Develop framework to support ADR in judicial system—Asantehene
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei tutu II, has advocated for the development of the necessary legal framework to support the adaptation of diversionary measures in the country's justice delivery system.
He said resolution of dispute by recourse to the time-tested customary arbitration and mediation were not only less expensive but also cost effective and there was the need to develop the necessary legal framework to support and develop such concepts within the framework of modern society.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu made the call at the opening of the annual general meeting of the Ghana Bar Association in Kumasi on Monday.
The four-day meeting is under the theme “the legal profession in a globalised world”.
The Asantehene said inadequate infrastructure coupled with lack of personnel and other resources made access to justice in the formal court system burdensome and these often called for reforms in the justice delivery system.
However, in an attempt to introduce reforms and innovations, the country often times ignored to have introspection of what already existed in society and develop it to redress such problems.
He said arbitration and mediation had from time immemorial been employed as an effective form of dispute resolution by traditional rulers, heads of family, elders of society and notables and stressed the need for its effective incorporation in the country's judiciary and the justice delivery system.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu said the traditional sector had instituted measures to respond to the growth and complexity of society in a large measure.
He said chiefs had under the new chieftaincy Act of 2008, Act 759, formally given legislative backing to diversionary method of access to justice and justice delivery in their system by guaranteeing customary arbitration as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method.
He called on the lawyers to use the conference to seriously consider the issue of ADR and come out with suggestion to reform the country's access to justice delivery.
Mr Joe Ghartey, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said the government was preparing a national Oil and Gas Policy as well as Oil and Gas Master Plan for oil production in Ghana.
Under the plan, an oil and gas regulatory authority will be established while the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) will be converted into a limited liability company.
Strategies are also being developed for the integration of the private sector in the development of the petroleum industry.
Mr Ghartey said the Legal Service Board had established an Oil and Gas Division at the Attorney General's Office while some selected lawyers from the Office had also been sponsored to do masters programmes in Oil and Gas in some renowned universities abroad.
A commercial court will also be established at Essikado near Sekondi to deal with disputes arising from oil and gas production.
The Attorney General suggested the establishment of the Committee on oil and gas within the GBA to examine all options that the bar should take to position itself to contribute effectively to the development of oil and gas industry in Ghana.
Mrs Georgina Wood, the Chief Justice, said the legal profession was at the cross-road of evolution and development world-wide and urged members of the bar to recognize the changing times and take genuine steps to shed off the traditional approach to offering services and reorient and manage affairs in a manner that would reflect the changing times.
She said the country's discovery of oil gave them limited options as to how they ought to manage legal practice in Ghana if they wanted to take their rightful place in the scheme of affairs.
The Chief Justice said one-man legal practice which most lawyers were used to was totally outdated and could not meet the demands of the time and therefore, called for partnerships to enable them undertake challenging tasks.
Mr Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu-Ansah, Ashanti regional Minister, called on members of the GBA to prevail on political party leaders to be circumspect in their utterances during campaigns in order not to inflame passion during the electioneering campaigns.
Mr Benson Nutsukpui, Acting President of the GBA, called on the government not to neglect other sectors of the economy as a result of the oil find and also use oil money judiciously to benefit the people.