whenever he called for an update on the case and eventually told him that he could look for a new lawyer to file the case on his behalf.

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However, Mr Adu-Gyamfi has refuted the claims and averred that he was never engaged by Mr Badu as a lawyer, neither did he ever agree to represent him pro bono.

According to him, he filed the suit based on his extraneous legal research with no input whatsoever from Mr Badu.

Judgment

On November 8, 2023, a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court unanimously declared as unconstitutional the first parts of Sections 13 (2) (h) (i), (ii) and 172 of the Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), on the basis that they violated Article 19 (2) (c) of the 1992 Constitution.

The now repealed provisions prohibited persons charged with criminal offences from becoming directors of companies.

Article 19 (2) (c) of the Constitution guarantees the right of an individual charged with a criminal offence to be presumed innocent until proven guilty or pleads guilty.

It was the view of the apex court that barring people from becoming directors due to an accusation of crime presupposed that those people were being punished without basis.

“To punish an innocent person not convicted or pronounced culpable for the commission of an offence, either directly or indirectly sins against the constitutional presumption of innocence,” the court held.

The suit culminating in the judgment was filed on March 25, 2022 by Mr Adu-Gyamfi, who was both the plaintiff and lawyer representing himself.

Complaint

In a complaint to the GLC, dated July 27, 2022, which has been sighted by the Daily Graphic, Mr Badu told the GLC that he presented the case to Mr Adu-Gyamfi but counsel later allegedly filed it as a plaintiff to ostensibly take all the glory.

He said he came across some provisions in Act 992 which he deemed were in violation of the 1992 Constitution and prepared a brief on it.

Subsequently, he said he contacted a certain lawyer but that lawyer was unable to represent him due to other engagements and, therefore, approached Lawyer Adu-Gyamfi in 2021 to represent him.

He said in 2022, he started a search for a new lawyer but that delayed because he had to travel outside the country for business engagements.

“To my utter surprise, I read ... that Lawyer Derick Adu-Gyamfi has filed the same case (based on the brief I gave him) at the Supreme Court in his own name or as the plaintiff,” he added.

Mr Badu said the alleged actions of Mr Adu-Gyamfi “were dishonest, unprofessional and an attempt by my learned friend to bring the legal profession into disrepute.”

However, in his response dated September 9, 2022, Mr Adu-Gyamfi said at no point was Mr Badu his client for him to file any suit on his behalf.

“The complainant was not my client as he claims because he did not formally engage me and there was no lawyer/client relationship established,” he said.

Again, he said, he never accepted to represent Mr Badu pro bono because he was a man of substance who could pay for legal services.

“The complainant is not an indigent, he is the Chief Executive Officer of GLICO Ghana Limited, with the financial resources to properly retain and pay for the services of a lawyer,” Mr Adu-Gyamfi said.

He described himself in his response as an avid and accomplished legal researcher with seven published law books to his credit and, therefore, his efforts were to contribute to the expansion of the law and not for “exposure” as alleged by the complainant.

Counsel further averred in his response that inconsistencies in the laws of the country were not an intellectual property for anyone to lay claim to and, therefore, Mr Badu had no reason to accuse him of filing the case without his (Badu’s) name.

According to him, Mr Badu was not the only one who had realised that certain provisions in Act 992 were inconsistent with the 1992 Constitution, and wondered why Mr Badu did not search for another lawyer to file the suit or file it himself, since he was also a lawyer.

“I have not been dishonest, unprofessional, nor misrepresented any matter or acted fraudulently or in deceit towards the complainant,” he said.

“I did not have any professional relationship with the complainant for him to have alleged that I have breached same.

I was not retained to perform any legal services as the complainant alleges,” he said.

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