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06.04.2006 General News

More courtrooms for Commercial Court - Chief Justice


Accra April 6, GNA - Government is to provide funds to establish eight additional courtrooms to beef up work in the existing Commercial Courts of the Judicial Service, Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice, said on Thursday.

The Commercial Court Unit, inaugurated on March 4, 2005, has six courtrooms.

Speaking the at the first anniversary of the Commercial Courts in Accra, Mr Justice Acquah said four out of the eight courts would deal with commercial crimes including violations of the Financial Administration Act, 2003.

"It would also enforce the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament while the remaining four would deal with investment related land cases."

Mr Justice Acquah said the inclusion of commercial crime would require the creation of a special commercial crime unit in the Police Service to investigate commercial crime activities. He explained that the courts integrate investigation, prosecution and adjudication as functions of the criminal justice systems that could ensure its success.

However, the Chief Justice mentioned the provision of attractive allowances and other incentives to judges and staffing as major challenges.

"The need to work out attractive packages for the judges and staff of the court is becoming more prominent as judges and staff of those court work extra hours.

"The earlier we respond appropriately with the right motivation package, the better for the effectiveness and efficiency." The Chief Justice recounted the difficulty in getting Lawyers to tune themselves to the pre-trial settlement procedure, which was new in the country's court systems.

These problems, notwithstanding, the Chief Justice said the request for transfer of suits from other courts to the Commercial court units established the growing confidence the public had in them. In a speech read for Vice President Alhaji Alui Mahama, he congratulated the Judiciary for its exemplary leadership in establishing the Commercial Court as an important vehicle that was making it easier to do business in Ghana.

"If we want to become a significant destination for international and domestic capital, it is important to provide for predictability and protection of asset through this court," he declared. The Vice President lauded the ongoing crusade against corruption in the administration of justice through self-assessment and adherence to ethical standards.

Commenting on the national motto, "Freedom and Justice," he noted that most Ghanaians want to enjoy for free every aspect of life without any responsibility or regard to the freedom of others.

According to the Vice President, the liberties that people crave for sometimes degenerate into licence "for irresponsible behaviour.

"That is why we degrade our environment so much that in Accra and in our towns and villages, there is garbage everywhere and no one wants to take firm responsibility for dealing with the real root cause". Mr Justice Marful-Sau, President of the Commercial Court Unit, noted that some legal practitioners continued to see the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) concept as alien and did not cooperate fully during mediation sessions.

He, therefore, stressed the need to sensitise the Members of the Bar to embrace the ADR concept wholeheartedly.

Mr Justice Marful-Sau said out of the 472 cases filed 164 had been settled.