A private legal practitioner, Muda Ade Lawal, who is one of the lawyer’s of embattled businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome, was on Tuesday humbled by a panel of five Supreme Court judges when he appeared before them.
The lawyer had filed a repeat application for stay of execution of the court orders for the state to sell off Woyome’s properties to offset the GH¢51.2 million he fraudulently took from the state as judgment debt.
But the move turned into an embarrassing one for the lawyer who was criticised by the Supreme Court judges for disregarding the tenets of the legal profession and ‘blindly’ following the demands of his client.
Just when Mr. Lawal moved his application for stay of execution, Justice Sule Nasiru Gbadegbe interjected and asked if counsel had not already filed and moved the same application which was dismissed by the court.
The judge also pointed out to the lawyer that the application was the same as the earlier one which was dismissed except that Mr. Woyome had made a new promise in the new one.
Justice Gbadegbe also admonished the lawyer to be mindful of the impression he creates for himself as he may not be taken seriously the next time he appears before the court after filing such an application.
The lawyer agreed that the application was essentially the same as the earlier one except that Mr. Woyome had made a firm promise this time to pay GH¢10 million now and pay off the rest of the debt in 12 months if the application was granted.
Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, another member of the panel, recounted how the earlier application was moved and subsequently dismissed as having no merit.
He said Mr. Woyome, in spite of the ruling, has since not paid the money but had returned to the court to make another promise.
He wondered how the lawyer could repeat the application that had been dismissed by the Supreme Court and thought the judges would not detect it.
Justice Jones Victor Dotse, another judge, reminded the lawyer that he is an officer of the court and anytime clients approached him with such issues he should be able to advise them professionally.
Mr. Lawal was then faced with the decision of a punitive cost being awarded against him or his conduct reported to the General Legal Council for possible disciplinary action.
He attempted to withdraw the application but the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, who was presiding over the panel, told him that he had already moved it and could not be withdrawn.
The application was subsequently dismissed for being unmeritorious and a punitive cost of GH¢5,000 was awarded. It is supposed to be paid by the lawyer himself instead of the client within two weeks.
The Supreme Court in October last year dismissed Woyome’s application for stay of execution to stop the state from selling his properties to offset his GH¢46 million debt.
His lawyer had filed the application pleading with the court to put on hold the sale of two of his mansions claiming that he was determined to pay the money if the execution of the court order was stayed.
The application was, however, opposed by the Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, saying if Mr. Woyome was willing to pay the money he would have paid the GH¢10 million instead of filing an application for stay of execution.
The panel presided over by Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and assisted by Justices Sule Gbadegbe, Alfred Benin, Samuel Marful-Sau and Agnes Dordzie dismissed the application as unmeritorious.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak