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Specialised courts for maritime, oil and gas to be set up

lawTHE Judicial Service has announced plans to establish three specialised courts to handle legal disputes arising from the maritime business and the nascent oil and gas industry.

The courts are to be situated in Accra and Tema, both in the Greater Accra Region, and Takoradi in the Western Region.

Opening the ninth Maritime Law Seminar for Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature in Accra yesterday, the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, revealed that the establishment of the courts was a collaboration between the Judiciary and the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA).

The courts will be presided over by specially trained judges who have the requisite expertise and experience in maritime law.

She explained that the establishment of the specialised maritime courts had been necessitated by the exploration of oil and gas and the consistent rise in maritime trade in the country.

Strong relationship
The seminar is an annual initiative of the GSA,with the support of the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI) to, among other things, create awareness for members of the Bench and the Bar in maritime law,update them on developments in the field, as well as foster a strong relationship between the judiciary and stakeholders in maritime industry.

Justice Wood said the commercial exploration of oil and gas in the country’s territorial waters, coupled with the significant increase in international trade, had “brought to the fore the need for the establishment of admiralty courts to adjudicate the many maritime cases that would come before the courts.

“To this end, my office has entered into a two-year ;collaborative partnership with the GSA to sponsor three judges for post graduate specialisation in maritime law,” Justice Wood said.

According to her, the GSA had secured a sponsorship from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the first batch of the three beneficiary judges to undertake the course in Malta.

• Training courses
The Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, Dr Kofi Mbiah, later told the Daily Graphic that the initiative would not be limited to the three judges but would be extended to cover more judges.

“The idea is to equip our Judiciary with the necessary capacity and expertise so that when cases come for adjudication, the people involved would be confident of the outcome,” he said.

He, however, disagreed with the assertion that the initiative was long overdue, explaining that the setting up of courts of that nature was dependent on the volume of gcargo entering and leaving the country.

Source: Daily Graphic

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