The Supreme Court was established to apply the same rules of law and equity as were enforced by the common law courts and the courts of equity in England. Necessarily the existence of a permanent court promoted the emergence of legally trained persons who practiced before the Court, and helped the Court to administer justice according to law. Thus it was that ten years after the establishment of the Court in 1876, the first native of the country was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 18°7 in the person of the famous, historic figure of John Mensah Sarbah. Even though 4 or 5 others – PCharles Bannerman, James Bannerman, Edmund Bannerman, James Button Brew, George Blankson – were on the roll of lawyers before Sarbah, Sarbah was the first barrister to be so enrolled, the others being solicitors, The English colonial legacy meant that the division of the English profession into barristers and solicitors was initially imported into the colonial Gold Coast. The barrister is the advocate in Court, and the solicitor is the counsellor and drafter of documents.
It was an importation that was to have little impact in that from the very beginning there was no distinction in practice between what a barrister or solicitor could do here. Both were lawyers, and entitled to provide the full range of services of a lawyer – legal advice, drafting of deeds, and the conduct of litigation as an advocate in the courts of law. Such has been the development that in I960 in the Legal Profession Act (Act 32) statutory authority was given to the definition of the lawyer as “the legal practitioner”, which embraces both barristers and solicitors. Strictly speaking, we do not have barristers or solicitors, only legal practitioners.
It can be properly said that the establishment of the Supreme Court constituted the commencement of the legal profession in our country. Hence the Bar’s valid claim to be the most senior of the professions in the nation.