New Legal Profession Bill in the Offing - Godfred Dame

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem and Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
President Akufo-Addo conferring with Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame (left), Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, at the conference.  Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
President Akufo-Addo conferring with Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame (left), Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, at the conference. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, has said his outfit will hold consultations with stakeholders to draft a new Legal Profession Bill.

When finally passed into law by Parliament, the bill will be expected to affect all facets of the legal profession, including legal education, disciplinary issues relating to lawyers, obligations of lawyers and the mandate of the General Legal Council (GLC).

Mr Dame made this known at an international conference on Legal Education in Ghana and Africa and the launch of the University of Ghana School of Law Endowment Fund in Accra yesterday.

According to the A-G, the processes for the drafting of the bill were now ongoing and, therefore, refuted news circulating on social and the traditional media that he had already laid a Legal Profession Bill before Parliament to be passed into law.

“I have not come up with any new Legal Profession Bill.

In point of fact, there has not been any Legal Profession Bill drafted by the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice this year.

No approval has been sought by me from the Cabinet for a Legal Profession Bill to be sent to Parliament, and for that matter no Legal Profession Bill has been submitted to Parliament,” he emphasised.

Old bill

On the contrary, Mr Dame explained, the bill circulating in media circles was part of two bills submitted to Parliament in 2019 which were not passed after they elapsed following the expiration of the Seventh Parliament.

He said when he assumed office in 2021, he did not adopt the bill because he felt there was the need for broader stakeholder consultation.

“I wrote to the sponsor of the legislation, the GLC, presenting my comments on the bill.

I asked the Chairman of the council to present his responses to my comments on the bill.

I further respectfully advised that ‘in view of the fact that the bill will replace the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32), there is the need for a broader stakeholder engagement for their input to be incorporated in the bill’,” the A-G said.

He said it was unfortunate that people did not check the authenticity of the information from his office, adding: “Spreading of false information poses a far greater threat to cohesion in society.”

Effective dialogue

The Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, in a speech read on his behalf by Justice Jones Dotse, a Justice of the Supreme Court, said the myriad of problems facing legal education in the country required effective dialogue and the concerted effort of all stakeholders.

He described the conference as significant, since there had been meaningful conversation by stakeholders on the challenges.

To resolve some of the challenges, the Chief Justice said the GLC, in collaboration with the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission, was reviewing the curriculum, methods of instruction and admission criteria of the various faculties of Law.

For his part, the Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law, Professor Raymond Atuguba, said the challenges facing legal education started in 1958 when the newly founded Ghana School of Law could not admit more students due to limited space.

“It is not good for the problems that faced legal education in the country in 1958 to still be with us in 2021,” he said