Atuguba blasts lawyers …over ethical breaches

Justice William Atuguba

Justice William Atuguba

A Supreme Court Judge, Justice William Atuguba has expressed worry over the fallen standards and disregard for the rules of conduct of lawyers in the country.

“As we all know, our profession in Ghana, has witnessed grave lapses and breaches of the rules of conduct that we as lawyers are required to uphold.

“The ethical behaviour of many of our colleagues has fallen short of what is expected and indeed required of lawyers,” he added.

He made these remarks yesterday at the launch of the Legal Ethics training programme 2016, at the New Court Complex in Accra.

Justice Atuguba, said when lawyers disregard their code of ethics, they bring institutions into disrepute, undermine the credibility of  democracy and the trust that the good people of Ghana, have put in the legal fraternity.

“We all see the tragedies that follow when lawyers do not comply with the legal ethical rules that they must obey,” he noted.

He, therefore, cautioned lawyers to heed to the conduct of their profession, adding that failure to comply with highest standards of professional conduct had devastating consequences for the individuals involved in the breach of ethical rules.

Justice Atuguba said, the initiative and training programme could not have come at a more auspicious time, adding that legal ethics and professional responsibility were now more than ever at the forefront of the justice delivery.

“Following the legal ethical rules of our profession is the right thing to do for us all: judges, lawyers, prosecutors, law students. It is the right thing to do for society and for the benefit of the peoples of Ghana and our country overall, complying with the ethical rules is our fundamental obligation as lawyers,” he said.

He said lawyers, in the different roles  played in the legal system have been given the great and sacred task to administer the law; of deciding where they draw the boundaries between right and wrong.

Justice Atuguba added that lawyers had a responsibility and are required to exercise legal responsibilities with the highest standards of professionalism.

He charged private practitioners to constantly remind themselves of the rules of professional responsibility in the code of conduct adopted by the Ghana Bar Association.

He charged Law students to be circumspect, adding that they were the future of the legal profession, urging them to discuss and learn about legal ethics at every stage of their legal education, to ensure that legal ethics was part of the fabric of what it means to be a lawyer.

Justice Atuguba therefore entreated them to treasure what they learn in the next few days, openly discuss the challenges that you face and the dilemmas that they have encountered in their legal education.

He noted that the legal profession in Ghana needed more such programmes to strengthen the commitment to legal ethics and demand full adherence to the highest standards of professional conduct to benefit the profession, adding that it will as well strengthen democracy, the rule of law and to contribute to the development of Ghana.

The Legal ethics programme is an intense course aimed at acquainting students with the main principles and rules governing professional practice.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme 

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