The delay in the administration of Justice in Ghana’s courts has for a long time been an issue of worry for officers of the courts, clients, and the general public alike.
Not a single moment is missed almost every year at any function in the legal fraternity to ponder on this issue.
With the current Chief Justice’s commitment to the Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) regime and the rising enlightenment and acceptance of the public and practitioners alike in that regard, it is hoped that the age-old problem will be dealt with.
At the ongoing Conference of the Ghana Bar Association, as usual, one of the topics considered as part of lawyers’ Continuous Legal Education was; Delays in the Administration of Justice: Where are we?
Two notable personalities in the legal fraternity took up the task of addressing the issues. They are Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe and the renowned legal practitioner, Ace Anan Ankomah.
Speaking on the topic, the Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Asare-Botwe noted that it is time for judges to behave the same because some deviate from the application of the law.
Specifically, Her Ladyship touched on the rule of delivering judgment within six(6) weeks of addresses being filed and indicated that it is not being complied with by most judges who at times even allow lawyers to further delay cases by their countless motions.
Additionally, she mentioned some Practice Directions delivered in 2018; Disclosures and Case Management, and Effective Case Completion strategies on how cases are to be dealt with and bemoaned judges’ non-compliance.
Further, Justice Asare-Botwe called for the revisiting of the idea of attendant stay of proceedings because she said that even though these applications are supposed to be pre-trial, lawyers still resort to them even when trial commences leading to delay of such cases.
On Jury trials, Her Ladyship called for the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1960(Act 30) to take away the exceptions in the selection of jurors because the same number of jurors are being recycled for several cases because so many professionals are being exempted from jury duties.
She added that case delays are also occasioned by the frivolous reasons for adjournment indicating that lawyers at times go to court to ask the judge for an adjournment for flimsy reasons which some judges do grant. She maintained that a lawyer must have a good reason for seeking an adjournment.
ACE ANAN ANKOMAH
In his contribution to the topic from the perspective of lawyers, the Senior Partner of Bentsi-Enchill Letsa and Ankomah(BELA) blamed judges for the delay in the administration of justice.
Poor Diary Management
He said that there are judges who adjourn almost all complicated cases and that some also have their diaries loaded with cases without attending to them. He added that others are also tired and frustrated and the fact that some judges take three months to give a ruling on an interlocutory application.
Lack of familiarity with the rules
Also, Mr Ankomah said that some judges love packed courts and engage in needless and pointless arguments with counsels even when they are being corrected on matters.
Meetings, Seminars, and training of judges without notice to lawyers
Further, he bemoaned the fact that lawyers at times have to come to court only to be told that judges are in meetings without them being given a prior notice wondering why there is no system for calls to lawyers on such matters.
Lack of timeliness in delivery of judgments
Mr Ankomah mentioned the fact that the delay and timeliness in giving judgments only make such judgments good for academic purposes because the delays only lead to the dissipation of the real causes of action making a particular reference to the recent case of CDD v AG in which His Lorship(Rtd) Amegatcher gave the lead opinion.
In the end, the renowned legal practitioner called for an end to this age-old problem in order not to continuously mess people up.