Presentation on theme: "THE COURTS STRUCTURE IN GHANA- BY SAMUEL MARFUL-SAU, JUSTICE OF APPEAL."— Presentation transcript:
THE COURTS STRUCTURE IN GHANA- BY SAMUEL MARFUL-SAU, JUSTICE OF APPEAL.
Ghana as a former British colony on attaining independence opted for the common law legal system practiced in Britain. This system is adversarial in that the opponents are given the opportunity to present their cases to an independent judge who delivers a judgment after hearing the parties. The Judge or Magistrate in Ghana is thus an independent umpire.
There are two categories of courts in Ghana, namely: the Superior Courts made up of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the Regional Tribunal. The Lower Courts consisting the Circuit Court and the District Court or such other lower courts that Parliament may by law establish.
It is the final appellate court of the country. It has supervisory jurisdiction over all courts in Ghana. It has exclusive original and appellate jurisdiction in all matters relating to the enforcement or interpretation of the constitution. It has exclusive jurisdiction in matters as to whether an enactment was made in excess of the powers of Parliament or any other authority under the constitution.
It has exclusive appellate jurisdiction in cases of high treason, which by the constitution is to be tried by a special court made up of three High Court Judges. It hears appeals from the National House of Chiefs. The Supreme court is to consist of not less than nine Justices. The court is duly constituted with a panel of five Judges. It is headed by the Chief Justice.
The Court of Appeal serves as the appellate court for the High Court, Regional Tribunal and civil appeals from the Circuit Court. It has no original jurisdiction, it is purely an appellate court. Appeals from the Court of Appeal lies to the Supreme Court. It consist of the Chief Justice and not less than ten Justices of the Superior Court. The court is duly constituted by a panel of three.
The High Court is duly constituted by a single Judge, unless the court is required to sit with jurors or assessors. It has original jurisdiction in all civil or criminal matters unless otherwise specified by the constitution. It has appellate jurisdiction in appeals from the District Court and criminal appeals from the Circuit Court.
It has exclusive jurisdiction for the enforcement of the Fundamental Human Rights enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. It has supervisory jurisdiction over all lower courts in the country and all inferior judicial bodies like the CHRAJ, Regional and National House of Chiefs and also any administrative body that exercise quasi-judicial functions.
The High Court has various divisions aimed at promoting specialization as follows:- Fast Track Court; Commercial Court; Labour Court; Human Rights Court; Land Court; Economic and Financial Crimes Court; Family Court; Probate and Administration. There are currently over 95 High Courts scattered all over the country.
The Regional Tribunal only exercise special criminal jurisdiction to try offences against the state and public interest as Parliament may by law prescribe. By article 142 of the constitution there shall be established in each region such Regional Tribunal as the Chief Justice may determine. The Tribunal is constituted by a Chairman and not less than two panel members. Currently, the Regional Tribunal sits in Accra and Tamale.
The Circuit Court is manned by a Circuit Judge. It has jurisdiction in civil actions arising from contract or tort or for recovery of all liquidated claims not exceeding GHC 10, It has jurisdiction in landlord/tenant cases; ownership, possession, occupation and title to land cases. It has jurisdiction in probate and letters of Administration where the value of the property does not exceed GHC 10,000.00
It also has jurisdiction in matters involving custody of children. The circuit court has jurisdiction in all criminal matters other than treason and offences punishable by death. Appeals from Circuit Court in civil cases lies to the Court of Appeal and criminal cases lies to the High Court.
In March 2009, the Domestic Violence Court was established and manned by a Circuit Judge. The court deals with gender based violence in the society. It handles criminal cases like defilement, incest, indecent assault. It also hear civil cases like matrimonial causes and adoption of children. A similar court has been established in Kumasi since October 2011.
The District Court makes up the largest number of courts in the country. Each district in the country has at least one District court. The Family Court, Juvenile Court and the Motor Court are all District courts. It has civil jurisdiction in personal actions under contract and tort for recovery of liquidated sum not exceeding GHC5, In criminal matters it has jurisdiction to try summarily offences punishable by a fine not exceeding 500 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
This is a specialized District Court that hears and determine actions under the Childrens Act 1998(Act 560) It has jurisdiction in matters concerning parentage, custody of children, access to and maintenance of children. It hears cases concerning children in need of special care and protection. It can make care and supervision orders. The Tribunal sits with a panel consisting of a chairman and not less than two members, one being a Social Welfare Officer.
This court hears criminal or civil cases involving a person under the age of eighteen (18) years. The Chief Justice designates a District Court to sit as a Juvenile court. The court is composed of the District Magistrate and two other persons, one of whom shall be a Social Welfare Officer.
It is a specialised District Court mandated by the Chief Justice to handle Motor/ traffic cases. It is thus a special court for motor offences and traffic violations.
-By the 1992 constitution chieftaincy disputes are heard by the Judicial committees of the Traditional Authorities. - Matters heard by Traditional Councils can be appealed to the Regional House of Chiefs and a further appeal to the National House of chiefs. -The Supreme Court serves as the final court for the Chieftaincy Tribunals..