Some lawyers at the Conference
The Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anim Yeboah, has urged the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to refrain from extended adjournments that are not sought on legitimate grounds, because it leads to delay and undermining of the administration of justice.
The Chief Justice made this known yesterday in Accra, at the Bench, Bar and Faculty Conference under the theme: “The Survival of the Legal Profession in a Changing World.”
Speaking to the participants in a keynote address, the Chief Justice advised that “Judges need to manage cases efficiently and restrain from the extended adjournment that stretched the duration of cases unduly and not set on legitimate grounds indulged in by some members, which leads to delay and undermining of the administration of justice.”
He affirmed that the Bench, Bar and Faculty shared a common duty to expand the frontiers of justice, through their respective roles of adjudication, resolution, and public policy education in the country.
He noted that the law faculties, the Bar, and the Bench faced challenges just like any other professions, and as such, there was the need for continuous improvement, necessary for the success of all professions.
He added that the law profession had benefited from the constantly changing world, which required them to answer old questions anew, for instance, “questions of legal ethics and education, which have to be distilled in the context of modern society, and be made relevant to revised circumstances.”
The Dean of the University of Ghana Law Faculty, Prof. Raymond Atuguba, in his remarks, noted that the survival of the legal profession started from the faculties of law, but not at the Bar or the Bench.
The Legon Dean supported his argument with: “Who we train at the faculties, and how we train them, is what you get at the Bar and the Bench.”
He continued that the faculties had long been orphaned in this tripartite arrangement of the Bench, Bar and Faculties, which needed to end now, stating that the Association had “seen some ascendency in the depreciation of the value of legal academics and their opinion on matters that concern the development of the law. This is mainly because these views are increasingly viewed through the lenses of petty partisan politics.”
According to Prof Atuguba, sometimes responding to changes involves stepping back and not moving forward. “The survival of the legal profession involves stepping back to confront the world of paralegals-… and sometimes dark world of mostly retired public servants, acting as Commissioners of Oaths and God knows what else,” he lamented.
The President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Yaw Acheampong Boafo, took his turn to admonish that the legal profession, which is steeped in tradition and known for being conservative, had been caught up in a maelstrom of digitalisation, and also the recent COVID-19 pandemic challenges.
To him, the effects of the pandemic on the legal profession and practice had been glaring and substantial, such that, the status quo had been challenged and shaken, and called for an introspection and a rethink of the nature of the legal profession and practice.
“The disruptive effect of technology on [the] legal practices cannot be overemphasised, however, this is not the time for lawyers to throw their hands up in despair, on the contrary, it should provide an opportunity,” he concluded.