The Ghana Bar Association has condemned the rampant cases of missing dockets at the various courts which is affecting justice delivery in the country.
It has thus called on the country’s Judicial Service to ensure that the registrars of the various courts take steps to effectively monitor movements of dockets covering cases before the various courts.
“GBA expresses serious concern about the rampant incidents of missing dockets at the courts,” the Association said in its resolution passed at the end of the 2017/2018 annual conference in Sunyani.
The missing of case dockets and other court records in the various courts has become common in Ghana’s judiciary. There have been alleged reports of some court officials deliberately causing the disappearance of records in order to extort money from litigants.
In July 2014, the Daily Graphic reported missing docket forced the James Town Magistrate Court in Accra to suspend judgment in a case which had gone through full trial for two years. According to the report, the registrar, Ms Grace Gunugu, in the absence of the docket, prevailed on the parties to reach a consensus on three options — the case starts afresh, the two parties supply their copies of the proceedings for the case to continue or they petition the Chief Justice.
They were given two weeks to decide. Again, a former Attorney General, Nii Ayikoi Otoo and a court clerk at the High Court in Accra in March 2015 exchanged words over a missing docket, which was sent to the filing section of the court’s registry. Condemning the issue of missing dockets, the GBA underscored the need for the registrars of the Judicial Service to be proactive by generating temporary dockets in the event that the original dockets go missing, arguing such a move would “facilitate expeditious determination of cases”.
Meanwhile, the GBA has urged its members to continue provide pro-bono and legal aid services to the poor and deprived in society who otherwise may not be able to afford legal services.
It has also affirmed its commitment to upholding the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law and reassures the public that “the Bar will never shirk its duty to take steps to defend and protect the independence and integrity of the judiciary”.