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Supreme Court nominee to push for the Court’s powers to be reduced

Supreme Court nominee, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey, says he will be pushing for the jurisdiction of the highest court to be reduced as it is currently overwhelmed with cases that in his view, could be dealt with by the lower courts.

The apex court in its current form, he said, is inundated with cases and struggling to dispose of those cases, saying “the fact of the matter is that as at now, the Supreme Court is struggling to discharge its obligation”.

At his vetting in Accra Thursday, he observed there was a growing feeling that “too many cases,” which he said in the view of some people, could be dealt with by the High Court, but are rather starting at the Supreme Court.

Prof. Ashie Kotey indicated the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction on constitutional matters, appellate and review jurisdictions, is “being inundated [with cases]” something he somehow blamed lawyers for saying “we lawyers, we can constitutionalize every issue”

The former dean of the University of Ghana’s Law Faculty also held the Supreme Court has been given “extensive jurisdiction”, which according to him, has caused delays in cases before the Court, adding “cases are adjourned for long period because of the very extensive jurisdiction”

His comments was in response to whether the he subscribe to the idea that the number of the country’s Supreme Court judges which is constituted by the Chief Justice and not less than nine other justices, should be capped.

Member of Parliament for Hohoe, Bernice Helloo who is a member of the Appointments Committee asked him if he subscribe to the view that Ghana’s Supreme Court has too many, stating the US which has a bigger population than Ghana has only nine judges.

There are currently 14 judges of the Supreme Court.

“Until we have been able to creatively reduce the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, some may argue that we need more,” he said.

“I’m not, myself, in favour of keeping the jurisdiction as it is and increasing the numbers [judges]” he said, adding “I would be in favour of seeking ways of reducing the rather extensive jurisdiction of the court. It is only then that we can look at the numbers”.

Two Court of Appeal judges and two legal practitioners, including Prof. Ashie Kotey were in April 2018 nominated to the Supreme Court by President Nana Akufo-Addo.

They are justices Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Mrs. Agnes M.A. Dordzie, both Court of Appeal judges and Nene Amegatcher, former Ghana Bar Association President.

If approved by parliament, the number of Ghana’s Supreme Court judges will move to 16.

Prof. Ashie Kotey was an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, and for over 30 years, he was involved in development of higher education and civic issues.

He was a visiting lecturer in Nigeria as well as a visiting Scholar in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

He is said to have a rich and diverse experience in both academia and in the real world.

He has been Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission of Ghana,  Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon and Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law.

Prof. Kotey was a director of the Ghana Legal Literacy and Resource Foundation and the General Legal Council.

By Stephen Kwabena Effafh||Ghana

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