Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood has called on critics of the judiciary to be circumspect in the words they use in criticizing judgments given by the members of the bench.
According to the Chief Justice, although members of the legal academia can exercise their right to free expression, their words should be applied with the needed deference to the judges at the bench.
The call is coming in the wake of the criticism of the judgment in the Alfred Agbesi Woyome judgment debt case which has brought the judge who presided over the case, Justice John Ajet Nassam, under strong criticisms.
Ms Georgina Wood was speaking at the opening ceremony of the General Legal Council, Bar, Bench and Faculty Conference in Accra.
The Chief Justice, who chairs the General Legal Council, said the legal profession is currently at a crossroad where many factors are contributing to the public loss of confidence in the judicial system.
She said lately, judgments of judges have been criticized for lack of any depth of jurisprudence, ‘although not always.’ Justice Wood called for a radical turnaround in the judiciary that would help build an institution marked by the highest professional standards.
She also noted that although reforms had been introduced by past chief justices to help the judiciary better deliver on its mandate of promoting justice and the rule of law, institutional cultures and attitudinal tendencies remain somewhat resistant to change.
She said complaints of the unprofessional behaviour by some members of the legal profession and the slow pace of the administration of justice continue to undermine the work and the place of the judiciary in democratic governance.
‘Complaints of unprofessional behaviour from members of the legal profession and the equal slow pace of justice continue to undermine confidence in our work,’ she noted.
Chief Justice Wood also noted that very often legal academia had been mocked for being detached from reality and being overly critical but, ‘may I suggest to you dear colleagues that law and adjudication are inherently academic in character and the more scholarly our judgment, the higher its quality.’
She therefore urged her colleagues to re-access their use of scholarship in judgment writing and relationship with legal academia in general, in their work.
She said lawyers and law firms must also recognize the need to promote their own continued legal education.
‘Ours is a scholarly enterprise and the more sound our arguments, the better the quality of judicial outcomes and better develop the boundaries of our jurisprudence,’ she stressed.
BY Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
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