President of the Ghana Bar Association, GBA, has responded to criticism from within and without the legal fraternity about the mode of dressing lawyers are mandated to observe while in active practice.
According to him, it was a unanimous decision taken by the GBA’s highest decision-making body, the Conference, that all lawyers adhere to wearing wigs and gowns.
GhanaWeb monitored comments he made on the September 9, 2021, edition of the Good Evening Ghana show, where he reiterated his personal support for the decision taken during the Bar Conference in Sunyani four years ago.
“In 2017, we had a conference in Sunyani and … unanimously it was carried that we should wear the wig and gown. So we communicated to the then Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo that the bar itself said that we will wear the wig and gown. It was a conference decision, the highest decision-making body.
“So if we want to change it, we have to have a critical mass go back to the conference and say we don’t want to wear the wig and gown. Once we resolve, we tell the General Legal Council and the Chief Justice will have to act. So that is how it works,” he explained to host Paul Adom-Otchere.
Asked whether he did not see the current arrangement as a colonial carryover and that places from where Ghana inherited the dressing were largely changing, he said despite being for the optics, the uniform brought orderliness and formality to the practice.
“I don’t care, I believe that it brings order to the bar. There is that formality, when you go to the court and you see your lawyer, you say ‘Oh, that’s my lawyer’,” he said.
Recently, Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah issued a circular asking especially Judges and Professional Magistrates to abide by the known dress code and to check that lawyers who appear before them are also appropriately dressed.
“Judges and Professional Magistrates are reminded of the requirement to be fully robed in a Wig and Gown, for Court sittings at all times,” the September 3, 2021, circular read in part.
If further outlined attires that were acceptable to be worn underneath the robes, among others: appropriately formal dark dress or suit (black), barrister’s trousers with Bar waistcoat, white tunic shirt or white blouse with collar/collarette, court band tie/bibs, studs, and stiffeners to be accompanied by dark socks and black shoes.
The circular signed by the CJ continued: “It is important to note that dressing in this manner helps to preserve decorum, seriousness and formality of court proceedings and the importance of the proper administration of justice.”