Lawyer Francis Xavier Sosu has filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal challenging his suspension by the General Legal Council (GLC) from practising as a lawyer for three years.
The GLC, on June 1, 2017, suspended the human rights lawyer after it found him guilty for overcharging a client and also violating the legal profession’s code of conduct that prevents lawyers from advertising their services.
In his notice of appeal, Mr Sosu described his suspension as a “substantial miscarriage of justice’’ and a violation of Article 19 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.
Also, he was of the view that the suspension imposed on him was “harsh and excessive’’.
The legal practitioner is, therefore, seeking an order from the Court of Appeal dismissing his suspension.
Overestimation of legal fees
One of the reasons for Mr Sosu’s suspension, according to the GLC, was that he charged a client, known as Francis Agyare, GH¢50,000 as legal fee for a compensation claim of GH¢200,000.
The GLC, in its notice of suspension, stated that the legal fee charged by him was “excessive and an overestimation of the services rendered him when he represented to him that he was offering pro-bono legal service’’.
Mr Sosu, in his appeal, is challenging that claim of the GLC, arguing that there is “no law specifically making overestimation of legal fee a grave misconduct in professional respect’’.
Also, he argues that Rule 9(9) of the Legal Profession (Profession Conduct and Etiquette) Rules 1969, LI 613 which makes overestimation of legal fee an offence is “vague and/or overboard and is inconsistent with Article 19(11) of the 1992 Constitution’’.
Article 19 (11) of the 1992 Constitution prescribes that “no person shall be convicted of a criminal offence unless the offence is defined and the penalty for it is prescribed in a written law’’.
The legal practitioner is also challenging another aspect of his suspension which the GLC attributed to his failure to appear before its disciplinary committee during its sitting on June 9, 2016.
According to him, the GLC was not a court of competent jurisdiction and, therefore, it erred in law by convicting him for failing to appear before it on that particular day.
Another leg of the appeal relates to his conviction of personal touting and advertising by the GLC.
According to the GLC, Mr Sosu had, on two different occasions, advertised his firm’s name, address and telephone numbers on Facebook, with “the primary motive of personal advertisement and touting, which was in violation of Rule 2(4) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules, 1969 L.I. 613’’.
But the legal practitioner argued that with regard to that case, “there was no identifiable complainant, as required by the provisions of the Legal Profession Act 1960 (Act 32)’’.
He further contended that the GLC “erred in law by failing or neglecting to serve any formal complaint of touting and personal advertising on him”.
“The GLC, therefore, erred in law by constituting itself into a complainant, prosecutor and judge in a matter before it, therefore, violating the rules of natural justice and appellant right to fair trial as guaranteed by Article 19 of the 1992 Constitution,’’ he stated in his appeal.
Lawyer Sosu is also challenging an instruction by the GLC, as part of his suspension, for him to be mentored by a senior lawyer for a year.
According to him, the order for mentorship by the GLC was “alien to the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32) and the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules, 1969 (LI 613)”.