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General News Tue, 30 Sep 1997

Aikins Calls For Cooperation Between The Bar And The Bench

Ho,(Volta Region) 29, Sept. Mr Justice G.E.K. Aikins, acting Chief Justice, today impressed on both the Bar and the Bench to cooperate in creating a conducive environment for effective private sector development. This, he said, will require mutual respect and harmony, efficient and modernized approach to their roles without any external influence. Mr Justice Aikins was delivering the opening address at this year's four-day conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in Ho under the theme ''The Development Of The Private Sector: Basis For Sound Democratic Governance''. He said the private sector is needed to create employment opportunities for the people to guarantee them decent living necessary for promoting democracy. ''It, therefore, behoves the bench and the bar and all stakeholders in our infant democracy to do everything possible to ensure the development of the private sector as it is no doubt one of the pillars of sound democratic governance,'' he said. He told members of the bench and the bar that they should, in all cases, be guided by the public interest rather than by technicalities and parochial interests. Dr Obed Asamoah, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said the imposition of interim injunctions by the courts is counter- productive in the context of development projects and investments. ''It should be possible for the courts to be restrained in the imposition of interim injunctions in order to allow development and investment projects to proceed,'' he suggested. He said directions from the judiciary are needed to ensure that the court system established by the constitution does not promote abuse of court procedures. Dr Asamoah called on members of the Bench and the Bar to support alternative dispute resolution as a mechanism for expeditious resolution of disputes and not as an affront to the judiciary. He appealed to lawyers to support the legal aid scheme in view of its relevance to the sustenance of the country's democracy. He said the government welcomes criticisms just as it needs to be commended for positive achievements. Dr Asamoah called on the Bar Association not to project itself in ''the image of an opposition group'', saying like the private sector, the GBA needs the cooperation of the government to be fully effective. Mr Sam Okudzeto, President of the GBA, called for the establishment of commercial courts to deal with commercial cases as a way of encouraging investment in the country. He suggested that the statute establishing the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice be amended to allow the commission to appoint a special independent prosecutor which will have the power to compel the submission of documents needed for its investigations. Mr Okudzeto said the submission of the reports of the Special Fraud Office to the Attorney-General and minister of Justice is inappropriate because of the likelihood of such reports being shelved for political reasons. He commended the government for organising a recent forum on the economy and asked that this should be a regular feature so as to ensure that a national consensus is reached on all issues of national importance. Mr T.K. Adzoe, Volta regional president of the association, said members of the bar have the duty to ensure that the various organs of state do their duties as required of them to ensure the establishment of an enduring democracy and development in the country. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles K. Agbenaza (Rtd), Volta regional minister, and Togbe Dagadu the Fourth, paramount chief of Akpini traditional area and a member of the Council of State were among those present.

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