July 16, 2018

Parliament has passed into law the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017, which is awaiting Presidential assent to become law.

The Bill seeks to provide workable guidelines to access legal aid and to also introduce the option of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in granting an application for legal aid.

In memorandum written by The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo forwarded to Parliament during the consideration of The Bill, stated that, Regional and District Offices and Community Mediation Centre’s are provided for, to deliver legal aid where it is most required.

According to her, “the conditions of service for the legal and other staff of the Commission are also a new feature introduced by The Bill, clause I to 4 deal with the establishment of the Legal Aid Commission.

The Commission may also enter into agreements for the provision of legal aid to citizens in proceedings outside the country with bodies which perform functions outside Ghana similar to those of the Commission. Clause 4 deals with the independence-of the Commission.

“Except as provided by the Constitution, the Commission is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority in the performance of its function”. .

A sound legal framework for the provision of a legal aid will benefit the poor and vulnerable and ensure the achievement of liberty, equality of opportunity, freedom and justice as well as the protection and preservation of fundamental human rights and freedoms as stated in the preamble to the Constitution”.

The purpose of the Bill is to revise The Legal Aid Scheme Act, 1997 (Act 542) to establish The Legal Aid Commission to provide legal aid and other legal services to individuals in accordance with Article 14, 17 and 294 of The 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com