Justices of the Superior Courts have been equipped with the rudiments of Maritime law to help adjudicate matters of pirate attacks in Ghana’s territorial waters.
Ghana has since 2020 recorded some pirate attacks in its territorial waters in the Gulf of Guinea.
Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah said while adjudicating some of these matters, the issues of the arrest of ships, Judicial sale and distribution of proceeds would arise and, therefore, “my Lords and Lady Justices will have to be well equipped to deal with them in a manner that will stimulate economic growth.”
The Chief Justice was speaking at the 13th Maritime Law Seminar for the Judges of the Superior Courts of Ghana in Accra.
The two-day Seminar aimed to promote sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development in the country.
He said the attacks were mainly on ships transporting bulk petroleum and its products and those carrying exotic goods.
He said the Maritime Law Seminar would apprise the Judges of the rudiments of Maritime law, a relatively complex area of law.
Chief Justice expressed gratitude to the Management of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority and the Judicial Training Institute for the important venture to deepen the professional process of adjudicating maritime cases.
“You need to keep this collaboration going to ensure that Justices were consistently updated with the requisite knowledge in the specialized field of Maritime Law,” he added.
He said the advent of COVID-19 has brought a whole new phase to almost every aspect of doing things, including justice delivery.
He said for the maritime, shipping and logistics sector, the challenges have been enormous.
The Chief Justice said with all these challenges, the country needed to be grateful to the international shipping transport services as the current disruption in the global supply chain would have been worse.
He said shipping was the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods and it provided a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations and peoples.
Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah said three very critical areas of Maritime Law are: Piracy and Terrorism, Bills of Lading and Transport Documents in use in International Trade and Arrest of Ships, Judicial Sale and Distribution of Proceeds.
“These are going to be elaborated to the understanding of my Lords and Lady Justices,” he added.
He said the experience was to bring to the fore the peculiar nature of seaborne trade and transport and to give a practical disposition to the realities of executing court orders in the maritime sector.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Shippers Authority said the Authority over the years, had mediated and resolved thousands of shipper complaints.
She said the experience gathered while executing that mandate of the Authority provided a glimpse of the enormous task Judges have in the adjudication of cases to promote social justice and facilitate the operations of a fair, efficient and transparent legal system.
She commended the Lords and Lady Justices for their sustained interest and continued participation over the years in these seminars.
She said the year 2020 presented the shipping and logistics industry with major challenges and as a result of COVID-19, there was a surge in freight rates, container shortages, issues with shipping capacity, port congestion and a general fall in port productivity.
Ghana is currently confronted with high freight rates, eliciting many concerns.
She said the government, in the last few years, had invested heavily in electronic systems and adopted new policy regimes to facilitate trade.
The CEO said an example was the introduction of the Paperless Port Clearance System and the operation of Single Window Platform through the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).
She said the Ghana Revenue Authority reported that ICUMS, for the period between June 2020 to April 2021 generated a total of GHC 18.1 billion in revenue to the government nearly a year after its full roll-out at the nation’s land and sea borders.
“It is estimated that it generates about between GHC1.3 billion to GHC 1.4 billion monthly to the government, these are unprecedented figures,” she added.
Ms Bismarck said these two initiatives had shown the importance of technology and innovation to revenue generation.