A Supreme Court judge, Justice William Atuguba, has questioned the ethical behaviour of some lawyers in the country, which he says, fall short of the required standards.
He observed there has been some level of laxity among these lawyers in the handling of cases at the various courts, particularly the Supreme Court.
Speaking at a legal ethics training in programme for law students in Accra, Justice Atuguba said the legal profession has in recent times witnessed grave lapses and breaches of the rule of the conduct that lawyers are supposed to uphold.
“There is now great laxity in legal preparations on the part of counsel [lawyers] appearing before the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, he said.
Although he admitted some of the lawyers do well in presenting well-researched cases, “others just come one some legal holiday; they just walk into the court and even forget what their briefs are about. You ask a simple question [and] they don’t know where it is”.
He has therefore urged law students and professional lawyers to embrace ethics as regulations of the legal profession.
The Dean of the Faculty of Law at GIMPA Kofi Abotsi, expressed concern about some lawyers who engage in unethical behaviours by exhibiting high unprofessionalism in their dealings with clients.
“Very often lawyers do not show up in court when they’ve been paid for it and clients end up in court without representation,” he said.
Mr Abotsi noted that conflict of interest is one problem in the country’s legal profession which practitioners have failed to recognised, saying “conflict of interest- that is one subject that very often lawyers don’t even see as a problem in Ghana”.
He recounted a complaint made to him recently about the conduct of a lawyer who bought the subject matter of an auction in a case that the said lawyer was handling, adding, “that is a clear case of conflict of interest and that could lead to disbarment in Ghana”
One of the speakers at the training and a partner of White and Case, a law firm in London, Jason Hardley, urged lawyers to engage in pro bono cases, contribute to charity activities and hold politicians accountable.