The Upper East Regional Branch of the Legal Aid Commission (LAC) has put in place innovative service delivery to ensure the growing number of clients in the region receive full benefit of its services.
The commission being manned by only two Legal Aid lawyers serving in the region surmounted the resource challenges and increased the number of cases through innovations to help the courts to achieve justice.
M. Richard Adazabra , a Legal Aid Lawyer who spoke to the Ghana News Agency in an interview reiterated the inroads made in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) relating to families and land matters and underscored that over 50 cases were solved in 2022 through such interventions.
Speaking on the innovations LAC incorporated into their work, he said clients were empowered to go through court proceedings with or without the full presence of a Legal Aid lawyer during case hearings in court.
Adazabra said the LAC lawyers help clients to defend themselves, doing preparatory works to begin a writ of summons or origination processes for a client in court to continue to talk without the lawyer’s presence or with little support because “we cannot be everywhere all the time.
” We do not have the numbers and resources to appear in all cases in courts all the time, therefore we are creating more innovative avenues to help our clients” He indicated.
However, he said though they offer Legal Aid, their work must stand the test and scrutiny of a lawyer’s work in court and must give it all the attention as a paid lawyer would do.
Sharing some daily activities of the courts he noted that the Bolgatanga circuit court is always busy because the Bawku circuit court is not able to function due to the prevailing chieftaincy disputes.
This, Mr Adazabra said, has led to most cases from Bawku being transferred to the Bolgatanga Circuit Court which he described as a vibrant circuit court making the work of LAC difficult.
According to Mr Adazabra, with the full complement of panel members of the Family Tribunal in the region to assist the judge with maintenance cases, the Bolgatanga district court is helping reduce cases faster.
Responding to questions on why LAC is compelled by the court to take cases such as murder cases, man slaughter, causing of harm of accused person without counsel, he said Legal Aid ACT mandates it to aid anybody who cannot procure the services of a private lawyer, adding that if assessed to be a poor person, qualifies to receive Legal Aid services.
“No person accused of committing murder can be tried in the high court unless there is a lawyer representing the person, in fact without one, trial cannot go, and the person is remanded for a long time.“ He noted.