The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, has urged all actors in the legal domain to keep in high esteem the ethics that guard the practice of their profession.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 5th Annual Legal Ethics Training Programme, organised by the African Centre on Law and Ethics (ACLE) of the Faculty of Law at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA ), Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah, whose speech was read on his behalf by Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, a judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana, said the legal profession must preserve its sanctity, and so its ethics cannot be compromised under any circumstances.
“It is only in strict adherence to ethical rules that the legal profession will continue to play its pivotal role in ensuring societal cohesiveness, rule of law, and an advocate for civil liberties,” the Chief Justice said.
The Chief Justice noted that one of the areas where practising lawyers are not respecting the laid-down rules of ethics is in exercising the right to withdraw services.
“Withdrawal of representation must always be done in a manner that strictly adheres to the rules of practice,” he stressed.
“Rule 40 of the Ghana Bar Association code of conduct makes it clear that withdrawal from a case at a most inopportune moment likely to cause embarrassment to the client is deemed as a misconduct,” the Chief Justice said.
Lawyers and financial management
On the question of financial management and proper keeping of books by lawyers, the Chief Justice said this is one area that has set lawyers on a collision course with their clients.
Records of complaints against lawyers available to the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council show as much.
“The basic ethical requirement is the duty to maintain financial propriety, including the need to give a receipt for every payment made to the lawyer, the need to keep books to distinguish between clients’ money held and other funds, accurately dealing with disbursements and maintenance of clients’ cash book,” Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah admonished.
International Bar Association represented
The president of the International Bar Association (IBA), Horacio Bernardes Neto, who participated in the webinar from his base in Brazil, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the urgent need for lawyers to add to their body of knowledge and boost their technological knowhow.
He said the changing state of affairs in information and communications technology requires that new lawyers educate themselves in trends relating to new technology.
“I think that young lawyers must understand that they don’t only have to be different and read widely, but they have to be technologically savvy, they have to absorb technology,” Bernardes Neto said.
About the ACLE
The African Centre on Law and Ethics (ACLE) within the GIMPA Faculty of Law is a research, scholarship and training centre, formally established in July 2017 to facilitate the growing commitment to law and ethics on the African continent.
It was primarily born out of the success of GIMPA’s training programme in legal ethics in 2016.
The aims of the ACLE include to provide tailored training in law and ethics for African students of law, lawyers, judges and other legal professionals.
It also undertakes interdisciplinary and comparative research on accepted standards of practice for lawyers, judges and other legal professionals.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio