Lawyers who betray and violate fundamental legal ethical rules should face the consequences of their actions and sanctions, Justice William Atuguba, a Supreme Court Judge has said.
Justice Atuguba noted that the law profession has witnessed grave lapses and breaches of the rule of conduct that lawyers are required to uphold.
He was speaking at the opening of a four-day Legal Ethics training for law students in the various universities, including University of Ghana, GIMPA and University of Cape Coast.
The programme organised by the Judicial Service in collaboration with Fordham Law School, Faculty of Law, GIMPA and White and Case, a global law firm in UK, would afford the students the opportunity to examine philosophical or moral grounds of professional ethics.
The students would be taken through areas such as conflict of interest, confidentiality and disclosure, anti-corruption, and pro bono legal assistance.
Mr Justice Atuguba said the ethical behaviour of many lawyers have fallen short of what is expected of them, adding some of them do not even comply with the ethics.
“They bring institutions in disrepute, undermine the credibility of the country’s democracy and the trust of the good people of Ghana have put in us,” he added.
He said failure to comply with highest standards of professional conducts has devastating consequences and urged lawyers to comply with ethical rules, which allow them to be at the centre of their professional conduct.
The Justice of the Supreme Court noted that as lawyers they have been given great and sacred task of administering the law, deciding on wrong and right, interpreting and drafting rules that regulated lives.
“This great responsibility that we have been tasked with requires all to exercise legal responsibility with the highest standards of professional conduct.
“We need to strengthen our commitment to legal ethics and demand full adherence to the benefit profession and strengthen Ghana’s democracy and rule of law,” he noted.
Mr Kofi Abotsi, Dean, Faculty of Law, GIMPA observed that legal ethics define professional practices and standards, adding that its absence would destroy the legal practice.
Mr Abotsi noted that the teaching of legal ethics in the various faculties has not been given much attention and urged various institutions to offer it the focus it deserves.
According to him corruption and professional malpractice had become rampant following various reports.
Mr Abotsi said some people do not see anything wrong when the issue of conflict of interest and collusion are raised.
He contended that some lawyers collude against their clients and forged unethical relationship with members of the bench and bar.
Mr Abotsi urged the participants not to compromise on corruption and engage in negative practices that would drag the law profession into disrepute.
Jason Yardley, Partner, White and Case, a global law firm in UK, said his outfit had positioned itself to extend social responsibility initiatives by executing pro bono cases and offering legal education.
He said lawyers’ reputation once lost could not be regained and advised them to consider their status when taking actions that are improper.