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05 July 2017

Gen. Legal Council’s advertising restrictions on lawyers challenged at Supreme Court

A private Ghanaian has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the guidelines by the General Legal Council (GLC) that bars lawyers from touting and advertisement.

Emmanuel Korsi Senyo is seeking the court’s declaration that the GLC’s guidelines on how Lawyers can create websites and place their profiles on the internet violate the 1992 Constitution if aspects of the rules guiding the legal profession are not amended.

He also wants a “declaration that the Defendant’s [General Legal Council] notice placed on its website on the 12 of June, 2017 with the heading “Guidelines for Lawyers to Create Websites & Place Their Profile on the Internet”, seeking to allow some form of advertising by lawyers without amending or revoking Rule 2 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules, 1969 (LI 613) is in violation of Articles 11(7), 23, 296(a) and (b) and 297(d) of the 1992 Constitution.”

Per the General Legal Council’s Rule on “Advertising Touting and Publicity” a legal practioner must adhere to the following:

“(1) A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly apply for or seek instructions for professional business, or do or permit in the carrying on of his practice any act or thing which can reasonably be regarded as touting or advertising or as calculated to attract business unfairly.

(2) It is the duty of every lawyer at all times to uphold the dignity and high standing of his profession and his own dignity and high standing as a member of it.

“(3) It is contrary to professional etiquette for a lawyer to do or cause or allow to be done anything for the purpose of touting directly or indirectly, or which is calculated to suggest that it is done for that purpose.

“(4) While a lawyer is entitled to such personal advertisement as is a necessary consequence of the proper exercise of his profession, or of any act otherwise properly done by him, it is contrary to professional etiquette for a lawyer to do or cause or allow to be done anything with the primary motive of personal advertisement or anything calculated to suggest that it is so motivated.”

Mr Emmanuel Korsi Senyo action comes at a time renowned human rights lawyer, Francis-Xavier Sosu, is in court challenging a two-year ban hand him by the legal profession regulator for touting and advertising.

Several lawyers and other members of the society in the wake of the ban on Mr Sosu, have called on the GLC to scrap its outmoded restriction on advertising for members lawyers.

Below are the three reliefs Mr Senyo is seeking in his suit at the Supreme Court.

1. A declaration that the Defendant’s notice placed on its website on the 12 of June, 2017 with the heading “Guidelines for Lawyers to Create Websites & Place Their Profile on the Internet”, seeking to allow some form of advertising by lawyers without amending or revoking Rule 2 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules, 1969 (LI 613) is in violation of Articles 11(7), 23, 296(a) and (b) and 297(d) of the 1992 Constitution.

2. A declaration that the Notice containing “Guidelines for Lawyers to Create Websites & Place Their Profile on the Internet” is null and void as same is in violation of Articles 11(7), 23, 296(a) and (b) and 297(d) of the 1992 Constitution.

3. Any other order(s) that this Honourable Court may deem fit to make.

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