It appears clamouring by some lawyers, demanding amendment to an “archaic” rule banning lawyers from advertising on social media, cannot be met with ease as the Chief Justice nominee expresses distaste in their demand.
Although processes to amend such rules are available, Justice Sophia Akuffo, a justice of the Supreme Court who has been nominated by President Akufo-Addo to head Ghana’s judicial system, emphatically cautioned against actions that may erode the dignity of the bar.
Earlier this month, June, a renowned human rights lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu was banned from practising for three years by the General Legal Council for misconducting himself.
He was found guilty of advertising himself on facebook, a social media platform. He has appealed against the ban. Many lawyers have also criticised the ‘high handedness’ of the council as they demand that law banning lawyers from advertising is amended.
But when the 67-year-old Justice Sophia Akuffo appeared before Parliament’s Appointments Committee on Friday, she was clear about her stance on that demand.
“Dignity of the bar is important as dignity of the judiciary, the idea of lawyers touting themselves on social media is distasteful to me,” she stressed.
The action is considered to be an “improper conduct of a lawyer”, she explained, enumerating a number of actions including comporting yourself as a lawyer while dealing with your clients that must jealously be guarded.
The incoming Chief Justice although conceded that self advertising is permitted in certain jurisdiction, she also pointed out that the practice is frown on in many jurisdiction as well.
According to Madam Sophia Akuffo, a lawyer is permitted to set up a website and put “yourself on your website”, but was clear that facebook, twitter among others “will not fall in the permissible area”. Justice Sophia Akuffo was appointed to the Supreme Court together with three others including Justice William Atuguba in 1995.