The Chief Justice (CJ), Justice KwasiAninYeboah, says it is critical for Justices of the Superior Courts of Ghana to be abreast of maritime laws in order to effectively handle cases relating to shipping, piracy and allied matters.
He said with pirate attacks being recorded in Ghana’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Guinea, issues of arrests of ships, judicial sale and distribution of proceeds would arise in adjudication.
“Therefore, my lords and lady justices would have to be well equipped to deal with them in a manner that would stimulate economic growth,” he said when he opened the 13th Maritime Law Seminar for Superior Court Justices in Accra, on Friday.
About 50 Justices of Superior Courts of Ghana attended the two-day event, organised by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) and the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) of Ghana to build their capacity on contemporary happenings in the industry.
They were taken through topics including piracy and terrorism; bills of lading and other documents in use in international trade, and arrest of ships, judicial sale and distribution of proceeds.
Justice Yeboah, expressing worry about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, said Ghana had since last year recorded nine cases in its territorial waters out of which six incidents took place last year.
He said three occurrences took place between January and June this year while the attacks were mainly on ships transporting bulk petroleum and its products and ships carrying exotic goods.
He acknowledged the recent call by President Nana Akufo-Addo for concerted efforts between West African leaders to deal with the growing threats as they can affect maritime trade.
Justice Yeboah said the shipping industry required all the attention it could get because it was the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation and trade.
He, therefore, commended stakeholders in the industry for ensuring that more than 80 per cent of global trade were kept resolute despite the disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GSA Chief Executive Officer, Benonita Bismarck, said the contribution of maritime trade to the country’s economic development was critical, and with advancements in the sector to enhance ease of doing business, deliberate efforts were being made to ensure that players in the sector had clarity on legal procedures both locally and globally.
While highlighting the success chalked by the introduction of the Integrated Customs Management System and Paperless Port Clearance System, she said Uncleared Cargo List and administration and management was a challenge to the shipping sector.
She said through the advocacy of the GSA, a committee had been set up by the Transport Ministry to resolve the issues including the uncleared consignments of state institutions which had been at the ports for about three years.
Ms Bismarck said the Authority was also working with other stakeholders to streamline charges at the ports and reduce the cost of shipping.
The JTI Acting Director, Justice Dennis Adjei, commended GSA for supporting the training of justices and appealed to the GSA to support some justices to pursue further courses in maritime law.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR
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