July 24, 2024
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CJ stops Supreme Court, Court of Appeal registrars from allocating dates

The Registrars of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have been directed to stop allocating dates to cases until such time when the cases are ready to be heard, the Chief Justice (CJ) has said.

The directive to these Registrars which was issued on August 1, 2023, when the legal vacation commenced, was to ensure that cases filed are dealt with within the reasonable timelines prescribed by law.

The CJ, Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo who made this disclosure at the 2023 Annual General Conference of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) said the directive is to deal swiftly with cases that are ready for hearing.

“A close examination of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules 204 reveals that trials are designed to be concluded within a span of six (6) months to one (1) year, while applications should not extend beyond three weeks if processes are served on time, and responded to within the mite provided for pleadings and affidavits,” the CJ stated.

“Regrettably, the average case often drags on beyond three (3) years, and hearing of applications drags on for months.

“These protracted delays place an immense burden on parties and create undue levels of stress for parties, lawyers, and Judges. This is the reason why on 1st August 2023, I directed that the Registrars of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court should not allocate dates to cases while we review all pending cases to ensure that they are fixed for hearing only when they are properly ready to be heard.

“This exercise of ensuring that cases are fixed for hearing on dates that are supported by the Rules of Court will be continued in all courts to protect Judges and court users from disruptive and unproductive adjournments, while compelling lawyers and parties to pay attention to the directions of time in the rules of court.

“We must all work to improve case management not only by judges but also from the Registries and will be working actively
with Registrars on this singular objective.

“This is critical because when there is failure of diligence and competence in legal representation and subsequent loss to clients, we find the unfortunate situation of citizenry thinking that such loss was provoked by a compromised judicial environment,” the CJ stated.

“This unfortunate situation is made worse when court staff or persons working on the fringes of the justice delivery system ask citizens for money.

“I believe that there is hardly a Judge in this room who has not heard rumours of parties who claim to have given that Judge money when that rumour is manifestly untrue,” Justice Torkornoo stated.

“I have been subjected to that horror before and know many Judges who have experienced the situation,” she explained.

The AMJG two-day conference which started on September 27, was on the theme: A Financially Independent and Accountable Judiciary: The Key to Effective Justice Delivery.

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