… To Expedite Resolution of Civil Cases Within Six Months
Senior Law lecturer Dr. Raymond Atuguba has advocated an overhaul of civil litigation in Ghana’s courts which should see civil cases resolved within six months.
In a 28-page speech at the annual Ghana Bar Association conference in Sunyani, the senior law lecturer at the University of Ghana called for the abolition of the writ system as part of 11 recommendations for reforms.
Senior lecturer at the University of Ghana law faculty received thunderous applause when he made eleven recommendations for changes in the practice of law and justice delivery.
The law lecturer referred to damming statistics on the rate of justice delivery and concluded with disappointment that the snail-pace of justice delivery in Ghana is dangerous.
“The year 2000 only saw 1,777 of the 28,665 cases filed disposed of. That accounts to a measly 6.2% of the total cases filed”.
“The highest disposal rate recorded by the researchers was from 2004/05 year, when the court managed to dispose of 34.3% of the cases filed. Year after year, 66 to 94% of the cases that go to the court are left hanging in the air.”
Raymond Atuguba explained that with a growing resort to ligitation in the country, this disappointing rate of justice delivery threatens to undermine the faith of citizens.
If we want to keep our clients happy; if we want to keep money flowing our way; if the courts hope to remain the go to place for dispute resolution, then we must necessarily take steps to ensure that we eliminate the practices that are sure to drive away those who come to the courts to resolve matters affecting their lives.
Cases that take years to determine can actually be dealt with within six months or less if Ghana’s judicial system will embrace reforms including abolition of the writ system and resort to technology, he said.
Known for his radical ideas for judicial reforms including doing away with the wig and gown and addressing the canker of corruption, Dr. Atuguba now wants even letters to be accepted as a method to commence legal proceedings in special circumstances.
He explained this is to avoid injustice to litigants because of insistence on technical methods long abandoned by progressive democracies.
He applauds judges who have recently allowed court processes to be served using social media platforms such as whatsapp and Facebook messenger as he calls for such flexible means to be litigation as a rule rather than the exception.
“We must start serving processes by WhatsApp. And before you say I am crazy, let us examine what happened in Kwabena Ofori Addo v Hidalgo Energy & Julian Admoako Gymah. In this case, substituted service was ordered to be done by WhatsApp.
“This was a 2015 case, with Suit No. AC/198/2015 for those of you who think I am making things up. The case was handled by Dr. Kweku Ainuson, a fellow colleague at the University of Ghana School of Law.”
“More recently, he managed to convince another Ghanaian judge that a writ of summons (with statement of claim attached) would definitely find an evasive defendant on Facebook Messenger.
“Justice Sophia R. Bernasko-Essah agreed and granted the order for substituted service by Facebook in IFS Financial Services Limited v Jonathan Mensah & Stanley Owusu, Suit no GJ563/2017 (again for those who think I am making things up.”
For Dr. Atuguba there is such rapid change in the way business is done that lawyers and the justice delivery must be quick to reform or suffer greatly.