General News of Wednesday, 27 September 2017
The Accra High Court has ordered the Judicial Secretary, Mr Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, to retract a statement directed at the law courts not to entertain Lawyer Hansen Kwadwo Koduah, who was suspended by the General Legal Council (GLC).
According to the court, presided over by Mr Justice Kweku T. Ackaah-Boafo, Lawyer Koduah’s three years’ suspension by the GLC had been put on hold by the Court of Appeal, pending the determination of his (Koduah’s) appeal.
“The respondent (Judicial Secretary) is ordered to retract the circular communicated to all courts that the applicant (Koduah) must not be granted audience pursuant to the orders/directive of the Court of Appeal,’’ the court ruled.
The court’s decision followed a mandamus application filed by Lawyer Koduah that sought for an order compelling the Judicial Secretary to retract the said directive.
Lawyer Koduah, in his application, described the directive by the Judicial Secretary as “highly contemptuous, illegal and inconsistent with the binding orders of the Court of Appeal’’.
Lawyer Koduah was suspended by the GLC on June 9, 2016 for three years for professional misconduct on allegations of overcharging his client.
He was alleged to have colluded with a filling clerk, Alfred Asamoah, to convince his client to pay GH¢50,000 as filing fees, instead of the statutory fee of GH¢748.
But Mr Koduah denied any wrongdoing and filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the GLC.
On July 26, 2016, the Court of Appeal, presided over by a single justice, Mr Justice F. G. Korbieh, stayed the suspension, pending the outcome of the appeal, on the basis that the lawyer had good grounds for appeal.
The GLC appealed Mr Justice Kobieh’s decision, and on November 2, 2016, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal reversed the stay of suspension.
Lawyer Koduah, in his application for mandamus, averred that when the three-member panel reversed Mr Justice Korbieh’s decision, he was indisposed and, therefore, could not file an affidavit in opposition.
After he had recovered, he filed a notice to challenge the decision of the three-member court and, on February 8, 2017, a differently constituted three-member panel of the Court of Appeal set aside the decision of the first panel.
In view of that, he said, he applied for a renewal of his solicitor’s licence, and on March 7, 2017, the GLC renewed the licence.
Based on that development, the Court of Appeal, on March 22, 2017, ordered the Judicial Secretary to inform all the courts in the country about the new development and Lawyer Koduah’s current status.
Mr Koduah, in his application, explained that he had served a copy of the Court of Appeal order on the Judicial Secretary, but instead of “complying, the Judicial Secretary wrote to all the courts in Ghana not to grant me audience’’.
Also, the Judicial Secretary, he said, wrote a letter to him on April 10, 2017, directing him to return his solicitor’s licence because his suspension had not been reversed.
In his affidavit in opposition, however, Mr Justice Poku-Acheampong described the mandamus application by Mr Koduah as incompetent.
He argued that the application fell short of a mandamus because it did not complain about his failure to comply with a statutory duty but rather “an alleged failure to comply with a Court of Appeal order’’.
He also argued that the application was intended to mislead the court because the Court of Appeal did not make any order on February 8, 2017 for Lawyer Koduah’s suspension to be stayed.
But, in its ruling, the High Court held that it was the duty of the Judicial Secretary to retract the said directive he issued to the law courts, a duty which he must not ignore.
“It is absolutely necessary for the respondent to obey the valid order of the Court of Appeal by retracting the circular he issued in his capacity as the Judicial Secretary and Secretary to the General Legal Council,’’ it held.