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V.C.R.A.C Crabbe


Vincent Cyril Richard Arthur Charles Crabbe 3342.png
Date of Birth:
1923-10-29
Place of Birth:
Accra, Ghana

Vincent Cyril Richard Arthur Charles (V.C.R.A.C) Crabbe 9 October 1923 – 7 September 2018) was a Ghanaian jurist who served as a judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana during the second and third Ghanaian Republics.

Before serving as a judge, he was Head of Drafting at Ghana's Ministry of Justice and produced critical legislation to be passed by the early National Assembly. He established and headed an electoral commission, the first-ever, to conduct the 1969 Ghanaian Election.

V.C.R.A.C Crabbe was born on 29 October 1923 at Ussher town in Accra, Gold Coast to Richard Arthur Crabbe, the Chief Registrar of the Courts (the most senior staff of the Judicial Service of the Gold Coast), and his wife Stella Akoley Lartey.

Charles's father died eleven months after he was born. Amongst his brothers was Edward Ffoulkes Crabbe who was the first Clerk of the National Assembly and Samuel Azu Crabbe who was the 5th Ghanaian Chief Justice.

Crabbe attended the Government Junior Boys' School near the James Fort Prison and continued to the Government Senior Boys' Schools, Kinbu. In 1939 he entered the Accra Academy where he sat for the Cambridge Junior and Senior School Certificates, completing in 1943. Following this, he studied briefly at the Odumase Secondary School for six months.

Crabbe then went to start work as a Second Division Clerk at the Headquarters of the Gold Coast Police Force. During the February 1948 riots, Charles was assigned to be part of the crowd, gathering intelligence for the Police Service.

While working with the police, he studied privately for an Intermediate B.A. degree through correspondence with Wolsey Hall, Oxford. From 1950 to 1952, Crabbe studied Economics at the City of London College Moorgate, London.

In August 1952, he was admitted to the Inner Temple to read law. He did so using the Senior Cambridge Certificate he had obtained from the Accra Academy. He completed the normal three-year course in two years and was called to the Bar on 8th February 1955, having being granted a dispensation. The same year he was enrolled as a member of the Gold Coast Bar.

Career

In 1955 Crabbe joined the Attorney-General's Department of Ghana starting out as an Assistant Crown Counsel. On 1 June 1958, he was appointed as a First Parliamentary Counsel, becoming the first African to be appointed one, the title was abolished in Ghana soon after for State Attorney.

Together with the New Zealand lawyer Fred Boyce, he drafted the legislation, Ordinances and Acts of Parliament which were passed by the National Assembly on Ghana's Independence Day.

In 1963, then president Nkrumah sent him on a mission to Uganda where he was made a First Parliamentary Counsel and Constitutional Advisor to the Uganda Government and drafted the 1966 Ugandan Constitution.

In August 1968 he was appointed Interim Electoral Commissioner of Ghana to conduct the 1969 Elections. Crabbe set up the first-ever electoral commission Ghana had ever had. He served as Special Commissioner to the 1969 Constitutional Commission and a Legislative Draftsman to the 1969 Constituent Assembly which drafted the 1969 Constitution of Ghana.

He was Chairman of the 1979 Constituent Assembly and drafted the 1979 Constitution of Ghana. He worked with the Constitutional Review Commission of Kenya and was the Leader of the group of Draftspersons who drafted the Kenya Constitution.

He did work with the Zambian Constitutional Commission for the drafting of the Zambian Constitution as well as the Fiajoe Review Commission for the review of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

Crabbe worked with Justice P.N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India and Justice Kayode Eso of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to advise on the setting up of the Constitutional Court in South Africa.

In 1999 Crabbe was appointed as Statute Law Review Commissioner. He was for many years sole Statute Law Review Commissioner of Ghana at the Ghanaian Ministry of Justice and in this office revised the Laws of Ghana from 1852 to 2004 in seven volumes before retiring from public office.

He was a Co-Chair of the Coalition of Democratic Election Observers Ghana (CODEO) an agency under the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).

Crabbe was appointed a high court judge on 16 December 1966, soon after his return from Uganda. In 1968, when he was appointed as Interim Electoral Commissioner of Ghana, it was with the status of a Justice of the Court Appeal.

In 1970, he was nominated and made a Supreme Court Judge of Ghana by prime minister Kofi Abrefa Busia. Following the military coup which toppled the Busia government in 1972, the supreme court was suspended. When the judicial system was restored Crabbe was not sent to the supreme court but returned to the high court.

He served as a high court judge from 1972 to 1975. In 1976, he was sent to the court of appeal as a judge and in 1979 returned to the supreme court.

From 1958 to 1963, Crabbe was a tutor and lecturer during the foundation years of the Ghana School of Law until he left for Uganda. He worked as a Senior Instructor at the International Law Development Centre in Rome, Italy.

From 1974 to 1998, he was Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat Scheme for Legislative draftsmen for the West African Region, Southern Africa Region and the Caribbean Region. He was a professor of Legislative drafting at the Cave Hill Campus, Barbados of the University of West Indies.

Crabbe was a Professor of Law at Mountcrest University College in Accra until his death on 7 September 2018.

Crabbe had six children. He was also a Freemason, belonging to the District Grand Lodge of Ghana under the United Grand Lodge of England.

Honours

Though gazetted as a recipient of the national honour of Companion of the Order of Volta in 1979, Crabbe was never invited for the investiture. He was honoured as an honorary fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

In 2006, the chiefs and people of Ngleshie Alata, Jamestown awarded him a Certificate of Honour. In November 2013 he received an honorary doctorate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology after he had assisted the institution to establish its Faculty of Law.

On 31st January 2015, at the Metropolitan Ball in Accra, he received a Certificate of Honour from the Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.

On 15 March 2017 he delivered an inaugural lecture on the theme, The Philosophy of Man after he was elected a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He died at the age of 94 on 7 September 2018 in Accra, Ghana. A state funeral, attended by several dignitaries and members of the legal fraternity, was held for him on Thursday 4 October 2018 at the Accra International Conference Centre.

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