”Restructure Pro Bono Services”- Francis-Xavier Sosu
Human Rights lawyer, Francis-Xavier Sosu has stated that pro bono legal services should be revised from making it absolutely free.
Mr. Sosu suggested that there should be some form of regulation to reduce remuneration in cases regarding pro bono and not to make it absolutely free.
He, however, stated that there could be instances where a lawyer would want to help a close relative or friend in a legal case without a fee.
“Yes pro bono is not free, free –that is a reason every lawyer must be committed to pro bono legal services in Ghana,” he said.
According to him, pro bono services should be made mandatory for renewal of licence by lawyers, adding that meeting such a requirement must not be at the whim of lawyers but legally binding.
Pro bono which translates in English as ‘for the public good’ refers to professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. The term typically refers to provision of legal services by legal professionals for people who are unable to afford them.
He made these comments on Joy news on October 9.
The Head of Legal Aid Commission, Accra, Nelson Mawutor Kporha has bemoaned the major challenge of the Legal Aid Commission, which is the unavailability of funds.
According to him, the challenge makes it impossible for the Commission to pay the meagre fees due lawyers for their pro bono services.
“Per the Legal Aid Commission Act 977, 2018, you have three categories of legal personnel. That is, lawyers appointed by the Commission, lawyers assigned by the National Service Secretariat and lawyers who devote their time in a year to do free legal services. These categories of lawyers when they are done with their cases and file their judgement, we are supposed to pay them 20 percent of the bascule of fees. I don’t remember the last time these monies have been paid. We are not able to meet this obligation to lawyers on our register we assign cases,” he revealed.
He noted that “every lawyer in the country should be interested in pro bono cases.”
Meanwhile, the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has urged the government to establish an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) centre in Accra that can potentially become the forum of choice for the settlement of commercial disputes in Africa.
With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat located in Ghana, a renowned ADR centre, the GBA said, was an advantage the country could explore to position itself as the centre of excellence in commercial dispute settlement on the continent.
The President of the GBA, Yaw Acheampong Boafo, said in an exclusive interview in Accra last Wednesday that the country should not be satisfied with only the AfCFTA Secretariat but also take advantage of other benefits from the free trade area arrangement to enhance development.
With an ADR centre, Accra could become like London, which had made legal services an integral part of its services sector, contributing substantially to the economy of the United Kingdom.
“With a world-class state-sponsored ADR centre in Accra, there will be increased traffic for its services. This will have a ripple effect on other services, such as hospitality, tourism and banking”.
“It will also provide more opportunities for experts. Experts’ advice is employed in ADR cases, so we are not talking about only lawyers but also accountants, engineers, maritime experts, auditors, surveyors and many others,” he said.