Home » How Prof. Date-Bah made history as Ghana’s first law graduate with a first-class degree

How Prof. Date-Bah made history as Ghana’s first law graduate with a first-class degree

The retired Supreme Court judge was the first Ghanaian to graduate with a first-class degree in law from the University of Ghana in 1965.

by Motoni Olodun
Prof. Date-Bah

He is a retired Supreme Court judge, a distinguished legal scholar, and a lifetime achievement award recipient. But before he became one of Ghana’s most respected jurists, he was also the first Ghanaian to graduate with a first-class degree in law from the University of Ghana.

Professor Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Bah achieved this remarkable feat in 1965 when he completed his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) program at the country’s premier law faculty. He was the only student in his class to attain the highest academic distinction, setting a record that has inspired generations of law students in Ghana.

His academic excellence did not stop there. He pursued further studies at the University of Oxford, obtaining a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) degree in 1967 and a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in 1973. He also holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree from Harvard University, which he obtained in 1971.

Prof. Date-Bah has had a distinguished career in both academia and public service. He served as a Special Legal Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London for 20 years, providing legal advisory and negotiating services to developing Commonwealth member states. He also taught law at various universities, including the University of Ghana, the University of Dar es Salaam, and the University of West Indies.

He was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana in 2003 and served until his retirement in 2013. He delivered several landmark judgments on constitutional, human rights, and commercial law issues during his tenure. He also served as an ad hoc judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and a Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) member.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the development of the rule of law, jurisprudence, legal philosophy, legal academy, and education in Ghana and beyond, Prof. Date-Bah was honored with a Life Time Achievement Award by the University of Professional Studies (UPSA) law faculty in September 2023. He is the first recipient of the UPSA Law School Lifetime Achievement Award scheme instituted by the law school to celebrate outstanding personalities who have made a difference in the legal field.

The award ceremony was attended by dignitaries from the judiciary, academia, government, civil society, and the media. The Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, who was the guest speaker at the event, described Prof. Date-Bah as “a legal luminary who has left an indelible mark on the legal landscape of Ghana and beyond.” He praised him for his “intellectual rigor, judicial independence, and moral integrity” and urged young lawyers to emulate his example.

Prof. Date-Bah expressed his gratitude for the honor bestowed on him and dedicated it to his family, mentors, colleagues, and students who have supported him throughout his journey. He also shared some words of wisdom with the graduating class of 2023, advising them to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and service in their legal careers.

He said: “As you go out into the world, remember that you are not only lawyers but also citizens who have a duty to contribute to the development of your country and humanity at large. Use your legal skills and knowledge to promote justice, peace, and human dignity for all.”

Prof. Date-Bah’s story is one of perseverance, excellence, and achievement. It is also one that inspires hope for the future of Ghana’s legal system and society.

Source: Ghana Web

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