Negligence Of State Attorney Causes Huge Judgement Debt

Madam Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, Chief State Attorney, on Monday said she believed had the State Attorney pursued a case brought against the state by Henry Osei Dankwa, the state would have incurred a minimal judgement debt.

The complainant’s property was demolished during road works in Kumasi, upon which he took the Attorney General (AG) to court and secured a default judgement debt of GH¢1,450,000.00.

Madam Afriyie-Ansah made the remark when she appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission in Accra, in the matter Henry Osei Dankwa versus the AG, the Ministry of Transport, Amoo Gotfred, and Sarroch Jelfi J. V.

She said after the complainant had concluded giving evidence on November 5, 2008, November 10, 2008 was fixed for judgement, adding that there was no room for defence.

Mr Dometi Kofi Sokpor, Counsel for the Commission however, said according to the judgement delivered, the state did not pursue the defence.

Madam Afriyie-Ansah said Ms Helen Kwawukume, the then Chief State Attorney in-charge of the Kumasi office at the time case was brought against the state, was transferred to Accra. Madam Afriyie-Ansah said upon Ms Kwawukume departure, she (Ms Kwawukume) handed the files of the case to Mr Eric Kyei-Baffour, State Attorney in the Kumasi office.

She said Mr Kyei-Baffour only appeared once in court to ask for an adjournment but failed to inform the new Chief State Attorney in-charge of the Kumasi office.

The Chief Attorney said after judgement was delivered and cost awarded against the state, Mr Kyei-Baffour resigned and left the AG’s Department. She said Ms Kwawukume has since gone on retirement.

She explained that there were two judgements delivered in the matter, the first being a summary judgement and the second based on evidence given by the complainant on the sum involved.

Mr Justice Yaw Appau, Sole Commissioner wanted to know if the AG’s Department normally sanction lawyers for negligence. To this Madam Afriyie-Ansah answered in the affirmative.

She explained to the Sole Commissioner that delays on the part of Ministries in commenting on cases filed against them in courts to enable the AG take action sometimes led to default judgement debts.

Mr William Kpobi, Chief State Attorney in Kumasi, told the Commission that at the time of the incident, they were having only four State Attorneys; however, they are now having 19 of them.

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