Nation could produce lawyers who do not understand law – Prof. Kotey

A nominee for Supreme Court Justice, Prof Emmanuel Nii Ashie Kotey has told the Appointments Committee of Parliament that legal education in Ghana presently needs massive reforms otherwise there would be a point that the country will be producing lawyers who do not have any knowledge of the law.

He said currently legal education in Ghana is at the crossroads because to the best of his knowledge as a Professor in law some students with  degree in law who want to pursue masters programme in law do not even know what a lease is or what the requirements of a valid contract are.

“Legal education needs root to branch reforms. From accreditation of the Law Faculties, ” he said adding that if he had his own way he would recommend that all the law faculties in the universities would be disaccredited for them to reapply  based on the quality of lecturers, classroom space, libraries and other important resources for effective training.

“Mr chairman, I was on an interview panel interviewing students with degree in law, that is LLB, who want to do masters programme in law and you would be surprised to know that some of the students could not tell what a lease is, the requirements of a valid contracts. When we asked one student to discuss a single case of constitutional law he could not, I then asked about the 31st December case which he retorted ‘Is it the 31st December Women Movement?”.

He said the matter is so serious that if care is not taken the nation will be producing lawyers who do not know any law.

When asked about his view on suggestions that the Ghana School of Law must have campuses in all  public universities with Law Faculties, he said that since the matter is at the Supreme Court it will be prejudicial to comment on it.

When Prof Kotey who was the former Dean of the University of Ghana Law Faculty and who has extensive legal knowledge on land administration was asked by a member of the Committee, Joseph Yieleh Chireh whether he agrees to a decision for a mining company to mine in a Forest Reserve, he said it will depend on the circumstances and priorities of the nation.

According to him, to allow mining in the forest reserve one will have to look at cost-benefit analysis as well as the environmental impact and the possibilities of planting trees or growing new forest elsewhere.

The nominee also told the committee that he does not believe in capital punishment because it is not deterring enough.

He however said that he subscribes to the capital punishment if it used in extreme cases where an armed robber will intentionally kill somebody because he wants to steal from that person since that armed robber also does not deserve to live.

When asked about whether there should be ceiling on the number of Supreme Court justices, Prof Kotey said he is generally in favour of a ceiling but now the Supreme Court in Ghana has extensive jurisdiction which might require more Justices.

“Until we have been able to creatively reduce the jurisdiction, the ceiling may not matter . I will be in favour of seeking ways to reducing the rather extensive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to justify the ceiling,” he said

He assured the Appointments Committee that when he is approved he will dispense justice impartially because he stands for fairness and impartiality.