ECOWAS Community Court sensitises lawyers and agents on Electronic Case

ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (CCJ) has sensitized and trained Lawyers and government agents from the English-speaking member States on its Electronic Case Management System (ECMS) 

The ECMS supports electronic filing of applications and other documents, electronic service, electronic management of cases, and a standardized workflow designed based on the Rules of Procedure and the Practice Directions of the ECOWAS Court, to automate the CCJ’s judicial processes. 

The system is designed in the three languages of the Community (English, French, and Portuguese) and has two main modules with web interfaces; the external user portal accessible to litigants and the internal interface strictly accessible to the judicial staff of the Court. 

Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice speaking at the sensitisation and training of Lawyers and government agents on the ECMS said that given its mandate, particularly in the protection of human rights, the Court had ensured that it operated in a manner that ensured fair, efficient, and cost-effective access to justice. 

The President said that within the framework of this objective, the Court had been making efforts to progressively automate and digitalize its processes.  

“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the imposition of protocols to limit physical meetings and gatherings, the Court accelerated its digitalization drive,” he said.  

The Court therefore adopted the 2020 Practice Directions on Electronic Case Management and Virtual Court Sessions to establish the legal framework for implementing technological solutions in its operations.  

He said that based on these practice directions, the Court introduced the following innovations, which were now permanent features of its operations. 

“This electronic service is deemed sufficient to meet the service requirements under the Protocol and Rules of the Court,” he added. 

The President said to facilitate electronic filing and service of documents, parties and their lawyers were required to ensure that every document filed with the Court included the email address and WhatsApp-enabled telephone number of the lawyer. 

Justice Amoako said Member States with cases before the Court were encouraged to appoint focal persons to electronically receive documents and notices.  

He said the Court had completed the first phase of deploying the ECMS and was commencing the second phase, which consisted of sensitizing and training lawyers from Member States on the use of the ECMS. 

The President said the ECMS was a testament to the Court’s commitment to continue modernizing and streamlining its judicial processes, to make the Court more accessible and efficient for all parties and stakeholders.  

He said it was designed to introduce more efficiency in the way we manage and process cases at the Court.  

Justice Amoako said consistent with the Rules of Procedure and Practice Directions of the Court, the ECMS supported the electronic filing of applications and documents, automatic electronic service, and the electronic management of all aspects of cases from filing through the delivery of judgment to post-judgment procedures and archiving of case files. 

The ECMS features two main modules with web interfaces, an external user portal for litigants and their lawyers and an internal interface for judges and judicial staff.  

The external portal is accessible 24/7, providing a secure and private platform for lawyers and agents to register, file, and serve documents on both new and existing cases.  

He said the deployment of the ECMS would facilitate real-time access to case information, court notifications, and hearing schedules.  

“Lawyers will be able to manage their profiles, upload documents, access case details, and virtually attend Court sessions from anywhere in the world,” he added.  

The President said this seamless access would not only expedite the judicial process but also enhance transparency, and accountability as well as reduce physical human interferences in the operations of the Court. 

Chief Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo said technology had allowed stakeholders to cut costs, be more efficient, and avoid unnecessary delays in administering justice. 

“The recent past of the horrors of Covid 19 has demonstrated not only the immense potential of digital tools and technologies but also the need for them,” she said.  

She said Ghana’s utilization of technology started with automation in 2004 though the journey had been slow and laborious. 

“We started to reach the tipping point from 2019, with digitalization through the introduction of an E-justice platform in this very law complex,” she said.  

Ms Diana Asonaba Dapaah, a Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice said Ghana would continue to abide by and remain committed to the values of the Court and the principles of international law, adding the country would work in concert with the Court to ensure its effective functioning for the benefit of the sub-region. 

She reaffirmed Ghana’s steadfast support for the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice by actively engaging in its operations and critical role in advancing human rights, regional integration, legal harmonization, the rule of law, and settling disputes within the ECOWAS community. 

She said the system would significantly reduce the costs and logistical challenges associated with traditional filing systems, especially the need for travel to the ECOWAS Court in Abuja. 

Source: GNA 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.