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Digitise operations fully to improve law reporting: A-G tasks Council for Law Reporting

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Godfred Dame — Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice
Godfred Dame — Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice

The Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame, has urged the management of the Council for Law Reporting to digitise fully its law reporting operations to improve the speed of law reporting.

He said the Council for Law Reporting was at the heart of the training of law students and continued legal education of lawyers and judges in the country.

Besides, he said, by section 17 of NRCD 64, the Ghana Law Reports was designated as the official law reports of Ghana which might be cited in proceedings in the courts.

He, therefore, said a failure to embrace technology and digitise might imply extinction of the Ghana Law Reports, and other publications the council was authorised by law to engage.

“With the proliferation of rival law reports and the availability of same on the world wide web at the click of a button, there is an immediate need for your Council to go fully digital and improve the speed of law reporting,” he stated.

Swearing in the new governing board of the Council for Law Reporting in Accra last Friday, Mr Dame said “It is imperative to underscore the urgent necessity for the Council to bring its operations in tune with the demands of modernity.

“The rapidly evolving technological world implies that law reporting also ought to keep step with the dictates of the times. The tendency for the Ghana Law Reports to lag behind, in terms of time, must be a phenomenon of the past,” he said

The six-member board is chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Gabriel Pwamang. The other members are a representative from the office of the A-G, Ms Frederica Sala Hiasu; the former President of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr Anthony Forson Jr; a representative from the Ghana Publishing Company Limited, Mr Samuel Kusi Donkor.

The rest were a representative of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr Samuel Obeng Manteaw, and the Editor of the Ghana Law Reports, Mrs Margaret Awuku-Gyekye.

Eminent role
The A-G said currently professional services were rapidly changing, a reason the Council for Law Reporting had to adapt in response to the “disruption” forced on the Council by technology.

While informing the board that he and the Editor of the Ghana Law Reports had commenced discussions on how to ensure a complete digitisation of the operations of the Council, he urged the board to assist in making such an enterprise a reality.

He indicated that the common law jurisprudence of relying on binding decisions of superior courts of judicature as a guide for adjudication rendered the role of the Council for Law Reporting eminently important in the legal landscape of our country.

“In my respectful view, the work of the Council for Law Reporting is at the heart of the training of law students and continued legal education of lawyers and judges in this country.

“In spite of this eminent role of the Council in the legal life of the nation, the state of affairs of the Council is a sorry one,” he said.

Sorry state of affairs

Mr Dame was worried that the performance of the institution had, for years, been dogged by severe logistical, infrastructural and financial difficulties.

Since the premises on which it operated is in a complete state of dilapidation, he said the council lacked the funds required to prepare, publish and market the Ghana Law Reports and other publications it was mandated by law to do.

He, therefore, entreated the board to present to him a comprehensive assessment of what was required for a retooling of the Council for Law Reporting as a step to address the severe difficulties facing it.

Support

Speaking on behalf of the board, Mr Justice Pwamang, promised that the board would approach its work with the best of their knowledge, experience and skill to ensure the Council produced the highest standard of products.

He, therefore, called for support and cooperation from the A-G and the government such as the upgrading of the office block of the Council to help it achieve its objectives.

“We have plans to digitise our law reporting system for people to purchase or subscribe to law reports and to ensure that the high product that we produce become beneficial to the people,” he said.