Foreign Affairs Ministry beefs up legal capacity

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has beefed up its legal and consular bureau to forestall instances of inadequate legal representation in court cases that had led to needless judgement debts in the past.

To this end, more lawyers have been employed to provide adequate expertise and strengthen the legal bureau of the ministry to deal with legal matters.

The Deputy Director at the Legal and Consular Bureau of the ministry, Mr Makarius Akanbong, said this when he appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission to provide the commission with information on intentions to sue the ministry.

He was accompanied by Mrs Khalilah Hackman, also of the Legal and Consular Bureau of the ministry. Changes at the ministry

The Sole Commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau, sought to find out what changes had been effected at the Legal Bureau of the ministry, noting that in the past, a good number of court cases against the ministry had been lost due to inadequate legal representation.

Justice Apau said it was unfortunate that the various heads of state institutions had the tendency to ignore the setting up of robust legal departments to deal with legal issues that came up in their institutions.

Rather, the only times they resorted to those departments were when serious legal issues reared their heads.

He, therefore, stressed the need for the proper engagement of lawyers to provide the needed legal services for institutions to avoid needless instances of judgement debts.

Justice Apau was glad that the ministry had learnt its lessons after it had become apparent that many cases that had come up against it had been lost through apparent negligence. Cases against ministry

Mr Akanbong told the commission that currently there were four cases in court against the ministry.

In one of those cases, African Catering Services had instituted a suit for claims arising out of a contractual agreement to provide catering services for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries Conference in Ghana.

Also, a driver formerly stationed in the Côte d’Ivoire Mission has brought a suit against the ministry for wrongful dismissal.

He said one Chancellor Cole had also sued the ministry on the grounds that his certificate and an amount that had been given to the mission in the UK for onward remittance to him had been lost while they were in the custody of the mission.

The last case, he said, had to do with a lady in the Paris Mission who had also sued for wrongful dismissal.

Apart from those cases, Mr Akanbong said there were some labour issues which were being thrashed out but expressed the hope that based on their magnitude they might not end up in court.

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