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COURTS ACT

ACT 459 ( 1993)

        

PART II-LOWER COURTS AND TRIBUNALS

(Substituted by ACT 620 s. 5)

 

39. The following are by this Act established as the Lower Courts and Tribunals of Ghana-

(a)      Circuit Court and Circuit Tribunal;

 

(b)      Community Tribunal;

 

(c)      the National House of chiefs, Regional Houses of chiefs

and every Traditional Council, in respect of the jurisdiction of any

such House or Council to    adjudicate over any cause or matter

        affecting chieftaincy; and

 

(e)  such other lower courts or tribunals as Parliament may by law

 establish.

 

 

 

Sub-Part I - Circuit Court and Circuit Tribunal

 

40.  (I) There shall be established in each region of Ghana such Circuit

Courts as the Chief Justice may by legislative instrument specify.

      (2)          An instrument issued under subsection (1) of this section shall specify the area of jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.

      (3)          There shall be assigned for each Circuit Court established under this Act a Judge who shall be appointed, subject to the approval of the President, by the Chief Justice acting on the advice of the Judicial Council.

      (4)          A person shall not be appointed a Circuit Judge unless he is of high moral character and proven integrity and is of not less than five years standing as a lawyer.

 (5) Each Circuit Court Judge shall exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon him by this Act or any other enactment for the time being in force in respect of causes and matters arising within his area of jurisdiction.

      (6)          A Circuit Court shall hold its sittings at such places and times as the Chief Justice may direct.

      (7)          Subject to any direction of the Chief Justice, the sittings of a Circuit Court shall be held at such places and times as the Circuit Court Judge may think fit.

      (8)          Without prejudice to subsection (3) of this section, the Chief Justice, any Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature or a Chairman of a Circuit Tribunal nominated by the Chief Justice may sit as a Circuit Court Judge.

 

41  .(I) The jurisdiction of a Circuit Court shall consist of the following-

             (a)          Original jurisdiction in civil matters-

 

(i)   in all personal actions arising under contract or tort or for the recovery of any liquidated sum, where the amount claimed is not more than 10,000,000.00;

 

(ii)  in all actions between landlord and tenant for the possession of land claimed under lease and refused to be delivered up;

 

(iii)  in all causes and matters involving the ownership, possession, occupation of or title to land; (iv) to appoint guardians of infants and to make orders for the custody of infants;

 

(iv)      to grant in any action instituted in the Court, injunctions or orders to stay waste, or alienation or for the detention and preservation of property the subject matter of that action or to restrain breaches of contract or the commission of any tort;

 

(v)       in all claims for relief by way of interpleader in respect of land or other property attached in execution of a decree made by a Circuit Court;

 

(vi)         (vii) in applications for the grant of probate or letters of administration in respect of the estate of a deceased person, and in causes and matters relating to succession to property of a deceased person, who had at the time of his death a fixed place of abode within the area of jurisdiction of the Court and the value of the estate or property in question does not exceed 1 0,000,000.00; and

(b)     any other jurisdiction conferred by this Act or any other enactment.

   

(2) Where there is a dispute as to whether or not any amount claimed or the value of any land or property in any action, cause or matter is in excess of the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section in relation to that action, cause or matter, the in question shall call evidence as to the said amount or value and if it finds that it exceeds the amount or value specified in subsection (1) it shall transfer the case to the High Court.

(3)          Where the amount claimed or the value of any land or property exceeds the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section the Circuit Court shall, notwithstanding that subsection, proceed to hear the case if the parties agree that it should do so.

(4)      The Chief Justice may by legislative instrument increase or reduce the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section.

42.     A person aggrieved by a decision or order of a Circuit Court may, subject to the provisions of this Act and rules of court, appeal to the Court f of Appeal.

 

43.     (1) There shall be established in each region of Ghana such Circuit Tribunals as the Chief Justice may by legislative instrument specify.

          (2)          An instrument issued under subsection (1) of this section shall specify the area of jurisdiction of the Circuit Tribunal which shall be the

same as the area of jurisdiction of the corresponding Circuit Court in the

region.

 

        (3) A Circuit Tribunal shall be duly constituted by a panel consisting of a Chairman and not less than two or more than four 'other members.

        (4) A person shall not be appointed to be a Chairman of a Circuit Tribunal unless he is qualified to be appointed a Circuit Court Judge.

        (5) A Chairman of a Circuit Tribunal shall be appointed, subject to the approval of the President, by the Chief Justice on the advice of the Judicial Council.

        (6)          Panel members of Circuit Tribunal shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, acting in consultation with the relevant Regional Coordinating Council and on the advice of the Judicial Council.

        (7)          Panel members of a Circuit Tribunal shall be persons of high moral character and proven integrity who are resident within the area of jurisdiction of the Circuit Tribunal.

        (8)          Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Judicial Council shall determine the qualifications, tenure of office and other conditions of service of panel members of Circuit Tribunal.

(9)A Circuit Tribunal shall hold its sittings at such places and times as the Chief Justice may direct.

(IO) Subject to the directions of the Chief Justice the sittings of a Circuit Tribunal shall be held at such places and times as the Chairman of the Tribunal may determine.

(I 1) The Chief Justice, or other Justice of the Superior Courts or a judge of the Circuit Court nominated by the Chief Justice may sit as Chairman of a Circuit Tribunal.

Amendment see Act 464 

(shall in addition to its jurisdiction in civil matters have Court. and exercise the jurisdiction in criminal matters conferred on the Circuit Tribunal under section 44 (1) and (2) of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459).

44.     (1) Subject to subsection (2) of this section a Circuit Tribunal shall within the area of its jurisdiction have originals jurisdiction in all criminal matters arising within their jurisdiction.

 

(2)          A Circuit Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to try-

 

(a)          the offence of treason or murder; or

(b)          an offence declared by any enactment to be first

          degree felony; or

(c)          an offence punishable by death or by life imprisonment.

 

(3)      A Circuit Tribunal does not have jurisdiction in any civil cause or matter.

 

(4) A Circuit Tribunal shall try all cases before it summarily and for that purpose, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code 1960 (Act 30), the Evidence Decree 1975 (NRCD 323) and any rules of court applicable to summary trial of offences by a Circuit Court in existence immediately before the coming into force oft his Act shall apply to trial of criminal cases by Circuit Tribunals.

 

 

(5)A Circuit Tribunal shall in the exercise of its jurisdiction under this Act have and exercise all the powers of a Circuit Court in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act in criminal matters.

 

45.       (I) The determination of any question before a Circuit Tribunal in the exercise of its jurisdiction shall be in accordance with the opinion of the majority of the members hearing the case.

(2)          Where the majority does not include the Chairman and the accused is convicted, the accused shall, where he gives notice to appeal against the decision, be granted bail by the Tribunal subject to such conditions as the Tribunal may determine.

(3)          The prosecution or a person convicted of an offence by a Circuit, Tribunal may appeal to the Regional Tribunal on a question of law or fact against the acquittal, conviction or sentence other than a sentence fixed by law) or against any order made by the Circuit Tribunal in respect of the trial.

 

 

(4)          For the purpose of subsection (3), an order requiring a person to enter into a recognisance is a conviction.

 

 

 

SUB-PART II- COMMUNITY TRIBUNALS

 

46.(1) There shall be in each District of Ghana such Community Tribunals as the Chief Justice shall by legislative instrument determine.

 (2  A Community Tribunal shall be duly constituted by a panel consisting of a Chairman and not less than two or more than four other members.

 (3) A person shall not be appointed to be a Chairman of a Community Tribunal unless he is of high moral character and proven integrity and shall be preferably a lawyer of not less than three years standing or a person with such judicial or legal  experience as the Chief Justice shall on the advice of the Judicial Council determine.

(4)          A Chairman of a Community Tribunal shall be appointed subject to the approval of the President, by the Chief Justice on the advice

of the Judicial Council.

(5)          Panel members of a Community Tribunal shall be appointed by the Chief Justice acting in consultation with the relevant District Assembly and on the advice of the Judicial Council.

(6)          Members of a Community Tribunal shall be persons of high moral character and proven integrity who are resident in the area of the jurisdiction of the Community Tribunal.

(7)          Traditional rulers in the Districts shall whenever possible be appointed          to serve as panel members on Community Tribunals.

(8)          Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Judicial Council shall determine the qualifications, tenure of office and other conditions of service of panel members of Community Tribunals other than the Chairman.

(9)          Without prejudice to any provision in this section, the Chief Justice, any judge of the Superior Court of Judicature, a Chairman of a Regional or Circuit Tribunal or a Circuit Court judge may on the direction of the Chief Justice sit as a Chairman of a Community Tribunal.

(I0) Sittings of a Community Tribunal shall be held at such places and times as the Chief Justice may direct.

(I1) Subject to any such directions, the sittings may be held at such

places          and times as the Chairman thinks proper.

47.     (1) A Community Tribunal shall within the area of its jurisdiction

 have civil jurisdiction in the following cases-

(a)          in all personal actions arising under contract or tort for the

recovery of any liquidated sum where the amount claimed does not exceed C5,000,000.00;

(b)          to grant in any action in stituted in the Community Tribunal, injunctions or orders to stay waste or alienation or for the detention and preservation of any property the subject matter of that action, or restrain breaches of contracts or the commission of any tort;

(c)          in all claims for relief by way of interpleader in respect of land or other property attached in execution of a decree made by the Community Tribunal;

(d)          in all civil causes or matters relating to the landlord and tenant of any premises or any person interested in such premises as required or authorised by any law relating to land or and tenant;

(e)          in actions relating to ownership ,possession or occupation

of land where the value of the land does not exceed C5,000,000.00;

in divorce and other matrimonial causes or matters and actions for paternity and custody of children where the law applicable is exclusively customary law; and

(g)          in applications for the grant of probate or letters of administration in respect of the estate of a deceased person, and in causes and matters relating to succession to property of a deceased person, who had at the time of his death a fixed place of abode within the area of jurisdiction of the Community Tribunal and the value of the estate or property in question does not excee 05,000,000,.00;

(h)          hear and determine charges and dispose of other matters affecting juveniles that is persons under the age of seventeen.

   

(2)          A Community Tribunal shall also have jurisdiction to hear and determine any action arising under the Maintenance of children's Decree 1977 (SMCD 133) and shall for purposes of that enactment be the Family Tribunal and exercise all the powers conferred on the Family Tribunal under that enactment.

(3)          Where a Community Tribunal sits as a Family Tribunal or as a Juvenile Court, the panel of the Community Tribunal shall include a Social Welfare Officer appointed by the Chief Justice on the recommendation of the Director of Social Welfare.

(4)          A Community Tribunal shall have and exercise jurisdiction and power conferred on District Courts Grades I and 11 in both civil and criminal matters under any other enactment in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act.

(5)          Where there is dispute as to whether or not any amount claimed or the value of any land or property in any action, cause or matter is in excess of the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section in relation to that action, cause or matter the Community Tribunal in question shall call evidence as to the said amount or value and if it finds that it exceeds the amount or value specified in subsection (1) it shall, subject to the powers of transfer of the Chief Justice, transfer the case in a civil matter to a Circuit Court or in a criminal matter to a Circuit Tribunal.

(6)          Where in any action, cause or matter the amount claimed or the value of any land or property exceeds the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section, the Community Tribunal shall notwithstanding that subsection, proceed to hear the case if the parties agree that it should do so.

(7)          The Chief Justice may by legislative instrument increase or reduce the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section.

48. (1) In criminal matters a community Tribunal has jurisdiction to try summarily-

(a)      an offence punishable by a fine not exceeding 0200,000.00

or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years;

(b)      any other offence (except an offence punishable by death or by imprisonment for life or an offence declared by any enactment to be a first degree felony) if the Attorney General is of the opinion that having regard to the nature of the offence, the absence of circumstances which would render the offence of a grave or serious character and all other circumstances of the case, the case is suitable to be tried summarily;

(c)      an attempt to commit an offence to which paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection applies;

(d)      abetment of or conspiracy in respect of any such offence.

 

(2)          Subject to the other provisions of this section, a Community Tribunal shall in the exercise of its jurisdiction in criminal matters not impose a term of imprisonment exceeding two years or a fine exceeding 0200,000.00 or both.

 

(3)          A Community Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to try an offence under paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (1) of this section where the enactment creating  the offence has prescribed in relation to the offence a minimum penalty that exceeds the penalty permitted to be imposed by a Community Tribunal under subsection (2) of this section.

(4)          Where under any enactment increased punishment may be imposed upon any person previously convicted of a crime, a Community Tribunal may impose such increased punishment, or twice the maximum punishment prescribed by subsection (2) whichever is the lesser.

(5)          The Chief Justice may by legislative instrument increase or reduce the amount or value specified in subsection (1) of this section.

(6)          A Community Tribunal shall also have jurisdiction to try juvenile offenders and shall for that purpose exercise all the powers and functions of the Juvenile Court in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act.

 

49.     Until provision is, made by rules of court and subject to the provisions of this sub-part, the rules and procedure applicable to the District Court Grade I immediately before the coming into force of this Act in criminal trials and civil action shall with such modifications as are necessary apply to a community Tribunal in the exercise of its jurisdiction under this Act.

 

50.     (1) The determination of any question before a community Tribunal in the exercise of its jurisdiction shall be in accordance with the opinion of the majority of the members hearing the case.

(2)          Where the majority does not include the Chairman and in a criminal trial the accused is convicted, the accused shall, where he gives notice to appeal against the decision, be granted bail by the Tribunal subject to such conditions as the Tribunal may determine.

 

(3)          The prosecution or a person convicted of an offence by a Community Tribunal may appeal to the Regional Tribunal in the region on a question of law or fact against the acquittal, conviction or sentence (other than a sentence fixed by law) or against any order made by the Community Tribunal in respect of the trial.

 

(4)          For the purpose of subsection (3), an order requiring a person to enter into a recognisance is a conviction.

(5)          A person aggrieved by a judgment, decision or order of a Community Tribunal in a civil cause or matter may appeal to the High Court against the judgment, decision or order.

 

    51. (1) Every Community Tribunal shall in addition to any jurisdiction conferred by this Act, have such other functions as may be conferred or imposed on it by any other enactment.

 

(2)          Every Chairman of a Community Tribunal may administer oaths, take solemn affirmations and declarations, make such decrees and orders, issue such process and exercise such powers, judicial and ministerial in relation to the administration of justice as are prescribed by any enactment, rules of court, or special order of the Tribunal.

          (3)    A  writ of summons for the commencement of any action in the High Court or a Circuit may, without prejudice to any power conferred on the High Court or a    by any other provision of this Act or rules of court, be filed with any, Community Tribunal and it shall be the duty of the Tribunal with which the writ is filed to transmit the writ immediately to the High Court or Circuit Court at which the action in respect of which the writ is filed is to be determined.

(4)          No act done by or under the authority of a Chairman of a Community Tribunal shall be void or impeachable by reason only that the act was done, or that any act, offence, or matter in respect of or in relation to which the act was done, occurred beyond the limits of the district or area for which the Community Tribunal was appointed.

 

(5)          Where in any proceedings before, a Community Tribunal the defendant raises an objection to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal which ,might but for this section have been valid, then if-

(a) in a civil case, the objection is raised at a time ,before the plaintiff calls his first witness in support of hi! claim; or

 

(b) in a criminal case, the objection is raised at or before the time when the defendant is required to plead to the charge,

the Tribunal shall consider the objection, and if it appears to it that there is prima facie proof of the objection, it shall, in a civil case report the matter to the High Court and in a criminal case report it to the Regional Tribunal who shall as the case may be direct where the matter shall be heard and determined.

 

(6)      Every  Community Tribunal shall, when required by a court, execute any order or process issuing from that court and shall take security from any m person named in the order or process for his appearance in the court and shall, in default send the person to the place name in the order or process.

 

52. (1) At the end of every month, every Chairman of a Community Tribunal shall forward to the Regional Tribunal for the time being exercising jurisdiction over the district, a complete list of all criminal cases decided by or brought before the Tribunal during that month, sitting out the name of the accused, the offence with which he was charged, and the date of conviction and the sentence, or of acquittal or discharge, as the case may be, and in every case the order of the Tribunal in full.

      (2) Upon receipt of the list referred to in subsection (1) of this section the Regional Tribunal may, if it thinks fit, call for a copy of the record of any case included in the list and, either without seeing the record or after seeing it, and either without hearing argument or after hearing argument, may -

 

 

(a) subject to any enactment fixing a minimum penalty vary

the sentence or impose such other sentence warranted in law by the verdict which the Community Tribunal could have imposed in substitution for the sentence imposed as the Regional Tribunal thinks ought to have been imposed; or

(b) subject to any enactment requiring a particular order to be made, set aside an order or modify an order in such form as the Regional Tribunal thinks fit; or

(c) set aside the conviction, in which case the person if under detention shall be immediately released from detention, and any fine already paid shall be refunded to the person fined, and any security given shall be released; or

(d) set aside the acquittal, record a conviction and impose any sentence which the Community Tribunal could have imposed; or

(e) set aside the conviction or acquittal and order a new trial

or a preliminary enquiry before the Community Tribunal which made the conviction or acquittal or before any other Community Tribunal; or

(f) order further evidence to be taken either generally or on

some particular point by the Community Tribunal which passed the sentence or which ordered the acquittal and order in the meantime any person who has been convicted and imprisoned to be released on bail or on his own recognisance; and

(g) make such other order as interest of justice may require, and give all necessary and consequential directions.

   (3)          Upon the receipt of the list referred to in sub-section  (1) of this section, if the Regional Tribunal is of the view that a conviction for another offence ought to have been imposed or that the accused was guilty of the act charged, but was insane so as not to be responsible for his action at the time when he did the act, the Regional Tribunal shall set aside the conviction and send back the case for rehearing by the appropriate Community Tribunal subject to such directions as the regional Tribunal may think fit and it shall further inform the prosecution and the defence that it has so directed.

 

   (4)          When a person convicted has appealed against the conviction, or has applied for a case to be stated by the Community Tribunal under subsection (6) of section I 00 of this Act, the Regional Tribunal shall not exercise jurisdiction under this section in relation to the case to which the appeal or application relates.

 

    (5)          When action on the list as provided in subsection (1) is complete, or if the Regional Tribunal decides to take no such action, the Regional Tribunal shall direct that the list be filed; but the direction shall not have the effect of preventing the Regional Tribunal from subsequently taking any action prescribed in that subsection if it thinks fit.

 

     (6)          Three months after the last day of the month to which the list relates the Regional Tribunal shall become functus officio in respect to fall cases on the list in respect of which no action has been taken.

 

    (7)          Proceedings under this section may be taken by the Regional Tribunal on its own motion or on the petition of any person interested in praying for the exercise of the revisional powers of the Tribunal and the powers may be exercised notwithstanding that the monthly list has not

been transmitted to or received by the Regional Tribunal.

 

53.     (1) Members of every Community Tribunal shall be subject to the orders and directions of the High Court and Regional Tribunal as any other officer of the Court.

 

(2) The Judge of the High Court for the time being exercising jurisdiction over the District may, whenever he thinks fit, require the Chairman of Community Tribunal to render to the Court in such form as the Court directs a  report of any civil cause or matter which may be brought before the Tribunal.

 

 

 

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