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15.05.2007 General News

EU delegation tours commercial courts


A 10-member European Union delegation has called on the Acting Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Francis Y. Kpegah to acquaint themselves with Ghana's legal system.

Dr Peter Linder, German Ambassador and rotating head of the EU delegation, led the delegation, which included Mr. Gordon Wetherell, British High Commissioner, Mr. F. Bjork Pedrsen, Ambassador of Denmark, Dorthe Wacker, First Secretary, Governance Advisor, European Commission.

Mr. Justice Kpegah said Ghana was enjoying the fruit of democracy on an unprecedented scale in the history of the country.

He said: "It is a fact that the rule of law is working and we as custodians of the constitution are ensuring that it works. We have made significant progress in stabilizing the independence of the judiciary and bringing administration of justice to the door steps of people."

Justice Kpegah noted that the judiciary could not have made that achievement without the support of non-governmental organisations and government.

He said: "Today we pride ourselves with well-equipped Fast Track Courts, where cases take less than one-third of the time we are used to.”

Mr. Justice Kpegah said the judiciary was going to extend computerisation to the lower courts to facilitate smooth operations of those courts.

He said the judges and staff were also being offered training programmes to meet emerging challenges in the day-to-day administration of justice.

“Even though we have made progress,” the Acting Chief justice said, "there is still room for improvement."

He observed that there had been some delays in matters pending before the courts, saying most of these could be the result of lawyers who sought frequent adjournments saying a break in the chain of justice caused delay in the administration of the justice.

Mr. Justice Kpegah said the judiciary was making efforts to ensure that activities of the chieftaincy tribunals were resuscitated to settle disputes.

Mrs. Justice Georgina T. Wood, Supreme Court Judge, noted that the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in settling matters was working very well.

Mrs. Wood said since the introduction of the ADR into the court system, two years ago there had been a lot of progress in settling of disputes before the courts.

She said she was optimistic that by the beginning of the next legal year, ADR would be extended to other regions.

Mr. Samuel Marful-Saw, Acting president of the Commercial Courts, said the court, which was one-and-a-half years old had been able to settle a lot of commercial and business disputes.

He said at the Commercial Courts, ADR was mandatory adding that one-third of cases had been settled at pre-trial stages.

Among those present were Mr. Joe Ghartey, Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Mrs. Regina A. Apotsi, Judicial Secretary.

Dr. Linder and members of the delegation toured the commercial courts.

Source: GNA