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ECOWAS Court To Review its Rukes of Procedure for Improved Efficiency and Effectiveness

A three-day judicial retreat of the ECOWAS Court of Justice on the theme Management before ECOWAS Court of Justice: Relationship between the Registry Department, the Chambers of the Honourable Judges and the Legal Research Departments, opened on 13th of November, 2023 in Nasarawa State, Nigeria.

In his welcome address, Hon Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the Court stressed the importance of the judicial retreat which is an annual activity of the Court, stating that it gives judges and key staff of the registry, legal research and support departments, an opportunity to “review the performance of the Court and proffer solutions to perceived gaps to ensure a more effective discharge of its mandate.”

He said that the retreat will focus on four issues specific to the Court namely: (i) special forms of proceedings, judgments of the Court and its execution; (ii) service of legal documents on the parties and their dispatch to the honourable judges; (iii) the role of the chief registrar, deputy registrar and other registrars in the case management process; and (iv) the role of the registry and legal research department in support of the judge rapporteur. 

Justice Asante also proposed the integration of the communication unit in the case management system workflow to enhance its reportage of cases and court sessions in order to keep the citizens informed about the activities of the Court. 

He equally applauded the recent recruitment of staff to strengthen the language services unit which in the past threatened the effective functioning of the Court that functions in three languages of the Community – English, French and Portuguese. 

“Through your individual and collective contributions, you will help realise the hopes and aspirations of its estimated 300 million citizens for their socio-economic wellbeing through the integration of the economies of its 15 Member States,” he added.

He reiterated that the judicial retreat will be devoted to addressing the identified key challenges and proffer recommendations with timelines for its implementation, aimed at strengthening the case-law of the Court and position it as a pacesetter among regional courts. 

On the objectives and expectations of the judicial retreat, the chief registrar, Dr Yaouza Ouro-Sama said that a periodic review of the Rules of Procedure of the Court is in accordance with Article 32 of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol on the Court.

He added that, “The output of this Judicial Retreat will have a far-reaching impact on the improved case management processes of the Court and the efficient collaboration between the chambers of the Honourable Judges, the Registry and the Legal Research Department”.

In the course of the retreat, the honourable judges will moderate different sessions during which some legal staff will make presentations on sub-themes under the key issues for discussion. 

Participants attending the judicial retreat include the honourable judges, the chief registrar, directors, heads of units and divisions, legal officers and support staff of the Court.