The “additional judge” concept revisited.
There are many procedures, processes and concepts that guide the administration of justice in most countries. The sources of these elements may be found in constitutions, statutes, legislative instruments and rules of procedure.

  1. A: Introduction
  2. There are many procedures, processes and concepts that guide the administration of justice in most countries. The sources of these elements may be found in constitutions, statutes, legislative instruments and rules of procedure. Some may also come about by way of convention and usage. The main aim of these elements is to assure a speedy, fair, cost-effective and transparent justice delivery system. One such element is the ‘additional judge’ concept. This is the practice where a judge of a Superior Court, say the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court, sits and tries a case at a lower trial court, for example, the High Court. Such a judge from the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court will be described as an ‘additional High Court judge’. This article discusses the additional judge concept and its antecedents.  The discussion will also touch on how additional judges have been used in the trial of some cases in the 4th Republic. Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s recent 3-2 majority decision in the Opuni case setting aside the 3-year old proceedings at the High Court presided over by a Supreme Court Justice sitting as an additional judge will be analyzed. Finally, the article will look at the issue of whether the additional judge concept has outlived its usefulness in Ghana’s constitutional democracy.
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  4. B: The ‘additional judge’ concept and its antecedents
  5. The concept of additional judge is not defined in the 1992 Constitution but it appears to be captured in article 139 (1) (c). The article permits a Chief Justice to write and request any Superior Court Justice to sit as a High Court judge for a given time[1]. It bears noting that, the 1960 Constitution had no such provision. The 1968 Proposed Constitution also had no such provision in the proposed article 112 that dealt with the composition of the High Court. Curiously, when the 1969 Constitution came into being, article 112 (1) contained a sub clause (c) that introduced a provision empowering a Chief Justice to request other Superior Court Judges in writing to sit as High Court Judges. 

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13 thoughts on “The “additional judge” concept revisited.

  1. This is an excellent piece by all standards. There is a lot to learn.
    The analysis on whether the additional judge concept outlived its usefulness is spot on. It demonstrates ingenuity, and experience in practice. I love this piece so much. Kudos

      1. A solid dissect and correlative solutions. The additional high court concept relative to the 4th Republic presents a lot more suspision and challenges than what it seeks to mitigate or solve. I doff my heart.

  2. A solid dissect and correlative solutions. The additional high court concept relative to the 4th Republic presents a lot more suspision and challenges than what it seeks to mitigate or solve. I doff my hat.

  3. So much learnt from this article!! Thanks so much..

    The Nigerian leaf.. it is not supported by any constitutional provisions right? Are you suggesting a constitutional amendment in Ghana then to remove the powers of the CJ to appoint CA and SC judges with additional responsibilities in the HC?

    Are there no good examples of this practice? Whereby the decisions of the judges stand the test of time and avoid unnecessary appeals?

    Great piece👏🏾

    1. Dear Hanifa, these are very pertinent questions you have asked. Thanks very much for enriching the discourse. I wish I could recall cases tried before additional judges that have stood ‘the test of time’. Most have been overturned on appeal; an example is the Kwabena Amaning @ Tagor Case. In Ex parte Opuni (No. 1), the Supreme Court held there was a real likelihood of bias and prohibited the additional judge. The fact is, if those cases had been handled by regular High Court judges and were overturned on appeal or by judicial review, no fuss would have been made. Awesome perspectives you shared, sis. Keep it up.

  4. But it is the case that the Judge in the Opuni case was appointed in to the SC in 2020, two years after the trial has commenced.

    1. Hello Samson, Thanks a lot for reading and for sharing your thoughts, too. Yes, it is true that the Judge was appointed from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court in 2020. So right from the inception of the case, he was an “additional High Court judge”. I believe Supreme Court Justices must handle cases at the Supreme Court and High Court judges must handle trials at the High Court. The judge himself has reportedly remarked that he wants to finish with the case quickly so he can attend to his duties at the Supreme Court. Many thanks once again, Samson.

  5. It is the case, though, that the Judge in the Opuni case was appointed to the SC in 2020, two years after the trial commenced.

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