An introduction to paralegal services in Ghana

Ghana’s justice system does not guarantee free legal services for the poor and less privileged.  The idea of pro-bono work is relatively new in Ghana and not many lawyers prioritize this area – free work is generally not beneficial to the lawyers in the areas.  The Legal Aid Board was established by Act 542 in 1987 and it is state-funded. There are Regional Offices in all ten regions of Ghana, located in the regional capitals as well as a few district offices in some regions. The Legal Aid Board may rely on its own discretion when deciding to take on cases.

A person is entitled to legal aid in Ghana for the purposes of enforcing any provision of the Constitution  if; he earns the Government minimum wage or less and desires legal representation in any criminal matter; or civil matter relating to landlord and tenant, insurance, inheritance with particular reference to the Intestate Succession Law, 1985 (P. N. D. C. L. 111), maintenance of children and such other civil matters as may from time to time be prescribed by Parliament; or  if in the opinion of the Legal Aid Board the person requires legal aid.

The main function of the LRC in Ghana is outlined as the following:

  1. Provide legal aid and counselling services to indigent women and children;
  2. Provide court representation to women;
  3. Organize Legal literacy programs through the simplification of laws and policies that protect women;
  4. Provide mobile legal aid outreaches in the rural areas to women;
  5. Advocate for the abolishing of laws and traditional practices that are harmful to women;
  6. Train paralegals in the basic laws to enable them respond to gender based violence issues at the community level.
Paralegals in Ghana Case Study

Curious Minds is a young people-led, non-governmental organisation with a focus on promoting children and youth development. They work to promote the development needs and aspirations of young people in Ghana and across the African continent but with a primary focus on Rights of the Child (RoC) and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR). The Organisation’s approach to children and youth development is a rights-based one with full and meaningful participation of young people as a pivot for engagement at all levels of programme/project conceptualisation, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Additional information on paralegals in Ghana

Applicable Constitutional obligations:  Article 19, Article 294 of the 1992 Constitution.

Applicable Legislation: Legal Aid Scheme Act, 1997. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2010. Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act – CHRAJ Act, 1993 [Act 456].

Resources: A Manual for Paralegals produced for Ghana Integrity Initiative.

Training required: The paralegal training program is an 8-week taught certificate program held in collaboration with leading law schools in Ghana. It is designed to equip trainees with the requisite skills in legal assistance in law firms, corporate institutions, government agencies and international organizations. The program is especially structured to train paralegals in the skills of assisting lawyers in their work through tailored course content. Among others, students will be taken through courses including the law of contract, property law and conveyancing, Ghana legal system, the law of torts and criminal law.

Organizations: GNA – A 26-member paralegal association has been inaugurated at Mamponteng in the Kwabre District, with a call on the members to promote and safeguard the rights and freedoms of women and children,  African Women’s Development Fund – AWDF, Curious Minds, LRC – Ghana, Advocacy & Legal Advice Center ( ALAC), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), Ghana Network of NGOs against human trafficking (GACNET), Civic Forum Initiative(CFI), Help Law Ghana, Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (“WISE”), The Ark Foundation (The Ark), Pro Bono Lawyer Network (PBLN).