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All you Need to Know About the Judiciary System of Ghana

The chief justice of Ghana is the highest-ranking judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana. The chief justice is also the head of the Judiciary of Ghana and is responsible for its administration and supervision. In order of state precedence, the chief justice is the fourth highest official in Ghana

The current chief justice is Kwasi Anin-Yeboah. He succeeded Sophia Akuffo as the first male chief justice of Ghana in twelve years. Anin-Yeboah was sworn in as Chief Justice by President Akufo-Addo on 7 January 2020

History of the office of Chief Justice in Ghana

The Supreme Court Ordinance of 1876 ended the 10-year absence of a Supreme Court, establishing a Supreme Court of Judicature for the Gold Coast Colony. The court consisted of the chief justice and not more than four puisne judges.

 This led to the appointment of the first chief justice, Sir David Patrick Chalmers by the British colonial authorities in 1876.

The nature of the office of chief justice evolved with the years. The 1954 Gold Coast constitution provided for the chief justice to be appointed on the advice of the prime minister while other judges and judicial officers were appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.

Under the 1957 Ghana constitution, on the attainment of independence, the chief justice and all superior justices were appointed on the advice of the prime minister as the Judicial Service Commission was abolished.

Sir Kobina Arku Korsah became the first Ghanaian chief justice. Under the 1969 constitution, the chief justice was appointed by the president acting in consultation with the Council of State.

 The office has not changed much since the 1979 constitution though the court system underwent a lot of changes under various military governments between 1972 and 1993

Appointment System of Chief Justice of Ghana

The chief justice is appointed by the president of Ghana in consultation with the Council of State of Ghana and with the approval of the Parliament of Ghana.

A person qualified to be the chief justice of Ghana must be of a high moral character and have proven integrity,. S/he must have been a lawyer for at least fifteen years to have been eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court in the first place.

Where the office of the chief justice is vacant or the chief justice is incapacitated and unable to carry out his duties, the most senior of the justices of the Supreme Court is expected to act in his place until he is able to resume or a new substantive chief justice is appointed by the president.

The chief justice and any other justice of the superior courts may voluntarily retire on reaching the age of 60 years or stay on till the compulsory retiring age of 70 years

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Functions of the Chief Justice of Ghana

The functions of the chief justice includes but not limited to the following;

  • Administer the presidential oath and the vice-presidential oaths before parliament prior to both assuming their offices.
  • The chief justice is the chairman of the Judicial Council of Ghana. 
  •  The chief justice oversees the administration of the Court of Appeal of which he or she is the most senior member.
  • He or she is also a member and administrator of the High Court and the Regional Tribunals.
  • Administer the oath of allegiance and the judicial oath to all justices of the superior courts or designate someone to act in his stead
  • Chairman of the Rules of Court Committee which makes rules regulating the practice and procedure of all courts in Ghana.
  • To set up a tribunal to resolve grievances against the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
  • Convene and chair a tribunal to oversee proceedings relating to the removal of the president of Ghana from office.
  • Appoint judicial officers on the advice of the Judicial Council and subject to the approval of the president.

Past Chief justices of Ghana

Chief JusticeTime framePeriod
Sir Kobina Arku Korsah6 March 1957 – 1963Ghana – 1st Republic
J. Sarkodee-Addo1964 – 1966
Edward Akufo-Addo1966 – 1969military rule (1966-1969)
1969 – 19702nd Republic
Edmund Alexander Lanquaye Bannerman1970 -1972
Samuel Azu Crabbe1973 – 1977military rule
Fred Kwasi Apaloo1977 – 1986military rule (1977-1979)
3rd Republic (24 September 1979 – 31 December 1981)
military rule (31 December 1981 – 1986)
E. N. P. Sowah1986 – 1990military rule
Philip Edward Archer1991 – 1993military rule (1991-1993)
1993 – 19954th Republic
Isaac Kobina Abban1995 – 21 April 2001
Edward Kwame Wiredu2001 – 2003
George Kingsley Acquah4 July 2003 – 25 March 2007
Georgina Theodora Wood15 June 2007 – 8 June 2017
Sophia Akuffo19 June 2017 – 20 December 2019
Kwasi Anin-Yeboah7 January 2020 – to date