In part 1 of this series, I captured the overbearing harm caused to Ghanaian LLB holders who seek admission to the Ghana School of Law to pursue the professional law programme. I also recounted the lack of vision by the managers of the professional legal education and practice which has almost become a monstrous deception hence impeding easy accessibility for legal representation of aggrieved person who want to seek justice.
I went on further to discuss vision 1 of what should be done towards ameliorating the Ghana Law School huddle in three (3) stages of levels 1 to 3. It was directed to focus more on practical training after obtaining the LLB so as to gain full legal professional status to practice in all Ghanaian courts of competent jurisdiction. By going through levels 1 to 3, the lawyer acquires five (5) years of professional practice to attain a full lawyer status.
In this part 2, I will discuss vision 2; the importance of the Integrated Court Management System (ICMS) as an effective tool to administering justice, and also propose for a new demarcation and creation of Court Regions in Ghana.
- Integrated Court Management System (ICMS)
The Integrated Court Management System is a justice management software system that allows for the administration of impartiality, accurate record keeping and speedy process of justice. This allows for effective monitoring and evaluation of performances in the administration of justice.
Also, the Integrated Court Management System is an information technology (IT) tool that receives all cases filed in court and distributes the cases to the appropriate courts for hearing. Cases are uploaded electronically into the Integrated Court Management System to limit the volume of paper movement and loss of filed processes usually caused intentionally by persons to tilt justice in favour of one of the parties in dispute.
Let nobody with knowledge of the judiciary in Ghana pretend to give a blind eye to the existence of criminal personnel in the service. The Anas exposé has become the locus classicus to pointing to the corruption of justice in the judiciary; victors became vanquish and vice versa. The effective use of the Integrated Court Management System will be to limit if not to eradicate the corruption of justice.
The lack of good IT infrastructure and personnel in the Ghanaian judiciary must be a concern for worry. Feeding court proceedings into the Integrated Court Management System should be a daily activity. Where parties in dispute request for records of court proceedings have to wait for days, weeks and sometimes do not even get it impedes the judicial process.
The lower courts are the biggest culprits of justice mal-administration with virtually most of their court processes leaving doubts in the minds of the well-educated and enlightened. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be manifestly done at all levels of Ghanaian courts; this will bring hope to poor innocent citizens who have lost faith in the justice system and do not think they will obtain justice when aggrieved.
The rich, famous and powerful may buy their way out of the system contrarily to the poor as heard in many cases of poor village dwellers been sentenced to many years imprisonment for less meaning offences while some “rich” men and women in big suits in the city continue to enjoy judicial freedom. Justice must and should never be for sale to the highest bidder.
Failure by managers of the Ghana’s legal institution has led to huge backlog of cases in the courts giving an impression that it is the incompetence of lawyers therefore they must forcibly discourage many applicants to the professional law programme. Swift administration of justice, affordable legal fee and easy access to lawyers will encourage many more aggrieved persons to seek justice. This will propel an equitable society.
- New demarcation and creation of Court Regions in Ghana
With the creation of six (6) more regions in Ghana making a total of sixteen (16) regions, the demand for judicial administration is widened. I do not think that the managers of Ghana’s legal institution have in the contemplation a need to quickly spread up judicial administration to the six (6) new regions.
If managers of Ghana’s legal institution have thought of what the ramification of delays in establishing courts of competent jurisdiction in the six (6) new regions will cause to the administration of justice, their approach to professional education will not be as frolicsome as it is.
Also, if it is the intention of the managers of Ghana’s legal institution to be lackadaisical in envisioning the judicial future to work at making it good, posterity will forever remember them as people who led humanity down when that had the utmost opportunity to make the judiciary better for succeeding generations. Not having a vision is an aggravated sin.
My vision for a new demarcation and creation of Court Regions is to divide the sixteen (16) regions into four (4). An important focus for the new Court Regions will be inter alia to hear special cases peculiar to the resources of the regions such as mining, farming, fishing, oil & gas, information technology, etc.
This is how the proposed Court Regions will be demarcated and created:
Court Region 1: Greater Accra, Volta, Oti and Eastern
All four (4) regions will be under one Court Region and will constitute one regional Bar Association. The combination of these regions as one Court Region will help develop the judicial administration of the Oti region. And also serve as checks and balances on the effective judicial administration of the all-inclusive court region.
Instead of the existing single regional Bar Associations, the court region Bar Association will be stronger and more energetic in development. Part of the development will be to drive for a speedy establishment of a High Court in the Oti region since the three (3) other regions have High Courts.
The regional court will have the creation of an Appeals Court to hear all Appeal cases from the regional court. Probably, the Appeals Court in Accra may serve this purpose. This will ease the pressure of all national Appeal cases from been heard in Accra.
Court Region 2: Central, Western, Western North and Ahafo
This court region has two (2) newly created regions namely; Western North and Ahafo. This means that unlike Court Region 1, the judicial burden on Court Region 2 will be greater. They will need to have a High Court in each of the two (2) new regions likewise the establishment of an Appeals Court to serve the Court Region.
The effectiveness of Court Region 2 will further require more lawyers to practice in all the courts. This evokes the argument in vision 1 of part 1 of this series. To drum it continuously, Ghana has to re-engineer its professional legal education and practice. The current situation is not good and epitomises lack of vision by the authorities.
Also, Court Region 2 will constitute one regional Bar Association. The existence of Central and Western regions will help the speedy judicial development of Western North and Ahafo while serving as checks and balances on the effective judicial administration of the Court Region.
Court Region 3: Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Bono East and Savannah
Synonymous to Court Region 2, Court Region 3 has two (2) new regions namely Bono East and Savannah. Together, they will have to constitute one regional Bar Association. It is expected that the strength of legal practice in the Ashanti region and the not so bad practice in the Brong Ahafo region can suitably support the two (2) new regions.
There is the need to have a High Court in each of the two (2) new regions likewise the establishment of an Appeals Court to serve the Court Region. Again like Court Region 2, a smooth practice in Court Region 3 will require more lawyers to practice in all the courts. This further evokes the argument in vision 1 of part 1 of this series.
To drum it continuously, Ghana has to re-engineer its professional legal education and practice. The current situation is not good and epitomises lack of vision by the authorities.
Court Region 4: Upper West, Upper East, North East and Northern
Perhaps Court Region 4 is the most deficient in term of legal practice in Ghana. Though it has only one new region; North East. I wonder the strength of legal practice in Upper West and Upper East regions. The Northern region has been the pivot of legal practice for both Upper West and East.
With the creation of the North East region, all four regions will have to constitute one regional Bar Association. Aside the Northern region, there is the need to create a High Court in each of the three (3) new regions likewise the establishment of an Appeals Court to serve the Court Region.
More lawyers will be required to practice in this Court Region. This precipitates the argument in vision 1 of part 1 of this series. Ghana has to re-engineer its professional legal education and practice. The current situation is not good and characterises lack of vision by the authorities.
In part 3 which will be the final part of this series will be vision 3, I will consider the population argument and the need for government to target an expansion of the legal institution to meet the anticipate population increase in the near future.
I will also discuss training, appointment and promotion of Judges to fit into the various Court Regions and finally draw a conclusion by calling on all well-meaning Ghanaians to rise up against the “wickedness” and the sitting “duck” position of the managers of legal education and practice hindering the administration of justice.