She said as lawyers were officers of the court, building their capacity in that discipline would help improve the justice delivery system in the country.Opening the 12th Maritime Law seminar for judges of the Superior Court in Accra last Friday, the Chief Justice underscored the need for the capacity of both judges and other officers of the court to be developed, in the face of changing trends in the maritime industry.
The two-day seminar, which was instituted in 2004, was organised by the GSA, in collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute (JTI).
This year's seminar focused on two main topics — ocean governance and maritime trade.
Participants also toured the Tema Port and boarded a sea-going vessel to bring to the fore the peculiar nature of seaborne trade and transport and give them a practical perspective on the realities in the sector to help in executing court orders in the maritime industry.
"The world is changing at a rapid rate and traditional practices of merchants are assuming new trends. The advent of technology and increased globalisation have introduced new challenges, thereby triggering disputes that require new jurisprudence.
"To dispense commercial justice in today’s fast-paced world, a greater number of judges must appreciate the peculiar nature of the industry in which the disputes arise," the Chief Justice said.Maritime law
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, proposed that law faculties introduce courses in Maritime Law.
"I wish also to suggest that faculties of Law explore the possibility of introducing a course in Maritime Law as an elective subject as part of the curriculum of legal studies if that is not already the case.
"I am hopeful that by this deliberate effort, interest in Maritime Law could significantly be stimulated to provide a unique opportunity to address any existing gaps in the sector," she added.
Later in an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck, said the Ministry of Transport had already directed her office to include members of the GBA in the next edition of the seminar.
"I would like to commend the JTI for keeping faith with us all these years by effectively collaborating with us in the organisation of the seminar for judges," she said.
According to her, the strategic link between maritime trade and national economic development could not be overemphasised.
"A major chunk of Ghana's international trade cargo is carried by maritime transport, as is the practice globally. It is a major driver of our economy,” she said.
For his part, the Minister of Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, said the government remained committed to positioning Ghana as the preferred business destination in the West African sub-region, particularly in the shipping and logistics sector.
He said the maritime industry remained the main driver of intra and international trade, stimulating growth and social and economic development in the country.
He, however, observed that there were some criminal activities within the maritime space, saying: "Building on existing strengths and expertise has, therefore, been at the core of our interventions, where we also make effective use of available resources to address potential threats.”
"The growing threat and dynamism of the industry demands that we adopt a clear-cut response, hence the need to deepen understanding of and knowledge in maritime-related issues," he added.