Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been urged to collaborate with the Office of the Attorney-General before undertaking any contract.
This would ensure that relevant provisions needed to protect the government against judgement debts in the future are included in such contracts.
Opening a one-day stakeholder sensitisation on the work of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, a Deputy Minister, Diana Asonaba Dapaah, said as the principal legal adviser to the government, ministries and government agencies must be proactive by involving the Attorney-General in any civil engagement to avoid the numerous cases that lead to judgement debts.
Organised by the ministry’s Client Service Charter, the sensitisation forms part of the ministry’s efforts to build the capacity of stakeholders on work processes as contained in the Service Charter.
It is also to help foster collaboration and improve service delivery to its stakeholders.
Representatives from MDAs, councils, commissions and civil society organisations participated in the programme.
The programme featured presentations on the functions of the civil division of the Office of the Attorney-General; efforts towards the prevention of judgment debt; functions of the public prosecution division; legislative drafting process among other relevant areas.
Ms Dapaah said although judgement debts were reduced, in some cases, getting evidence and relevant documents from ministries and agencies whose actions led to the civil cases was difficult, a situation which affected her outfit’s ability to defend the state effectively.
“The rule of this game is evidence, we do not produce, we do not manufacture evidence at the Office of the Attorney General and we need the collaborative efforts of our stakeholders who are the primary players when there is a civil matter to furnish us with witnesses and other documentary evidence to be able to defend the state effectively,” she added.
A Principal State Attorney at the Civil Division of the Office of the Attorney-General, Nancynetta Twumasi, mentioned poor record keeping, and unwillingness on the part of some MDAs as the bane of effective defence.
“We need active participation of the ministries to ensure effective defence,” she added.
Again, she noted that aside from not notifying the Attorney-General, some officers or directors of some MDAs went into agreements without recourse to the relevant sector minister.
She added that the Office of the Attorney-General was working on making it an offence for public officers who failed to assist the office in such instances.
Explaining why some cases delayed, a Principal State Attorney at the Public Prosecutions Division, Dufie Prempeh, said some of the cases were extremely complex, hence the need for her outfit to get ample time to prepare the docket on the cases.
She said for some of the microfinance cases, there were many witnesses involved, hence the state needed more time to gather its evidence before going to court.
Aside from the backlog of cases at the court, she also mentioned pre-trial motions and the unwillingness of some witnesses to testify as some of the issues affecting the expeditious determination of cases.