The Registrar-General’s Department envisions becoming a highly progressive Department that efficiently serves its increasing customers, keeping and accessing accurate records expeditiously through a fully computerized system to meet the challenges of a middle income economy in the coming year.
The Registrar-General’s Department desires to ensure efficient and effective administration of statues relating to, among others, the Registration of Companies, Business names, Partnerships, Industrial Property, Marriages and the Administration of Estates and the benefit of Government Agencies, the Business Community and the Public at large.
The various legislations administered by the Department are as follow:
- Companies Code, 1963 [Act 179]
- Incorporated Private Partnerships Act, 1962 [Act 152]
- Registration of Business Names Act, 1963 [Act 151]
- Bodies Corporate [Official Liquidations] Act 1963 [Act 180]
- Industrial Design Act, 2003 [Act 660]
- Trade Marks Act 2004 [Act 664]
- Patent Act 2003, Act 657
- Administration of Estates Act, 1961 [Act 63]
- Marriages Ordinance [Cap. 127]
- Book & Newspapers Registration Act 1961 [Act 73]
- Public Trustees Ordinance 1952 [No. 24]
- Custodians of Assets Decree NRCD .28
- Professional Bodies Registration Decree, 1973 [NRCD. 143]
Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179)
One of the major functions of the Department is the administration of the Companies Code. It is the responsibility of the Department to ensure that any one or more persons desirous of forming an incorporated company complies with the provisions of the Code in respect of registration. After a Company has been registered with the Department, it is required by the Companies Code to deliver to the Department for registration inter alia, annual returns of certain particulars together with accounts, any special resolution, any alteration in its stated capital, change of objects, return on issue of shares, particulars of mortgages created by the company, particulars of certain agreements relating to the company, changes in the registered office and address of the company, change of Secretary and Director.
It is the duty of the Department to examine and approve the said documents before registering them. The Department is also required to inspect the statutory books of the registered companies to ensure that they comply with the laws.
Incorporated Private Partnerships Act, 1962 (Act 152)
Under this Act, two or more individuals, up to a maximum of 20 can incorporate a business by registering with the Registrar of Companies. The registered firm then becomes a separate entity like a company. But the members remain personally liable with the firm itself for payment of the debts and liabilities. Any changes in particulars of the partnership are also registered with Registrar-General. The partnership is also to be renewed annually by the Registrar-General.
Business Names Act, 1962 (Act 151)
This Act provides for the registration of a business name which differs from that of the proprietor of the business, with the Registrar-General. This enables the Registrar to prevent the carrying on of businesses under undesirable made-up names. The Act also enables the public to find out certain particulars of businesses which are in fact carried on under made-up names. Any changes of the particulars of the business are registrable with the Registrar; and there is also provision for annual renewal of registration.
Bodies Corporate (Official Liquidations) Act 1963 (Act 780)
Under this Act, the Registrar-General is the Liquidator in any Official Winding up. The Chief Director Co-ordinates policies and activities of the Department and agencies in the Legal Sector.
Industrial Designs Act 2003 (Act 660)
Yet another important function of the Department is registration of textiles designs. Proprietors of textiles designs can apply to the Department for registration of their designs under the Textiles Designs (Registration) Decree. As in the case of trademarks, the Registrar also has power to hear cases of objection and opposition in textile designs. The Copyright granted under the Decree is subject to renewal, and the right is transferable.
Trade Marks Act, 2004, Act 664
Another major function of the Registrar-General’s Department is the administration of the Trade Marks Act, 1965 and the Regulations made there under. Under that Act the Registrar-General may register upon application, any mark or symbol which is or intended to be applied or attached to goods for sale in the market, so as to distinguish them from similar goods, and to identify them with a particular trader. Trademarks serve to protect the public against confusion and deception by identifying the source or origin of particular products as distinguished from other similar products, and also to protect the Trademark owner’s trade and business as well as goodwill which is attached to his Trademark. For a Trademark to be registered under the Act, the Mark should be distinctive and should not be identical or resemble another Trademark already on the register.
The Registrar-General as the Registrar of Trade Marks has power under the Act to hear applicants whose designs have been rejected. The Registrar also has power to hear counter cases. He may award costs against any of the parties appearing before him. He has power to subpoena witnesses to testify before him, and the witnesses have the same privileges and immunities as before the High Court. Appeals from his decisions lie to the High Court.
A Trademark may be registered in either part A or B of the Register, depending on the circumstances. The Registration of the Trademark is subject to renewal. The Department also registers assignment of Trademarks. Changes in particulars of registration are also registrable. The Registrar also has certain powers e.g. to rectify entries in the Register, to expunge or vary registration for breach of condition. In reviewing the Act, serious attention will also be given to the impact Trademark registration ought to have on the development process in Ghana, especially by way of transfer of technology.
Patent Act 2003, Act 657
A Patent is a statutory privilege granted by a State Authority to inventors, and to other persons deriving their rights from the inventor for a fixed period of years, to the exclusion of other persons from manufacturing, using or selling a Patented Product or from utilizing a Patented Method or Process. At the expiration of the time which the privilege is granted, the Patented Invention is available to the general public.
The Registrar-General is also the Registrar of Patents. Ever since the law came into being in 1992, any inventor in Ghana, who invents can have his invention patented either as a National Patent or one could register under the African Regional Industrial Property or under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. For now, the law grants 10 years protection for the first instance and thereafter to be renewed for a further 10 years making it a total of 20 years, thereafter the invention would fall into public domain and everybody would then be at liberty to copy or produce it.
Administration of Estates Act 1961 (Act 63)
Under the Administration of Estates Act, 1961 (Act 63) the Registrar-General is the Administrator-General for Ghana, and as such administers in certain circumstances various estates of persons who die in the country either without having made provision in their Wills for representation to their estates or without having made Wills at all. The Administrator-General may also be appointed the sole executor of any Will.
Members of the general public in Ghana are now becoming more and more aware of the impartial and efficient manner in which the Administrator-General and his staff carry out their duties under the Act. Consequently the number of estates under his administration has increased.
Under the Public Trustee Ordinance, 1952, the Registrar-General is also the Public Trustee. As such he may be appointed either as an Ordinary Trustee of any property by an individual or the Court or a Custodian Trustee. Occasionally he is entrusted with winding up of certain statutory or quasi-statutory institutions by special Acts of Parliament. The advantage of appointing the Public Trustee is that his appointment avoids the trouble and expenses of appointing the new trustee at the otherwise normal successive and recurrent times and need and also in the very rare case of loss occurring through any breaches of trust by him, the State undertakes to make good such loss.
Marriage Ordinance (CAP. 127)
As the Principal Registrar of Marriages the Registrar-General is in charge of all the marriage districts in the country where registers for marriages contracted under the Marriage Ordinance (Cap. 127) are maintained.
In addition to being responsible for the collection, custody and maintenance of the records of all marriages celebrated under the Ordinance, the Principal Registrar also issues special licenses to parties who intend to marry, if in his opinion there are special and peculiar circumstance which make it impossible or highly inconvenient for the parties to comply with the formality of giving 21 days notice of intention to marry.
Book and Newspaper Registration Act, 1961
Under this Act a copy of every book which is published in Ghana together with all maps, prints or other engravings belonging thereto, and also of any second or subsequent edition which is published shall or shall continue to be, within one month after the day on which such book is first taken out of the press delivered free of charge by the printer to the Registrar-General’s Department. The Department is obliged to maintain a Register of books and newspapers printed in Ghana. The definition of “book” in the Act includes newspaper.
The Registrar-General must also publish a memorandum of certain particulars of the books so registered. Any person is entitled to search and inspect the Register.
Custodian of Assets Decree, 1972
The Registrar-General is the custodian of assets under this Decree and in relation to any assets forfeited under any enactment, he has the duty:
- Of identifying and making inventory of any such assets
- Of collecting any rents due in respect of immovable property, and such other monies due as the Government may direct
- Of taking such measures to safe guard any such assets as he may think fit
- Of keeping accounts of all monies which come into his possession in accordance with the Decree
Professional Bodies Decree 1973 (NRCD. 143)
The Registrar-General is also the Registrar of Professional Bodies in the country. Under the said law all Professional Bodies in the country are supposed to register under the Decree