Knowing the Law

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Warm greetings to all and sundry!

This column shall mainly discuss the law with specific emphasis on legal issues pertaining to women generally.

The aim is to educate women and to some extent, our men as well and what the laws of Ghana are, the basic rights of women and aspects of the law that women can take advantage of. Hopefully, this is the first of several articles devoted to knowing the law and learning the law as well. However, before we delve deep the law, there is the need to start with what the basic laws of Ghana are. This will aid in understanding what the laws of Ghana are as well as where these laws emanate from. Thus this maiden article shall sole discuss the laws of Ghana.

The laws of every country, especially in democratic dispensations, is derived from the constitution of that country. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a constitution as “a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or organization is governed”. The Collins dictionary says a constitution consists of “the fundamental principles on which a state is governed, especially when considered as embodying the rights of subjects”. Thus, a constitution describes the basic principles of the state, the structures and processes of government and the fundamental rights of citizens in a higher law that cannot be unilaterally changed by an ordinary legislative act. The Constitution is therefore the most important – or supreme – law of the land. No other law may conflict with it; nor may the government do anything that violates it. In other words, the laws of every country is enshrined and derived from the constitution of that country.

The Constitution of Ghana is the supreme law of the Republic of Ghana. It was approved on the 28th of April, 1992 through a national referendum. It defines the fundamental political principles, establishing the structure, procedures, powers and duties of the government, structure of the judiciary and legislature, and spells out the fundamental rights and duties of citizens. It is made up of 26 chapters, not including the preamble. Chapter Four (4) of the 1992 Constitution spells out the laws of Ghana as follows:

The Laws of Ghana

  1. (1) the laws of Ghana shall comprise-
    a) this Constitution;
    b) enactment made by or under the authority of the Parliament established by this Constitution;
    c) any Orders, Rules and Regulations made by any person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitutions;
    d) the existing law; and
    e) the common law.
    (2) The common law of Ghana shall comprise the rules of law generally known as the common law, the rules generally known as the doctrines of equity and the rules of customary law including those determined by the Superior Court of Judicature.
    (3) For the purposes of this article, “customary law” means the rules of law which by custom are applicable to particular communities in Ghana.
    (4) The existing law shall, except as otherwise provided in clause (1) of this article, comprise the written and unwritten laws of Ghana as they existed immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, and any Act, Decree, Law or statutory instrument issued or made before that date, which is to come into force on or after that date.
    (5) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the existing law shall not be affected by the coming into force of this Constitution.
    (6) The existing law shall be construed with any modifications, adaptations, qualifications and exceptions necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of this Constitution, or otherwise to give effect to, or enable effect to be given to, any changes effected by this Constitution.
    (7) Any Order, Rule or Regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution or any other law shall
    (a) Be laid before Parliament;
    (b) Be published in the Gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament; and
    (c ) come into force at the expiration of twenty-one sitting days after being so laid unless Parliament, before the expiration of the twenty-one days, annuls the Order, Rule or Regulation by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament.

The above are the sources of law in Ghana and these are the constitution, custom, statutes, etc. it must be emphasized that the sources of law basically provides the authority for judicial decisions and for legislation in any country.

Our next article shall attempt to explain some of these sources of law in very simple terms for the understanding of all and sundry.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the law in Ghana, don’t forget to send an email to

See you in our next article.

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Story By: Halimah AbdulBasit