The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has outlined steps to be adopted within the legal environment to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
GBA in a statement issued a four-point guideline to help decongest courtrooms.
In a statement from the National Executive Committee, the Association entreated all its members to abide by the guidelines to ensure that the courts are decongested to safeguard the health and safety of members of the Bar, Bench, staff of the Judicial Service, litigants and the general public.
Below are the guidelines:
“1. In view of the fact that there are presently cases that have already been scheduled before Courts, Lawyers may communicate with their colleagues in a matter if they are desirous of adjournments.
2. Where a matter is pending in a Court, even if part-heard, Counsel may agree on a date and inform the Registrar of the relevant court accordingly by correspondence. Lawyers may opt to take long adjournments within the term.
3. All cases pending before the Courts must be adjourned to specific times on specific dates and lawyers must endeavour to appear only at the scheduled time.
4. Lawyers are to dispense with the presence of their clients and their acquaintances when applications are listed for hearing and in cases that are not part-heard. In cases that are part-heard, Lawyers must appear with the parties and witnesses scheduled to give evidence on the specific date.”
Earlier, the GBA was pushing for the suspension of court sittings for at least 14 days following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.
Their call followed extensive consultations with the Judicial Secretary regarding the current heightened concerns about the coronavirus.
Chief Justice demands flexible adjudication
The Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah had earlier directed judges and magistrates to grant long adjournments to cases that do not require immediate resolution.
This forms part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country following the increase in the number of recorded cases.
According to Chief justice, judges and magistrates should be flexible in granting adjournments during this period.
In a release to the media, Justice Anin Yeboah also asked the Ghana Bar Association to urge its members to attend court without their clients.
The association also advised all lawyers to “remain calm and help in the education drive in their communities to assist people to understand the guidelines which have been put by the relevant authorities.”
So far 16 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Ghana with no deaths.