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31.10.2005 Crime & Punishment

Eight-member Board for Law Reporting Inugurated

By GNA
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Accra, Oct. 31, GNA - There is need to equip law reporters to improve on their efficiency to ensure minimum delays, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, Minister of Justice, said on Monday.

Mr Otoo also the Attorney - General said they needed adequate stationery, efficient and modern computers, heavy-duty photocopiers, scanners and printers, to be able to work efficiently.

Inaugurating an eight-member Governing Board of the Council for Law Reporting in Accra, he said "law reporting must keep pace with the times", adding, "this Governing Council must explore ways and means not only to print the backlog, but also to reduce the time of printing and aim at a weekly law report".

He stressed that when the manuscripts were ready, the Council could appeal to Cabinet for funds, or even go to the money market to borrow to print, and sell later at a profit and pay back.

The Board has Mr Justice (Dr) Samuel Kofi Date-Baah, a Supreme Court Judge and a representative of the Judiciary as its chairman, MORE Mr Otoo said; "the Council shall be responsible for the preparation and publication of the report, known as 'the Ghana Law Reports', containing the judgements, rulings and opinions of the Superior Courts in the country".

He said the work of the law reporter was a tedious one and that the staff needed to be trained to edit judgement, opinions and rulings of the courts.

He said "like legislative drafters, they are a special breed of lawyers whose sole occupation as lawyers is academic research and reporting, but not advocacy in the law courts". The Minister stressed that without law reporters, both the Bench and the Bar would not be able to predict what the State of the law was, and advocates would find it difficult to know where to find the law, since it was said that the lawyers job was not to know the law, but where to find the law.

He was emphatic that "at least when it comes to 'case law' no member of the Bar or the Bench can underrate the work of the Council". Mr Otoo noted that in Ghana, there were two other Law Reports - The Ghana Bar Reports, published by the Ghana Bar Association and the Supreme Court Ghana Law Reports, edited by Dr S. Y. Bimpong-Buta. He further noted that in contrast, the Ghana Bar Reports concentrated on judgements, rulings and opinions of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, while the Supreme Court Ghana Law Reports concentrated only on selected opinions of the Supreme Court.

Members of the Council include Mr Yaw Benneh, representing the Dean of Law Faculty, of the University of Ghana; Mr Daniel Ransford Kodi Sankah, Editor of the Ghana Law Reports; Mrs Efua Ghartey, a representative of the Ghana Bar Association; Mr Cab-Beyuo, a nominee of the Attorney - General.

The rest are Ft. Lt. Franklin Adja-Codjoe (rtd), a representative of Ghana Publishing; Mr G.D.A. Laryea, government nominee and Mr Kofi Harlley, Chief State Attorney, also a government nominee. The Council for Law Reporting was established under the Council for Law Reporting Decree, 1972 (NRCD 64), as amended by PNDC Law 194 and Law 234.

In his acceptance remarks, Mr Justice (Dr.) Date-Baah said since the fruits of technological innovation in recent times offered opportunities for new modes of disseminating the Ghana Law Reports and its allied products, the Board would explore all the available avenues. He said the compilation of an electronic database of all the reportable judgements of the superior courts would greatly facilitate law reporting.

This, "in turn would enable the Ghana Law Reports to be available on line," adding, "this is a mature common law jurisdiction and we owe it to ourselves to make our voice count in the evolution of doctrine and jurisprudence in the common law world".

He thanked the government for the confidence reposed in the members and promised that they would discharge their duties diligently.

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