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Business News of Friday, 11 October 2013

Source: GNA

Chief Justice establishes maritime courts

The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Wood, on Thursday announced the establishment of maritime courts in Accra, Tema and Takoradi to handle maritime cases. She said with the offshore discovery and the exploitation of Ghana’s oil and gas resources coupled with increased international trade it had become imperative to establish these courts.

The Chief Justice was speaking at the 9th Maritime Law Seminar for Judges of the Superior courts of Ghana in Accra. The conference, organized by the Ghana Shipper’s Authority (GSA) in collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute (JTI), is to help update the knowledge of the judges to enable them apply the appropriate international regulations and laws when adjudicating maritime disputes.

Justice Wood said her office had entered into a two-year collaborative partnership with the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) for a sponsorship package for three judges to undertake post graduate specialization in maritime law.

She said through the instrumentality of the GSA the three judges secured the sponsorship from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and that the first of the three judges would participate in the upcoming LLM programme on October 25 at the IMO Law Institute in Malta.

She said the establishment of the courts would afford the judiciary the opportunity to expand the legal frontiers of their jurisdiction. Mrs Justice Wood stated that increased globalization, the complexity of this age and the range of legal services and dispute resolution options made it imperative for a radical change in the focus and culture of legal education and judicial practice.

She said there was the urgent need for judges and lawyers to understand the principle of technical legal subjects such as intellectual property, complex contracts, insurance law, regulatory and tax laws, new customs and international practices and commerce as well as various areas of which were hitherto unchartered.

Mrs Marrietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, expressed the hope that the seminar would equip the judges with the requisite skills to enable them demonstrate to the international business community that Ghana’s judiciary stands tall in her dispensation of justice not only in the general practice of the law but also in the specialized areas.

She said the business community and for that matter the trust reposed by Ghanaian citizens in the judicial system would be strengthened if judges had in-depth and diversity of knowledge which extend into the intricate and technical fields of law governing commercial matters and especially international trade and transport issues.

Dr Kofi Mbeah, Chief Executive of the GSA, said over the past eight years the seminar had created awareness for the bench and bar in the area of maritime law and to ensure a deeper appreciation of the nuances in this specialized field. He said continuing legal education would enhance the decisions of judges and help create bedrock of precedents upon which maritime jurisprudence would be anchored.

He said the quest of the Authority is to address the pertinent issues that confront importers and exporters and to make them more competitive is on the ascendancy. “Day in day out we are examining new modes and methods for addressing the challenges that confront shippers,” he added.

Dr Mbeah also stated that with the passage of the Ghana Shippers Authority Regulations (2012) LI 2190, the GSA is now strengthened to discharge its role of protecting and promoting interest of shippers in furtherance of the enhancement of Ghana’s international trade.

He said the GSA had concluded negotiations with shipping service providers operating at the ports and had started the publication of various shipping rates for the benefit of importers and exporters. He said the efforts of the GSA in that direction would continue and soon include service level agreements which would set standards of operation for service providers.