Ghana Bar Association (GBA): Upholding legal integrity and democracy

Stories and facts

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) is a professional association of lawyers in Ghana, including what used to be called solicitors and barristers, but they are now called legal practitioners, as well as magistrates. By convention, all lawyers admitted to practice in Ghana become automatic members of the association.


The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) stands as a cornerstone of legal professionalism in Ghana, comprising legal practitioners formerly known as solicitors and barristers, now referred to as legal practitioners, alongside magistrates. Founded on the principles of integrity and democracy, the GBA plays a pivotal role in shaping the legal landscape and upholding the rule of law.

The roots of the GBA trace back to the Gold Coast Bar Association, with its inaugural president being the esteemed Sierra Leonean lawyer, Francis (Frans) Dove. The association formalized its constitution and code of ethics in 1958, establishing a tradition of annual conferences to deliberate on critical matters and elect officers. Through these gatherings, the GBA has fostered a culture of democratic decision-making, affirming its status as one of Ghana's most democratic institutions.

By tradition, every lawyer admitted to practice in Ghana automatically becomes a member of the GBA, provided they maintain good standing in their legal practice. The association prides itself on inclusivity and transparency, with elected officers serving one-year terms but eligible for re-election. This democratic structure ensures that the GBA remains accountable to its members and the legal community at large.

The term "bar," synonymous with the legal profession, originates from English custom, where a railing separated legal practitioners in the Inns of Court. Crossing this symbolic barrier signified admission to the legal profession, a tradition that endures metaphorically to this day. While the physical railing may have faded, the notion of the "bar" as a symbol of legal authority and distinction persists in modern legal discourse.

The legal landscape in Ghana evolved from British colonial influence with the establishment of the Supreme Court of Judicature for the Gold Coast Colony in 1876. John Mensah Sarbah made history as the first Ghanaian to be called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1887, paving the way for indigenous legal practitioners. Over time, the legal system underwent reforms, culminating in the abolition of the traditional division between solicitors and barristers in 1960.

Throughout its history, the GBA has confronted challenges and championed causes essential to the integrity of the legal profession. Issues such as judicial consistency, corruption, and misconduct have been addressed through advocacy efforts and internal mechanisms. The association remains steadfast in its commitment to combating corruption and ensuring accountability within the judiciary, safeguarding the principles of justice and fairness.

As a bastion of legal professionalism and democracy, the Ghana Bar Association continues to uphold the highest standards of integrity and excellence in legal practice. Through its rich history, inclusive governance structure, and unwavering advocacy, the GBA remains a driving force in advancing the rule of law and preserving the rights and liberties of all Ghanaians.



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