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26.09.2005 General News

GBA president calls for reform in appointment

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Elmina, Sept. 26, GNA - The National President of the Ghana bar Association (GBA) Mr Solomon Tetteh, on Monday, advocated a "drastic reform" of the procedures for appointment and promotion of judges to enhance hard work and dedication in the judiciary.

He observed that under the Constitution, the qualification for appointment to the bench, were high moral character, proven integrity and a required number of years as a standing lawyer and that although competence was not mentioned expressly, it was implicit in article 146 (1) of the Constitution, which says a judge may be removed on grounds of incompetence.

Mr Tetteh, made the suggestion at the opening of the annual general conference of the Association on the theme: "Modern trends in the legal practice: changing old habits", at Elmina, stressed that there was the need "to give a stamp of transparency to judicial appointments". He said in this regard, the ability of a candidate for appointment or promotion to discharge his duties competently becomes a qualification and that it would be beneficial for a well-formulated procedure that would establish the standard of competence required of judges to enable them to work towards it.

Mr Tetteh noted that this would in addition, introduce transparency in such matters, to eliminate the perception of favouritism and that such appointments or promotions also did not depend on the fact that the judge involved, had decided a case of national importance in favour of the republic.

The GBA President further advocated the reinstatement of the system of reporting on performance of judges and said these returns should form the source of assessing the performance of a candidate.

"A number of judgments considered by the candidate for his or her promotion to be best would be considered. Similarly, judgments in which the candidate for appointment from the bar has featured must be considered to assess the competence elicited. It would not matter that the case was won or lost. The quality of arguments put forth would matter", he argued.

Mr Tetteh pointed out that the efficient delivery of justice was a constitutional duty that devolves on the bench and bar and that unless they accepted their shortcomings and collaborated for the needed reform, the nation's aspiration for freedom and justice would not be achieved.

"I have the confidence that with dedication from the bar and bench, an improved level of delivery of justice and legal service would be attained. The bar would then be in the position to embark upon self -regulation", he declared.