Hot: Parliament passes law to prohibit payment of compound interest by state.

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A law to prohibit the payment of compound interest by the state in transactions entered into on her behalf by public officers, has been passed by Parliament and assented to by the President.

The law, the contracts (Amendment) Act, 2023 (Act 1114), sponsored by the At­torney-General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame in 2023, was passed by Parliament in July, 2023 but was presented to the President for his assent only on March, 5, 2024, who duly assented to it March 8, 2024.

According to the Attor­ney-General, the law seeks to curb the inimical tendency on the part of public officers to enter into contracts with high rates of interest especially compound interest, which result in huge financial loss to the state.

This important amendment to the Contracts Act was motivated by observations he made in vari­ous actions in which he defended the state in huge judgment debt cases.

Most of the gargantuan claims against the state, he observed, were a result of the accumulation of compound interest which was usually levied and awarded by the courts. As a result of the latest amendment to the Contracts Act (Act 1114), public officers are prohibited from entering into a contract on behalf of the state in which the rate of interest is stipulated as compound interest.

In another development, a Bill known as the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amend­ment) Bill, also sponsored by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, has been laid in Par­liament. The bill was approved by Cabinet on February 2, 2024.

On Thursday, March 14, 2024, the bill was laid in Parliament by Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, underwent the first reading and was immediately referred to the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs to consider.

The bill introduces substantial

 reform of the criminal procedure laws of this country, with the ultimate objective of speeding up the adjudication of criminal cases.

The new measures proposed include scrapping trials on indict­ment except where the offence is punishable by death as enjoined under the Constitution or other substantive law, provision for tri­als to proceed where an accused person is not personally present in court and provision for day-to-day trial of all criminal cases except where same is impracti­cable.

The bill also restricts inter­locutory appeals to only after a determination by the trial court of a submission of no case and provides for examination of wit­nesses by video conferencing.

The bill also seeks to reform the jury trial system by reducing the list of exemptions from jury service, changing the composi­tion of the jury (by addition of alternate jurors) and many other matters.

The Attorney-General is optimistic that these measures will significantly modernise criminal justice administration in the country and bring it in line with practices in more advanced democracies like the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and called on members of the public, the Bar and all stakeholders interested in the administration of justice to throw their full weight behind the bill for its swift passage by Parliament into law.

Source: The Ghanaian Times

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