Business and the Law


Typical Concerns:
 
  • As a foreign investor can I enforce my legal rights under Ghanaian law?
  • Can I find qualified lawyers with a strong knowledge of Ghanaian law?
  • What non legal services may be provided by my attorney?
  • How do I assess the qualifications and related cost of my prospective lawyer?
  • How do I find the legal specializations I may need under Ghanaian law (intellectual property, land etc)?
  • Who regulates attorney conduct in Ghana?
  • How do I know my lawyer will be timely in responding to my needs?
 
Solutions:
 
  • Enforcing my legal rights under Ghanaian law
 
Foreign investors can enforce their rights in Ghana. Our constitution guarantees this.  In fact, in order to make this easier, the judiciary has set up Commercial Courts whose function is essentially to adjudicate on commercial matters only. Special rules of Court have been made to govern the proceedings in these courts, notable among which is the 30 day compulsory  requirement to go through mediation. Some judges have been specifically trained to mediate disputes and this has gone a long way to resolve disputes that would otherwise have taken so much time and money to resolve.
 
The Ghana Investment and Promotion Center (GIPC) Questions and Answers has the following question and answer: 
 
Question: Can we depend on the country's judicial system to handle investment disputes in a fair and equitable manner and in accordance with due process under law?
 
Answer: Ghana's judiciary comprises very seasoned lawyers with specialization in various areas of the law. They are singled out for appointment to the judiciary on the basis of their excellent performance at the Bar. Similar to the United States Constitution and the British legal tradition, Ghana's Constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary. The institution of the fast track court and introduction of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation (ADRS) within the court system are all attempts to enhance the work of the judiciary and to generate the necessary confidence in the legal and judicial systems.
 
  • Finding Qualified Attorneys
 
There are a lot of competent lawyers and firms to handle different aspects of Ghanaian law. In addition to locally trained lawyers, other lawyers have done part or all of their training in English or American schools and are very familiar with both Ghana law and laws of other jurisdiction to enable them to give expert advise especially in matters involving private international law. 
 
  • How do I assess qualifications and cost?
 
Selection of an attorney in Ghana will be one of the most important decisions investors will make. Qualifications of the attorney and law firm should be careful compared against anticipated needs of the investor. Language and communication skills, legal and non legal services provided, and responsiveness of attorneys should be considered before making a final selection. Chambers of Commerce and chartered accountants can be helpful in discovering the reputation of the various attorneys and law firms.
 
We would add that an investor is at liberty to request the profile of any lawyer or firm he wants to do business with. By reviewing the profile the investor is able to form his own opinion whether to deal with a particular lawyer or not. Determination of legal charges is by negotiation. The Ghana Bar Association has a scale of fees that should also guide the investor in the quantum of fees charged for certain transactions.
 
  • Specializations
 
HG Worldwide Legal Directories is an example of a legal directory that allows investors to search for Ghanaian law firms by specialty. Those being considered should be discussed with local experts, such as Chambers of Commerce and chartered accountants.
 
  • Regulation
     
    Although it is not mandatory, almost all Ghanaian attorneys belong to the Ghana Bar Association.

 

  • Timely Responses
     
    As earlier suggested, in addition to the information law firms post on the internet, it is important for the investor to rely on other persons who have done business in Ghana and know which lawyers or firms to best do business with. Besides a lawyer-client relationship is a contract for services. Either party is free to sever the relationship if one is not satisfied with the other.
 
Helpful Resources
 

 

Industry Specialists

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Law Trust Company
Oak House Group of Company