The Chief Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo on Thursday reiterated the commitment of the judicial service to continue with bold reforms to help transform the justice delivery systems and to support the ease of doing business.
Speaking at a meeting organised by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Ghana Association of Restructuring and Insolvency Advisors, Madam Akuffo said an effective and efficient judicial system, which ensures that disputes were resolved in a structured and orderly manner, fosters economic growth and stability.
Madam Akuffo, who spoke on the topic “Reforming the Judiciary to Enhance the Ease of Doing Business,” said the respect for property rights and contract enforcement, as well as the predictability in the framework of rules, which were important requirement for growth of business, needed to be promoted.
“The confidence business men and women have that their contract and property rights will be determined by an independent and impartial judiciary is vital to the facilitation of business,” she said.
In this direction, the Chief Justice said, the judicial service had since 2001 started a bold reform programme to help transform the systems of justice delivery in a bid to ensure an independent, impartial, effective and efficient justice system.
She said the rules of procedure in every level of court had been reviewed and replaced with new constitutional instruments that had a major focus on ensuring effective, efficient and final binding decision making process.
Madam Akuffo said the reform process led to the establishment of specialised courts, ensured the language at the High Court was made simpler and rules made easier to use.
Also, new and extensive rules have been incorporated on proceedings, relating to intellectual property and other rights in response to market needs, she said.
Madam Akuffo said special rules of court had been formulated for the commercial courts to support businesses with effective justice delivery.
She emphasised the importance of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in bringing ease to doing business, saying it is faster, fosters friendship among the parties and ensures continuity of business.
She said to ensure certainty and reduce abuse of the administrative machinery; the Rules of Court have directed every suit filed in the Commercial Division be subjected to Pre-trial settlement conference.
This allows parties to take mediation and negotiation outside of the courts to any expert forum that can better help in negotiations or assist in dispute resolution.
Madam Akuffo also said the Judicial Training Institute (JTI), which is headed by an Appeal Court Judge, ensures the requisite leadership authority in the training of all members of the judiciary and the judicial service.
The JTI programmes do not only focus on refreshing training in black letter of law, but in judicial ethics, skills and technical ICT skills.
Addressing the concern over land and property rights as well as sanctity of contract, she said a specialized Land Courts for the speedy adjudication of land and property rights disputes had been set up.
She said the courts had jurisdiction in land litigations and were empowered to apply the provision in the rules to determine the preliminary boundary issues to dispose matters at its early stages without going through the full trial.
Concerning the corruption in business transaction, she assured citizenry of an efficient and effective system of justice that will deal with exposure of corrupt transactions and said that the propensity in business transaction will be licensed.
She added that the introduction of the digital address system will help move the filing and service of court processes electronically.
Mr Robert Jackson, the American Ambassador to Ghana, lauded the steps Ghana is taking to improve the business climate, including plans to streamline business processes, lower taxes for businesses, provide entrepreneurship support and reform customs clearance processes at Tema Port.
He said companies seeking to invest in Ghana were attracted by the stability and success of Ghana’s democracy but said challenges such corruption and lack of transparency were impeding Ghana’s economy’s move forward.