Godfred Dame  — Attorney-Genera
Godfred Dame — Attorney-Genera
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President assents to contracts Bill - Act prohibits compound interest payable by state

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assented to law an Act of Parliament that prohibits the payment of compound interest by the state in transactions entered into by public officers on behalf of the state.

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The Contracts (Amendment) Act, 2023 (Act 1114), sponsored by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, in 2023, was passed by Parliament in July 2023, but was presented to the President for his assent only on March 5, 2024, Daily Graphic sources have disclosed.

The President assented to it on March 8, 2024.

The law seeks to eliminate the tendency of public officers entering into contracts that have high rates of interest, especially compound interest, which could result in a huge financial loss to the state.

The latest amendment to the Contracts Act (Act 1114), therefore, prohibits public officers from entering into contracts on behalf of the state in which the rate of interest is stipulated as compound interest.

Reacting to the President’s assent to the Bill, the Attorney-General said the amendment to the Contracts Act was motivated by observations he made in various actions in which he defended the state in huge judgment debt cases.

Most of the claims against the state, he said, were the result of the accumulation of compound interest usually levied and awarded by the courts.

In another development, the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Bill, also sponsored by the Attorney-General, has been laid in Parliament.

The bill is said to have received Cabinet approval on February 2, 2024.

On Thursday, March 14, 2024, it was laid in Parliament by the Attorney-General, and underwent the first reading before it was subsequently referred to the Committee on

Constitutional and Legal Affairs for consideration.

The bill introduces substantial reforms to the criminal procedure laws of the country, with the ultimate objective of speeding up the adjudication of criminal cases. 

New measures

New measures proposed in the bill include scrapping trials on indictment except where the offence is punishable by death as enjoined under the Constitution or other substantive law; provision for trials to proceed where an accused person is not personally present in court, and provision for day-to-day trial of all criminal cases except where same is impracticable.

The bill also restricts interlocutory appeals to only after a determination by the trial court of a submission of no case and provides for examination of witnesses by video conferencing.

It also seeks to reform the jury trial system by reducing the list of exemptions from jury service, changing the composition of the jury — through the addition of alternate jurors — and other matters.

Mr Dame said he was optimistic that those measures would modernise criminal justice administration in the country and bring it in line with practices in more advanced democracies such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

He called on members of the public, the Bar and other stakeholders interested in the administration of justice to throw their full weight behind the bill for its swift passage by Parliament into law.

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