President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched two statutory funds which aim to improve access to legal services and support reforms of the country’s laws.
The Legal Aid Fund and the Law Reform Fund were launched at the auditorium of the Law Court Complex in Accra yesterday with the seed money of GH¢1 million each.
The purpose of the Legal Aid Fund is to ensure that high legal fees do not become a barrier by providing financial support to poor and vulnerable people in need of legal services.
The Law Reform Fund will be used to undertake projects to develop and reform laws and develop human resources in law reform and related purposes.
Launching the funds, President Akufo-Addo said the Legal Aid Fund would enable the Legal Aid Commission to support vulnerable people to access legal services such as advice, representation, and education on legal matters.
The fund, he indicated, would ensure fairness and equity in society by ensuring that poor and vulnerable people got access to justice delivery.
Notwithstanding the logistical and human resource challenges of the Legal Aid Commission, the President indicated that the commission had handled thousands of cases nationwide.
He pledged the government’s commitment to addressing the resource needs of the commission to ensure that the institution delivered on its mandate enshrined in the Legal Aid Commission Act 2008, (Act 977)
The Law Reform Fund, which was established under the Law Reform Commission Act 2011 (Act 822), would support research to help refine the country’s laws, he said
President Akufo-Addo said the fund would strengthen the Law Reform Commission to identify particular areas of law for reform.
The fund would enable the commission to, among other things, prepare and submit through the Minister of Justice, proposals for the examination of different aspects of the law, he said.
The President added that the commission would make practical recommendations for the development, simplification, and modernisation of the law.
President Akufo-Addo made a personal donation of GH¢100,000 to each fund and expressed the government’s commitment to resource the two commissions to help improve access and the quality of justice delivery in the country.
Supreme Court Judge, Justice Jones Dotse, who represented the Chief Justice, commended the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice for its role in the establishment of the two funds.
According to him, the country’s laws needed reforms to address injustice and other challenges in the legal statutes and justice delivery.
On the issue of high legal fees in the country, he stressed, while commending the establishment of the Legal Aid Fund, the need for the General Legal Council to ensure that lawyers took up a number of pro-bono cases compulsorily as a requirement to renew their licenses.
That, according to him, would ensure that the poor and vulnerable got access to legal services to reduce the burden on the Legal Aid Fund.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, said the two funds would be permanent funds and appealed to the public to donate the funds to support access and the quality of justice delivery in the country.
“Lawyers may even decide to bequeath a part of their earthly possessions upon their death to the support of the Legal Aid Commission and the Law Reform Commission. I am in no doubt that the two funds will enjoy the maximum support of all,” he said.
BY YAW KYEI