The General Legal Council, the main regulatory body for the conduct and administration of legal education and profession in Ghana has said, its ‘Disciplinary Committee proceedings are ALWAYS IN CAMERA and under no circumstances should its proceedings be made public’.
This was contained in a letter to Mr. Korsi Senyo who was seeking the
Speaking to a Koforidua based legal practitioner on what is meant by ‘proceedings are ALWAYS IN CAMERA’, the lawyer explained that “proceedings held in camera means the hearing is not an open Court or the hearing is not opened to the public. In other words, those who are not parties to the case except lawyers of the affected parties are not allowed to sit in the hearing”.
This explanation prompted Head of Awake Investigates, Efo Korsi Senyo to question why Dr. Fiadjoe who once taught Justice Sophia Akuffo (the then Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC) at University of Ghana to sit in the Disciplinary Committee proceedings during the trial of Mr. Kwesi Afrifa who was recently banned for 4years by the General Legal Council for representing a brother of his (Lawyer Afrifa) former client against that former client in Court in another case after close to 10 years.
Giving detailed accounts to the circumstances leading to the Kumasi based lawyer, Kwesi Afrifa’s 4year ban, in a featured articles by Efo Korsi Senyo under the headline “What is the Interest of GLC in Banning Lawyers?: The Case of Lawyer Kwesi Afrifa – Part 1“, he wrote:
The General Legal Council hearing:
At the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC, one Dr. Fiadjoe who taught one of the members of the Disciplinary Committee at University of Ghana, was inexplicably allowed into the hearing saying he was only providing moral support to the Timpos [the Complaint] who have been his lifelong friends.
On the 27th of July, 2017, which is the 10th sitting of the the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC, Justice Anin Yeboah who was not one of the three panel members as mysteriously added, sat in the proceedings, fully participated in same leading to the imposition of the 4year ban/suspension/striking off from the roll of lawyers in Ghana on Lawyer Afrifa.
“How the General Legal Council found Lawyer Afrifa guilty of conflict of interest:
While the case is ongoing in the court, Dr. Emelia Timpo filed a complaint at the General Legal Council that Lawyer Afrifa represented the Administrators of the Estate which she is a member in 1998. Now, Lawyer Afrifa is representing his brother (Nana Ackah – the second estate administrator) against her in Court for illegally selling two houses which forms part of the estate – You know what, this is the Count 1 of Conflict of Interest the GLC upheld – Lawyer Afrifa is therefore sentenced to 2years.
At the same time, Kodwo filed a complaint that, Lawyer Afrifa was one his lawyer (you remember the 1998 case, when he – Kodwo and Nana Omiano was arrested and Lawyer Afrifa represented them in court) and now being a lawyer for his brother against him in Court for illegally selling two houses which forms part of the estate – You know what; this is the Count 2 of Conflict of Interest the GLC upheld – Lawyer Afrifa, you are therefore sentenced to 2years.
On these two counts, the GLC use the sword of its deification of justice to ban Lawyer Afrifa was for 4 years,
What if the position of the law on lawyer representing client at one time and representing against them in another time?:
The position of the law if very clear and simple on this matter that a lawyer can represent a client at one time and represent another person at a another time against the first client.
See:> LITTLE v KINGSWOOD COLLLERIES Co. (1882) 20 Ch.D. 733; GRISSELL v PETO (1832) 131 E.R. 514 and ROBINSON v MULLLET (1817) 146 E.R. 488 applied.’
HALSBURY’S LAW OF ENGLAND, 4th Edition re-issue Vol. 44 (1) page 123 paragraph 150 states that:
“… there is, however, no general rule prohibiting a solicitor who has acted in a particular matter for one of the parties from acting subsequently in the same matter for the opposite party…..”
So which rule or law did the General Legal Council apply in the case and why?
This is what Awake Investigates’ Efo Korsi Senyo is digging further to uncover.“
The General Legal Council, following its 3 years ban placed on celebrated human rights lawyer, Mr. Francis-Xavier Sosu on two counts of overcharging a client; touting and personal advertising on social media has open the flood gate for many to question how fair and firm the Council is in its decisions regarding regulating the legal profession.
Though Mr. Sosu appealed the decision at the Human Rights High Court and filed Stay of Execution at the Appeals Court, the Court presided over by Justice Henry Anthony Kwofie (JA) on July 26, 2017 declined jurisdiction to hear the case saying the Notice of Appeal ought to have been filed at the General Legal Council
What was however, not clear was the fact that the judge made no reference to the facts that Lawyer Sosu sworn an affidavit in which he said he went to the offices of the General Legal Council in the company of others to file the appeal and he was told that the Council did not have a registry that receives those Notices of Appeal.
Lawyer Kwesi Afrifa’s Appeal:
Though, Lawyer Afrifa filed a Notice of Appeal at the General Legal Council and Stay of Execution/Suspending the decision of the Disciplinary Committee at the Court on the very day the 4 year sentence was imposed on him, the GLC has went against their own rules and published the ban placed on the lawyer. The Judicial Secretary has also gone ahead and written letter to all Court in Ghana not to entertain Lawyer Kwesi Afrifa.
According to Lawyer Afrifa, the action of the GLC and the Judicial Secretary while his Notice of Appeal was duly received is in violation of section 21 and 22 of the Legal Professions Act 1960.
Lawyer Afrifa has since cited the GLC for contempt for “deliberate conduct in prejudicing the determination, adjudication, and outcome of an Appeal by the Applicant lawyer which is pending before the court of Appeal”
He noted that the letter by the Judicial Secretary of Ghana is completely unsuitable and without any legal basis whatsoever in the face of the provision of section 21 and 22 of the Legal Profession Act 1960. He added that the letter showed that the Judicial Secretary has personally disregarded the rules set out by the statute, in relation to Appeals from the decisions of the General Legal Council.
Actions against the GLC
A pressure group, United for National Interest and a private citizen, Emmanuel Korsi Senyo have since dragged a member of the Disciplinary Committee, Lawyer Sam Okudzeto; Mr. Vincent Kizito Beyuo, Mr. Ace Annan Ankomah and some 30 other lawyers for touting and advertising for which the hearing is fixed on October 26, 2017.
Mr. Emmanuel Korsi Senyo again has filed two writs at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of some aspect of the operations of the GLC and seeking the apex court to clear unconstitutional the Council decision to amend its rules to allow lawyers to create websites without recourse to parliament.