President of the Ashanti Regional branch of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Francis Koffie, says the wheels of justice in the country have become too rusty that cases elongate in the orthodox judicial system unduly.
A case that may be projected to take four days or less to resolve as lawyers usually state in their application for directions sometimes lasts forever, according to him.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day seminar on arbitration advocacy for lawyers, judges and other professionals involved in arbitration, Mr Koffie said the cost of resolving disputes in the orthodox judicial system far outweighs that of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The seminar was organised by the Ghana ADR Hub, a dispute resolution institution set up to provide mediation, arbitration services to individuals, private businesses and public entities.
“Apart from the time spent or wasted in resolving some matters in the orthodox way, the concomitant costs, psychological and physical exhaustion and risk are equally daunting,” the GBA President declared.
He cited a case that is still pending at a Kumasi High Court, which was filed in 1963 by the late Lawyer Owusu Yaw and appearance entered by the late Justice Agyepong.
“The case relates to a simple issue of the validity of an auction sale conducted in 1962. Multiple lawyers, including my own senior, late Obeng Manu and numerous substituted parties, have come and gone, but the case is still pending.”
“The purchaser, who has since died and his family have still not had the opportunity to take possession of the property, and the judgment debtor (also dead) and his family continue to be in possession. Certainly, this is a clear case of justice delayed, justice denied, Koffie argued.
There was a case of even more complex nature which was referred for ADR by another judge that was resolved within two sittings to the satisfaction of the parties and lawyers involved, the Ashanti GBA President stated.
It’s therefore not surprising that the composite value of ADR has been appreciated by most people in recent times, as ADR has become the preferred mode for resolving inevitable human disputes globally, receiving both public legislative affirmation and mutual private endorsement in most commercial and international transaction agreements.
The supervising judge of the Ashanti Region, Justice Nicholas Agbodakpi, indicated that there had been a paradigm shift, as the judicial service had adopted arbitration as part of conflict resolution.
According to him, the judicial service has instituted ADR mechanisms and trained over 100 applicants as mediators to use arbitration and mediation to resolve disputes.
He asserted that the mediators, who have been assigned to circuit and district courts across the country, have so far dealt with 42 cases referred to them, intimating that the ADR has helped to reduce the cases at the various courts.
Justice Abodakpi disclosed that 84,786 cases were pending before the country’s court as of December 2017, with seven High Courts in the Ashanti Region recording 2,708 cases in the year under review.
This portrays Ghana as an unfriendly environment to do business and the Chief Justice, Sophia Abena Akuffo, has made judges to resort to ADR.
The supervising court judge argued that ADR remains the best mode to resolve disputes in today’s world in spite of the few disadvantaged that come with it.
President of the Ghana ADR Hub, Michael Gyan Owusu, on his part, pledged the commitment of the ADR institution to resolving disputes in the country.
News Source: Modern Ghana