Judicial service justifies increased legal fees

A Justice at the Court of Appeal, Justice Dennis Adjei, has justified the new court filing fees saying those who cannot afford can opt for legal aid services.

But the Acting President of the Young Lawyers Forum-Ghana, Rockson-Nelson Defeamekpor, insists the new fees will negatively affect pro bono services.

The upward adjustment of the filing fees took effect from March,2, 2015, with legal practitioners questioning the extent of the increase. Justice Dennis Adjei said there was due diligence in applying the rules of court committee to arrive at the new fee.

“We looked at the economic realities on the ground to fix the filing fees. The factors they took into consideration included access to justice, ability to pay amongst others. And this were based on reliable statistics and facts on the ground”

Justice Dennis Adjei indicated that the rules of the court committee had been working for two years before pegging the new fee.

“It wasn’t something which started just a month ago and was implemented. It took them quite some time to deliberate and come out with a reasonable amount. It is in full force like any other law so the rules of court committee cannot even sit here alone to say that we are revising it. It must go back to Parliament” he noted.

According to him, the Legal Aid Board is for those who can’t afford but Lawyer Rockson-Nelson Defeamekpor argues that pro bono services will be affected.

“You paid only ten pesewas when you tender each document that you relied on to prove your case. But because of CI 86 now we are paying Ghc10. It certainly will affect the number of cases they can handle, the effectiveness with which they can handle those cases and largely affect the access of our courts for justice”

A member of the Constitutional and Legal Committee of Parliament, George Loh, was of a contrary view. He believes the new fees will help streamline cases sent to court . He noted that Ghana’s court filing fees was still the cheapest despite the increase.

“It has been brought to Parliament and they defended it before the appropriate committee. They feel that the services their offering is no longer proportionate to the fees they were charging. I can conveniently say that in Ghana we have one of the cheapest regimes in terms of legal services. I am also of the view that if you make legal services so cheap, people go to court for frivolous things”.

Lawyer Rockson-Nelson Defeamekpor noted that the increment wasn’t the issue but the quantum. He says they will push for a downward review of the fees.

Source : tv3network.com