Law practice based on 4 unchangeable pillars – CJ to Law students
Justice Torkonoo indicated that discretion is exercised according to law but not plucked from the air.
The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah has outlined four (4) pillars upon which the practice of law must be constructed.
According to him, these pillars are constant and not affected in any way by modernity and uncertainty.
Delivering a speech on behalf of the Chief Justice at the UPSA LEGAL PROFESSION CONFERENCE AND MENTORSHIP FAIR, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Gertrude Torkonoo mentioned that Justice is always according to law per Article 125(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, but not morality or common sense.
She thus bemoaned a recent practice whereby certain persons including even lawyers proffer notions in discussions that have no basis in law.
“The first pillar is the concept of Justice. Justice is always according to law and never any notions of morality, common sense, or logic. It is a bit painful these days to listen to discussions some of which even involve lawyers bringing certain notions that have no basis in law and it is my prayer that as a law student, you will take these very seriously. As law students, this foundational understanding must sit firmly in any philosophy you dwell on,”
Touching on the content of the law, she indicated that if Justice is what the law says, then the content of law should constantly remain within the purview of everyone within the legal community when functioning within a corner of the law.
“In this dispensation of the 1992 constitution, Article 11(1) to (7) outlines an elaborate menu which gives us the content of law. The broad contours are found in the Constitution, Enactments made by Parliament, Orders, Rules and Regulations made by any person or authority under a power conferred by the Constitution, the existing law as at 1992, and the Common law. As law students, you must know that the common law of Ghana is larger in scope than the rules of law generally known as the Common law. It includes the doctrines of equity and rules of all Ghana’s customary laws.”
Moreover, Justice Torkonoo mentioned that the practice of law is always done within an industry which finds the Legislature which defines the structure and content of law and all persons given the power to create law by the 1992 Constitution and the Judiciary who interprets and apply the law as defined by the Legislature. Also academics who teach the basis of the law as created by the Legislature and lawyers who must advise and represent their clients to the truthful presentation of the law as defined by the Legislature, applied by the courts and taught to them by the academics.
Additionally, the Justice expressed worry about a recent commentary by a lawyer on the exercise of discretion by Judges to the effect that if the judges were exercising discretion, then why was there a discussion about the context of law within which the discretion was to be exercised?
In her response, Justice Torkonoo indicated that discretion is exercised according to law but not plucked from the air.
Also, she noted that just like every industry, Law is practiced with skills that include research skills, learning skills and ethical values that may be unwritten but are powerful.