Ghanaian News

Lawyers split over courts shift system

The Judicial Service is set to begin implementing a shift system which will allow some courts to sit in the evening as part of efforts to reduce the backlog of cases.

Dubbed the Court Shift System (CSS), the innovation, introduced by the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, will allow the selected courts to operate morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning session starting from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and afternoon session from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The CSS is scheduled to start from March 25 this year.

Four lawyers have, however, expressed divergent views on the Court Shift System.

The new system, intended to be piloted at specific courts from next Monday, received both praise and criticism from the prominent court users in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, with some calling for the implementation of other options to deal with the backlog of cases.

The courts selected for the CSS are the two High Courts at Adentan, the Amasaman High Court 1, the Circuit Court at Weija, the District Court at La, the District Court at Teshie, the two District Courts at Madina and the Nsawam High Court.

A circular to all courts, signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cyra Pamela Addo, and dated March 14, 2024, said the piloting of the court shift system was targeted at courts that had more than 600 cases pending.

The rationale, the circular said, was to reduce the backlog of cases to improve access to justice for people.

“The rationale for the Court Shift System stems from the fact that findings from a physical count of dockets undertaken in all courts nationwide demonstrated that a number of identified courts have huge caseloads, with some in excess of 600 pending cases.

“It is envisaged that the Court Shift System, when implemented, will reduce the backlog of cases in the specified courts, improve accessibility to justice for citizens by offering flexible court hours that accommodate diverse schedules, and enhance the overall effectiveness of the judicial system,” the circular said.

According to the circular, the CSS would be implemented by optimising the existing resources of the courts.

Backlog of cases
During an interaction with the media after the opening of a new Circuit Court at Atebubu in the Bono East Region in December last year, the Chief Justice hinted the implementation of the CSS on a pilot basis.

Justice Torkornoo lauded the government for constructing more than 100 new courts, which she said would increase access to justice.

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