Mr Justice Yaw Apau, Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt Commission, on Wednesday urged the media to desist from interpreting legal issues raised in the courts.
The Sole Commissioner was reacting to a publication in sections of the media, which referred to a judgement debt of over GH₵265, 000 paid by the state to Mr Peter Abbam as illegal.
Mr Apau said whenever a court awarded a cost, there could be nothing illegal about it unless that ruling was overturned by a higher court.
He reminded the media that it was only the superior court judges that are addressed as justices, however, for the lower courts; a magistrate is addressed as his worship.
He explained that in civil matters a court awards a cost, whereas, in criminal matters a person is fined.
Mr Kofi Dometi Sokpor, Counsel for the Commission advised the media to be on the safer side by reporting exactly what transpired in the courts and to leave the interpretation of legal issues to the lawyers to handle.
At the sitting on Wednesday, ten cases were called for hearing, with two persons making appearance; Mrs Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, Chief State Attorney representing the state, and Mr Kwame Amponsah Agati, a legal practitioner at the Kotomase Chambers, but his client, Mr Abbam could not make it to the sitting.
In the matter of payment of compensation by the state to Mr Abbam for the demolition of his fence wall and losing part of his land due to the rehabilitation of the Kanda Highway in 1994, Mr Agati said a section of the media sought to portray the court ruling as an illegality, which was not fair.
He recounted that his client started pursuing the matter with the late E. Allotey Mingles as his counsel, as far back as October 2001, before he took over in August 2003.
He said the Attorney General’s (AG) Department made an appearance in court, but failed to open a defence, declaring that all steps taken during the court proceedings were brought to the notice of the AG’s Department.
Mr Agati said due to the absence of State Attorneys during sittings, he applied for a default judgement and the court asked for the property to be valued, upon which Mr Abbam engaged the services of a Land Valuer and the report was submitted to the court.
He said because the state could not contest the recommendation of the Valuer, the court awarded a cost against the state.
Mr Agati said due to difficulties in getting the state to comply with the court ruling, they had to garnish the accounts of the Urban Roads Department at the Bank of Ghana, following which the state instituted a stay of execution process at the High court, which was dismissed and a cost of Five Million Old Cedis awarded against the state.
He said the state then proceeded to the Appeal Court and there too, the case was dismissed and another cost of Two Million Old Cedis was awarded against the state.
Mr Afriyie-Ansah presented a number of documents on judgement debts such as Calf International Cocoa, the payment of 151 million old Cedis to Florence Tamakloe and others, Yakubu Adams Kasule and others versus the AG.
Mr Apau explained that Calf International Cocoa won a judgement debt against the state for $70 million, but after the court's ruling, the AG’s Department and the Company entered into an out of court settlement, and the cost was reduced to $35 million.
He said after this, the state and the company failed to go back to the court for consent judgement, adding that, Parliament’s Public Account Committee questioned the Calf International Cocoa for non-payment of tax on the amount.
The Sole Commissioner said the Company was of the view that the tax component was part of the reduction and if the state wants the tax, then it should make good the payment of the full amount.
He said Calf International has since petitioned the Commission on the matter, however the files were destroyed during the fire outbreak at the Commission’s old premises, hence the need to ask the AG’s Department for another copy.
On the Yakubu Adams Kasule and others, Mr Apau said the Commission wanted to study the documents to find out how a criminal case was filed against Kasule and later on, Kasule suing the AG’s Department; and how the AG ended up resolving both cases out of court with the state paying compensation to Kasule.
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|