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02.10.2008 General News

Let's be abreast with times, CJ admonishes lawyers

By The Statesman

The Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood says, as legal administrators across the globe prepares to embrace new trends in justice administration, it was prudent for legal professionals in Ghana to also adapt to changing trends by ensuring networking of the legal profession in the country.

She observed however that the "one-man legal practice or what we call chambers" which has for the past centuries been practiced in Ghana was outmoded in this era where proper administration of justice was being preached.

According to her, developing the legal profession to internationally accepted standards would enhance the international respectability of the profession in Ghana, while reinforcing the competitive advantage of Ghanaian lawyers in terms of their employability and engagement.

Addressing the 2008/2009 National Conference of the Ghana Bar Association in Kumasi, Mrs. Justice Wood stated that a team from the International Relations Section of the US Federal Judicial Centre was in the country to help build the capacity of a core group of judges as trainers in judicial case management, including electronic case management.

The four-day conference held under the theme, 'The legal profession in a globalised world' attracted more than 200 members from across the country.

She promised to continue with reforms in the judiciary which she started on assumption of office in 2007 and challenged the bar to design strategies that would compel lawyers to render pro-bono legal services to poor indigent litigants.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene who was the special guest of honour noted that the country's courts were severely under resourced in dealing with the numerous cases, saying 'that was why the traditional system of adjudication must be encouraged'.

He said resolution of disputes by recourse to the time-tested customary arbitration and mediation was not only less expensive but also cost effective.

The Asantehene said inadequate infrastructure coupled with the lack of personnel and other resources made access to justice in the formal court system burdensome.

He said in an attempt to introduce reforms, the country often times ignored what already existed in society.

The Asantehene advised the judiciary to be fearless and continue to administer justice with all fairness irrespective of the pressures that will come on them.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Joe Ghartey said the Legal Service Board had established an Oil and Gas Division at the Attorney General's Office.

Already, five lawyers from the Attorney-General's Department have been sent abroad for Masters Degree programmes in oil and gas, particularly at the time that Ghana prepares to become an oil producing country. 

He said a commercial court would also be established at Essikado near Sekondi in the Western region to deal with disputes arising from oil and gas production.

The acting President of the association, Benson Nutsukpui, challenged the Electoral Commission, the media, and political parties to avoid acts that will compromise the peace of the nation.

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah called on members of the GBA to prevail on political party leaders to be circumspect in their utterances in order not to inflame passion during the campaigns leading to 2008 Election.