Overview of Civil Proceedings in the High Court of Ghana – Civil Law
Overview of Civil Proceedings in the High Court of Ghana
The High Court of Ghana is the sole competent court for all cases, especially civil proceedings in Ghana. Any civil case, regardless of the amount or complexity involved, can be brought in the High Court of Ghana. Civil proceedings are normally actions brought by an individual or company against another person, state or organization for the enforcement of a right or for the recovery of money or debts etc.
The rules which govern procedure in the High Court are the “High Court Rules (Civil Procedure Rule) 2004 (IC 47)”. This rule provides all the necessary steps to bring a case before the High Court of Ghana.
Under the rules, a person who initiates a civil proceeding is referred to as a “plaintiff” and the opposing party is referred to as a “defendant”.
ISSUANCE OF WRIT AND DECLARATION OF CLAIM
Civil proceedings in the High Court are commenced by the issuance or filing of a writ of summons. The writ of summons must state the nature of the claim, relief, or relief sought in the action.
When filing the writ of summons, the plaintiff must accompany it with a statement. The statement of claim is the document on which the claimant states or tells his story in a summarized form. The writ of summons and statement of claim are prepared by the plaintiff. It must be filed with the registry of the tribunal de grande instance and served on the defendant.
APPEARANCE FILING BY DEFENDANT
Upon service of the writ of summons and statement of claim on the defendant, the defendant is required to file a process called an “appearance” within eight (8) days from the date the process was served on him. The appearance may be filed by the defendant personally or by his court-appointed lawyer.
If the defendant does not appear within the prescribed time, at the request of the plaintiff, a judgment may be pronounced against the defendant.
DEFENSE FILING OR DEFENSE AND COUNTERCLAIM
After the filing of the appearance, the defendant is under the obligation to file a response to the claim of the plaintiff by a document called “declaration in defense” or “declaration in defense and counterclaim” within fourteen (14) days from of the date of filing of the appearance. .
The statement of defense contains the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s request. If the defendant does not file it within the time limit, at the request of the plaintiff, the court may enter judgment for the plaintiff.
RESPONSE TO DEFENSE OR DEFENSE AND COUNTER-CLAIM
Upon service of the Defense or Defense and Counterclaim, the Plaintiff may file an Answer to the Defense within seven (7) days from the date of service of the Defense. However, if the defendant has filed a defense and a counterclaim, the plaintiff is required to file a response to the counterclaim. If the plaintiff does not file a response, at the request of the defendant, the court may render judgment on the relief sought in the counterclaim against the plaintiff.
REQUEST FOR INSTRUCTIONS
When all of the above documents have been filed, within one month the plaintiff must file a document with the court entitled “Request for Directions” and serve copies on the parties involved.
The purpose of the request for trial is for the parties to appear before a court for the court to give further directions as to how the action will be conducted. After the request for instruction is filed and served on the parties, the case will be assigned to a court for the court to give further instructions on the case.
Typically, the court orders the parties to file their witness statement and other documents on which they intend to rely. Witness statements have replaced direct examination, where the witness will take the witness stand to tell their story.
Therefore, at this stage, the court normally orders the parties to file all of the respective witness statements of the witnesses on which they intend to rely. Thereafter, the court will adjourn it for a case management conference.
CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
At this point, the court will check whether all parties have complied with the court order. If the court is satisfied that the parties have filed their respective witness statements and all processes, then the court will set a date for the trial.
At the trial stage, evidence will be collected from the parties. The plaintiff or his witnesses will take the witness stand first. The applicant or their witnesses will then submit their witness statement for adoption by the court. After adoption of the witness statement, opposing counsel or the defendant will then have the opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiff or his witnesses.
When the claimant or their witnesses are exhausted, the claimant will terminate or close their case. Thereafter, the defendant and its witnesses will take turns taking the witness stand to file their respective witness statements. Similarly, when producing their witness statement, the defendant or his witnesses will then be cross-examined.
At the end of the trial, the court will ask the parties to file their respective written submissions in support of their case and adjourn it for the parties to return for a trial date. The court will then proceed to judgment on the date set for the judgment to close the case.
APPEAL AND EXECUTION
After judgment, the dissatisfied party has the option of either appealing the court’s decision or complying with the court’s decision.
If the dissatisfied party does not take immediate steps to appeal the court’s decision or comply with the court’s orders, the prevailing party may take legal action within the rules to enforce the court’s orders against the dissatisfied party. succumbs.
The above is a useful guide to civil procedures in Ghana. A person can bring a case in the High Court without a solicitor, however, due to the complexity of court proceedings, it is always advisable to retain a practicing solicitor to represent you in your civil proceedings.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.