A Representative of Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mr. Alfred
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo;
The Provost of the College of Humanities, Professor Daniel Frimpong Ofori;
The Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law, Professor Raymond A. Atuguba;
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana
Former Director of the Ghana School of Law, Mr. Prempeh
The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Yaw Acheampong Boafo;
Staff of the University of Ghana School of Law;
Students of the University of Ghana School of Law;
Alumni of the University of Ghana School of Law;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you very much for the kind invitation to be a guest this afternoon in this exciting event. It is exciting because of the many layers of strength that will occur in the few hours that we are here.
First, there is the launch of the alumni homecoming celebration, and second, the breaking of ground from which the New University of Ghana School of Law Building Complex will emerge as an iconic reminder of the excellence of this cherished premier school of law in this country. I am delighted to be invited to this momentous occasion not only because I am a proud alumnus of the University of Ghana School of Law, as we currently know it, but also because the two projects reflect at various levels, the tradition of visionary approaches to achievement that the University of Ghana has always been known for.
Allow me to express my gratitude to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana and the Deans of the University of Ghana School of Law, for nurturing and actualizing the vision of creating a space that is appropriately designed, furnished and equipped to house facilities that are important for the study and practice of law. In this vision, we are expecting to rise out of the ground, a multi-level library, a 1500-seater auditorium––which will be the second largest in the country–– moot court facilities and an Information Technology equipment, including equipment for persons with special needs such as the visually impaired. The New University of Ghana School of Law Building Complex will also serve as home for six (6) Research Centres that would produce cutting-edge knowledge to support various reform initiatives in our legal community. I am informed that they are the Democratic Vigilance Program; the Ocean Governance Program; the Decent Work Program; the Data Governance and Digital Rights Program; the Legal History for Human Rights Program; and the Law and Development Program. Aside the Research Centers, the School has also established 38 new Masters Programs that train many professionals in aspects of the law that pertain to their work. The 38 Masters Programs accord with critical areas of national development, including programs on national security, public administration, energy and natural resources.
By all standards, this will showcase a world class facility, surpassing those available to many schools of law around the globe. It is reflective of the spirit of leadership and excellence that the University of Ghana, and its school of law, has always had.
Please allow me to share some thoughts on growth. As we are all aware, growth is not perceptible. It happens away from the public eye, but becomes evident with time. Wherever there is growth such as with a baby or plant, it means that there is a good soil or foundation for it to be rooted in. There is a nurturing environment for it to push out of, and there is strength of leadership to protect it till it is fully expressed. When I came to the University of Ghana in 1980, we studied from behind the big trees near the north-western end of the University. Our class room was one big room, and my class was made up of fewer than one hundred people. For 45 years, the University of Ghana faculty of Law stood as the only faculty of law in Ghana. During this period, it incubated and housed almost all of the legal knowledge infrastructure for the training of lawyers and for the practice of law. The University of Ghana School of Law Library also served as the main law library for the entire country.
Over the forty years since I left the faculty of law, there has been growth of the faculty to become a stand-alone School of the University. The school has moved into facilities that by all standards, are acceptable. The numbers of students and faculty and administrators have grown exponentially. And though the numbers of universities offering the study of law in Ghana have multiplied, the learning of law in the University of Ghana has remained the undoubted champion of legal training. The ground has remained strong and tended, the nurturing has remained exceptional, and the leadership has carried all the strands of strength required to lead the exponential growth of learning of law in the country. Clearly therefore, it is important for this standard-setting institution to continue to be a pacesetter and to assist the newer law faculties in enhancing the quality of their programs and, ultimately, the quality of rule of law in this country.
Allow me to congratulate Dean Atuguba, and all his predecessors who have given the nation the gift of themselves, and continue to do so in this direction.
But as we all know, though one may obtain a degree in law at a University, the practice of law as a profession is guided by the Legal Profession Act 1960 Act 32, currently being reviewed for amendment, Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules 2020 LI 2423, Legal Profession (Professional and Post Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018 LI 2355, Legal Profession (Disciplinary Committee) Rules 2020 LI 2424 etc. The body that administers this law and attendant rules and regulations is the General Legal Council.
Its membership is representative of the administrators of legal learning and professional practice of law, and so, it has representation from faculties of law and Academia, the Bar Association, and the Judiciary. It is chaired by the Chief Justice. It is from this Council that decisions have to be made to keep a keen eye not only on the subjects and curriculum set for learning of law, but the facilities created for learning, and the regulation of professional conduct of law students of law. Clearly, this is an onerous responsibility that cannot be discharged without an appreciation of the need for high standards in the facilities and approaches to learning that will aid in the understanding and application of law when an institution presents itself as a center for learning of law, and for administration and implementation of law.
This morning therefore, allow me to use this opportunity invite all faculties of law and institutions, including parliament and all persons involved in the learning, implementation and application of law to see the necessity of deepening the investment made in understanding the nature of law and the rule of law. I am hopeful that the envisioned state-of the-art facility will cut the sod for will not only contribute significantly to legal education in the country, but will also act as a leadership beacon to all involved in the learning, administration and implementation of law and justice in the country. I know that the New University of Ghana School of Law Building Complex will present a practical expression of the atmosphere that fosters critical thinking and innovative research in law. Many seminars, workshops, and think tanks to shape a coherent and harmonious whole for the learning and administration of law and justice should also flow out of here. Because, we all should have no doubt that, it is critical thinking, and deep intellectual appraisal of the rule of law, that we need as a country if we are to succeed in the grasp for economic and social growth as designed in the 1992 Constitution. Public discussions and discourse in all sectors of our political and social economy should stand on the solid appreciation of the shape of our Constitution, from which all our laws are shaped, and not individual desires.
From the end of the Judiciary, I can say that as Chief Justice, I am looking forward to building on the steady growth of learning, administrative excellence, push for judicial efficiency, and building of physical facilities that my predecessors of the last three decades commenced, and I know that all institutions in the learning, administration, implementation of law will support me in this journey. We are all one of a giant whole that is the edifice of law and justice. And we must hold each other’s hand so that we can serve the one constituency that we have – the people of Ghana – better and excellently. We have only one country, and we must serve it, with all the resources that we can mobilize. I therefore call on alumni, the private sector and public institutions to donate generously to this project. It is evident that the University of Ghana School of Law has commenced construction of the Building Complex with their own resources and with a strong push from alumni and corporate bodies, the School will be able to complete the project within the two-year project timeline. It is with much joy therefore, that I declare the homecoming week, along with the sod-cutting ceremony, duly launched.
May God bless the University of Ghana, the University of Ghana School of Law and our nation Ghana, and make us great and strong. Thank you very much.