General News of Sunday, 23 July 2017
The entire Electoral Commission (EC), should be held responsible, if there was any breach in the procurement process to retain [email protected] to provide legal services to the commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the EC has said.
The “concerned staff” of the EC in their petition to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), asking for investigations into the leadership of Mrs Osei at the EC, had alleged that the law firm, [email protected], had been providing legal services to the EC without a contract.
The “concerned staff” have also petitioned the Office of the President on similar issues sent to the EOCO, asking for impeachment proceedings to be initiated against Mrs Osei for misconduct and conflict of interest.
Below is the claim and response on the legal services issue
Claim 5: “Mrs. Charlotte Osei, without recourse to the Commission engaged the Service of lawyers [email protected] without going through the procurement process.
This service engagement goes contrary to the Public Procurement Act. As at now, there is no formal contractual arrangement between the Commission and the Solicitors. The basis of fees computation for services rendered by these lawyers still remains unknown.”
Response 5: [email protected] Law was retained on the basis of a decision of the Commission taken at a Commission meeting of September 2015. If there has been any breach in the procurement process, then the entire Commission must be held responsible.
It was made clear at the meeting that fees for litigation related work cannot be agreed ahead as it would depend on the complexity of each case and the court where a case was filed.
For instance, Supreme Court cases are usually billed higher than cases conducted at the High Court. It was therefore the function of the Chairperson to refer all incoming lawsuits to [email protected] on the basis of the Commission’s decision.
It was the function of the Deputy Chairperson CS [Corporate Services] to negotiate the fees for each matter referred with [email protected] Indeed, the same Deputy Chairperson CS has previously failed to negotiate fees with previous counsel retained by the Commission or ensure that they are paid for legal work done.
Some of these payments remain outstanding four years after services have been rendered.
If it is true that the Chairperson unilaterally retained [email protected], members of the Commission including the two Deputy Chairpersons would clearly have to explain the basis for meetings held between the entire Commission and Lawyer T. Sory, and other meetings between management and executive management staff, and staff of [email protected] to discuss pending cases.
The petitioners may not be staff of the Commission as they claim and so may not be privy to the fact that on November 16, 2016, [email protected] wrote to the Commission providing a fee quote for its services and offering a flat rate fee for High Court cases and Supreme Court cases which was accepted.
The said letter is attached hereto and marked ‘CO5A’. Further, any payments made to [email protected] have been effected by the Director Finance under the supervision of the Deputy Chairperson CS. If the petitioners have no knowledge of the arrangements with [email protected], one wonders the basis for payments made to [email protected] without the approval or knowledge of the Chairperson.
The petitioners in the interest of fairness and transparency, may wish to present the agreement between the Commission and its previous legal counsel, specifying the scope of services and agreed fees. In which case, it would be helpful to explain why the Commission as at the date of the alleged petition, has been unable to pay its lawyers for the 2013 Presidential election petition.
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