COVID-19: Stay home if your case in court is not critical – GBA to lawyers

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The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has drummed home the need for its members to strictly adhere to government’s directive to the effect that only critical court works are allowed to run in the wake of the partial lockdown in the country.

The directive is part of measures to as much as possible reduce congestions in the various public spaces including the courts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To this end, the association has directed members who only have critical engagements in court to produce their GBA membership biometric identification card as proof of their identity.

“Members of the Bar are also to take notice of the directives issued by the Minister of Information at the Press Briefing on 29th March 2020, to the effect that only critical court work is exempt. As proof of their identity, Members of the Association must produce the GBA’s biometric identification card,” the GBA said in a notice.

The GBA in the notice dated March 29, 2020, and signed by its National Secretary, (SGD) Yaw Acheampong Boafo also reminded members of the association not to lose sight of the separate guidelines issued by the Chief Justice and the Association some 10 days ago.

The Chief Justice in a statement dated Friday, March 20, 2020, following the disruption by the novel coronavirus issued some seven guidelines to members of the justice delivery system to enable them to dispense justice efficiently as there are no precedents to guide them.

The guidelines were as follows:
Judges and Magistrates should ensure that in Part-heard cases, only Lawyers, Parties and their witnesses are allowed in Court.

Judges and Magistrates should ensure that in other cases only Lawyers and parties are allowed in Court.

Only parties in a case with their Lawyers may enter the Courtroom when the specific case is called.

Judges and Magistrates should be flexible in granting adjournments during this period.

Judges and Magistrates should grant long adjournments in matters which do not require immediate resolution.

Registrars should bear these directives in mind in fixing dates to decongest the Courts.

These directives are supplemental to the directives issued on 16th March 2020.

In a separate statement the same day, the GBA also among other things urged lawyers in cases already laid before the court to get in touch with one another if they are desirous of adjournments.
“Where a matter is pending in a court, even if part-heard, counsel may agree on a date and inform the Registrar of the relevant court accordingly by correspondence. Lawyers may opt to take long adjournments within the term,” the statement entreated.


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