Chief Justice urges the Bench to reassure scholarly judgement

conferenceThe Chief Justice (CJ), Georgina Theodora Wood, has asked members of the bench to reassess themselves in scholarly judgement as well as their relationship with the academia.

“As judges, colleagues, our judgement have been criticised for lacking in any depth of jurisprudence, not always but sometimes,” she told the bench at the opening of the 2015 Faculty, Bench and Bar Conference in Accra yesterday.

The CJ said: “ours in scholarly enterprise and the more rigorous and sound our arguments, the better the quality of judicial outcomes and concomitantly, the better developed the boundaries of our jurisprudence.”

Mrs. Justice Wood also urged the legal academics to be circumspect in their choice of words “even as in the name of academic freedom, they exercise their right to freedom of expression.”

Membership of the bar, the bench and the academia from the law faculties are attending the conference, the first in 35 years, to exchange views on diverse issues affecting the legal profession, administration of justice, the rule of law and the governance of the country.

The Chief Justice lamented over the issue of remand prisoners stressing that key interventions had been put in place to resolve the issue.

Enumerating measures to ensure the non occurrence of the problem, Mrs. Justice Wood said a key intervention was the decision to dedicate the months of April and May solely to the hearing of cases of remandees, indicating that the period would be extended should the need arose.

She said six circuit courts had been selected to undertake the urgent assignment, and that the notices regarding the venues, hearing dates and other relevant information would be made available in due course, urging the members of the legal fraternity to lend their support to the initiative.

The CJ said in spite of reform initiatives to address challenges in the administration of justice at great financial cost to the nation, institutional cultures, attitudes, tendencies and individual moves had remained somewhat resistant to change.

“Complaints of unprofessional behaviours by some members of the legal profession and the equally slow pace of   the administration of justice continue to undermine the level of public confidence in our work and our place   as leading lights in democratic governance,” she said.

On legal education, the Chief Justice said the training of lawyers had witnessed massive and dramatic changes with the establishment of new law degrees conferring faculties of law hinting that the GLC was in the process of establishing an independent board of legal examination for students and graduates from various faculties seeking admission into the Ghana School of Law.

The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Nene Abayaateye Amegatcher, traced the origin of the annual conference to 1967 when it was first held in the country as lectures, until 1977 when it was last held and remarked “this historic conference is the beginning of a renaissance within the legal fraternity.”

The conference was critical of the democratic survival, the sustenance of the rule of law, and good governance in the country, noting that “negative criticism is destructive but constructive criticism helps institutions to develop.”

He urged the tripartite bench, bar and the faculty to use the meeting to assess themselves and do proper introspection.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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