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Researching Ghanaian Law.
Victor Essien holds LL. Hons , LL. Ghana , LL. NYU degrees. He was admitted to the Ghana Bar in Published June Please Read the Update!
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Table of Contents. Historical Note. Sources of Law in Ghana. The Constitution. Legislation and Legislative History.
Official Compilations and Session Laws of Ghana. Unofficial Compilations of Laws. Subsidiary or Subordinate Legislation. Official Sources of Subsidiary Legislation.
Unofficial Sources of Subsidiary Legislation. Case Law.
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Index to Case Law. Official Law Reports. Unofficial Law Reports. Common Law in Ghana. The Rules Generally Known as Equity. Customary Law. Legal Periodicals.
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Selected Bibliography of Ghanaian Secondary Materials. Constitutional and Administrative Law.
Contract, Commercial and Company Law. Criminal Law and Procedure. Family Law, Equity and Succession. Labor Law.
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Land Law. Legal Profession. Practice and Procedure. Legal Education and the Legal Profession. Ghana attained independence from colonial British rule on March 6, On July 1, , it became a republic, the first of four civilian republics that were interspersed with periods of military rule.
On January 7, , the Fourth Republic was inaugurated, complete with a new Constitution.
The law and legal system in Ghana is heavily marked by its history. The Portuguese built the first permanent trading post, the Elmina Castle, in In , the Portuguese lost Elmina to the Dutch. The Portuguese left the Gold Coast permanently. The next years were defined by conflict and diplomatic maneuvers, as the various European powers, including the British, struggled to maintain or establish a position of dominance in the profitable trade along the Gold Coast.
Both the Dutch and the British formed companies to advance their African ventures and to protect their coastal establishments.
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The British gained possession of all Dutch coastal forts by the last quarter of the nineteenth century and became the dominant European power on the Gold Coast by The British involvement in the Gold Coast was initially through their merchants and traders.
It was not until that Captain Hill, as Governor, signed a treaty with the coastal Fanti chiefs to keep the trade routes open and to protect them from Ashanti incursion. This treaty, the Bond of , also required the chiefs to submit serious crimes such as murder and robberies to British jurisdiction.
This laid the legal foundation for subsequent colonization of the coastal area. British control was gradually extended over the other small African states or communities on the coast. In time, this system of irregular jurisdiction was formalized with the establishment of a Supreme Court on the Gold Coast, in , as part of the West African Settlements.
Section 14 of the said Ordinance stipulated that:.
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Section 19 of this Act also provided for the application of customary law. This was in conformity with the emerging British colonial policy of indirect rule.
Section 19 reads, in part, as follows:. The legal pluralism that was recognized under the Supreme Court Ordinance still persists today. It is moderated by elaborate choice of law rules. The current choice of law rules are stated in Section 54 of the Courts Act No.
Article 11 of the Ghana Constitution states that the laws of Ghana shall comprise:. Since the first republican Constitution in , Ghana has had three other Constitutions. These are the , and Constitutions. The earlier constitutions can be located in the historic constitutions volume of Constitutions of Countries of the World. Blaustein, Albert P. Flanz, eds. New York, Oceana, The current Constitution is available in the modern constitutions volumes of Constitutions of the Countries of the World.
The current Constitution is available free of charge online see also www. Ghana is a unitary state with a unicameral legislature. The Constitution provides for one Parliament , which exercises all primary legislative functions. There is a Council of State, which is an advisory body to the President.
The President may refer bills or even laws to the Council of State for its comments. Parliament, however, is only required to consider or reconsider such comments, and is not bound by them. According to Article 11 of the Constitution, no bill becomes law unless it has been published in the official gazette.
The Ghana Gazette is thus an obvious source for locating legislation in Ghana. Ghana has ten regions. All regions are under the central government and no regional institution possesses any legislative authority. Law No. Colonial legislation was styled Ordinances. There is no jurisprudential basis for the differences in terminology. All laws continue to apply to the extent that they are not expressly repealed or abrogated. A bill may be introduced by a Minister of State or by a private Member of Parliament.
In addition, the bill should be published in the Ghana Gazette at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction. The Gazette is, therefore, a source for locating bills or proposed legislation in Ghana. In general, a bill must go through certain stages before becoming law. Article 4 through 6 mandate that a bill has to go through a first reading, after which it is referred to a committee of Parliament.
This committee shall issue its report to the full house after considering representations from interested parties and the general public.
The report of the committee as well as the explanatory memorandum and the bill shall be subjected to a full debate by the full house. It is at this stage that amendments may be entertained. Parliament may then vote to reject or accept the bill in its final form.
In practice, Parliament has added two additional stages to the process, namely, a second reading and a third reading. The second reading occurs after a bill has been referred to the appropriate parliamentary committee. The third reading occurs after a bill has passed through the consideration stage. It is signified by a formal Motion and is not accompanied by a debate.
Parliament shall reconsider this bill in the light of the comments by the President or the Council of State. Such a bill will need the favor of support from two-thirds of all members of Parliament to mandate a Presidential assent and become law.
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The debates of the committee of Parliament as well as those of the full house are recorded verbatim by the Hansard department of the Office of the Clerk of Parliament. These recordings and other documents of Parliament, including bills are published as Official Report or the Hansard of the Parliament of Ghana. It constitutes a rich source for the legislative history of the laws of Ghana.
During the colonial regime, the government, from time to time, would publish consolidated statutes in force as of a certain date.