The General Legal Council (GLC) has been dragged to the Supreme Court of Ghana for engaging in an alleged illegality by subtly amending the law prohibiting lawyers from touting and advertisement without recourse to Parliament.
The Legal Profession Rules of 1969, L.I. 613 and the Code of Ethics of the Ghana Bar Association passed pursuant to section 7(2) (b) and 15 of the Professional Bodies Registration Decree of 1973 (NRCD 143) prohibit lawyers from touting and advertisement.
Human rights lawyer, francis Xavier-Sosu was on June 1 this year handed a four-year ban by the GLC for among others for advertising of social network Facebook, a ban he is challenging at the Court of Appeal. His bane triggered criticisms of the law, which some legal experts said is retrogressive and ought to be abolished.
A notice issued by the GLC on June 12, 2017 appears to have softened the law to allow some form of online advertisement by lawyers, something that a private citizen, Emmanuel Korsi Senyo, has issued a writ at the Supreme Court to challenge. In relaxing the said law, the GLC argued that rules were passed between 1969 and 1973, at a time there was no Internet, hence drafters of the law did not make reference to it.
The GLC observed that with the upsurge of the internet in the 1990’s, the mode of communication throughout the world has changed for easy and instant access to information on the spot.
It said information has moved from hardcopies to soft copies format on the internet, hence it has adopted he International Bar Association guidelines on websites that was proposed to the GLC “to permit lawyers and law firms to create websites and place their profiles on the internet” using set guidelines.
But Mr Senyo is challenging the mandate of the GLC in amending the rules to allow lawyers create websites and has issued a writ to invoke the Supreme Court to declare such move unconstitutional.
For him, “seeking to allow some form of advertisement by lawyers without amending or revoking Rule 2 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules, 1969 (LI 613) is in violation of Articles 11(7), 23, 296(a) and (b) and 297(d) of the 1992 Constitution.”
He is thus praying the court to declare as null and void, the June 12, 2017 notice issued by the GLC “Guidelines for Lawyers to create websites & place their profile on the internet” as it violates of Articles 11(7), 23, 296(a) and (b) and 297(d) of the 1992 Constitution.