The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has responded to critics of the Chief Justice’s directive to judges to hear cases of senior lawyers first.
The Chief Justice, Kwesi Anin-Yeboah on Monday, April 11 issued the circular to judges indicating that young lawyers need to learn from their senior colleagues.
To that end, the Chief Justice said “I would request all Trial Court Judges to strictly adhere to this age-old tradition and resort to inviting applications from Seniors first.
“The Legal Profession, as we know, is steeped in traditions and ceremonies. One of the traditions observed is the practice of calling cases of persons whose names are on the roll of Lawyers, in order of seniority of enrolment, notwithstanding the notion of equality at the Bar.
“This practice, among other benefits, affords the young Lawyer the opportunity to learn from Seniors to whom they would not ordinarily be exposed to; thus, enriching the whole legal training experience beyond what is taught in Chambers and other places of work.
“It has recently been drawn to my attention, that some Trial Court Judges are not observing this practice in court.
“Whilst the right to call a case out of turn is not absolute and is exercisable subject to the convenience of the court, for the reasons mentioned above, I would request all Trial Court Judges to strictly adhere to this age-old tradition and resort to inviting applications from Seniors first. I hope I can count on your cooperation,” the circular said.
Following this directive, a United States-based Ghanaian Professor, Kwaku Asare who is also a legal practitioner challenged the directive saying, any judge who believes that junior lawyers and their clients should spend time watching senior lawyers, is likely to be biased.
“Justice is meaningless if it becomes a respector of senior lawyers. Judges swear to truly and faithfully perform the functions of their office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and MUST not favour senior lawyers, thereby showing ill-will to junior lawyers.
“The judge who believes that junior lawyers and their clients should spend their time watching senior lawyers, is likely to be biased, even if unconsciously, by that belief,” Prof Asare wrote on his Facebook page.
But the GBA says it supports the directive.
“The GBA fully and completely associates itself with the subject matter under reference and lend full support to the adherence to the old age tradition and practice among members of the legal fraternity, especially court room practitioners, of calling cases of person whose names are on the roll of lawyers , in order of seniority of enrolment, notwithstanding the notion of equality at the Bar,” a statement issued by the association on Thursday April 14 said.
The statement added “The GBA has taken note of the various shades of comments and opinions expressed by different persons, particularly persons who are not known to the GBA to have been called to the Bar in Ghana, and therefore do not practice in the courts of Ghana, on the Chief Justices position on the age-old tradition and practices, and wish to state that the courtroom practice in Ghana and for that matter the legal profession in Ghana is characterized by certain revered age-old traditions, ceremonies and practices, which must not be done away with or compromise under circumstances.”
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