AG Spearheads Contract, Criminal Justice Acts Changes

Godfred Yeboah Dame


The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has spearheaded the cause for changes to Ghana’s Contracts Act and a reform to the current Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, which many find to be problematic.

The first, the Contracts Amendments Act, 2023 (Act 1114) now prohibits the payment of compound interest by the state in transactions entered into on its behalf by public officers.

The law has been passed by Parliament and assented to by President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Act, which seeks to make major changes in criminal trials in Ghana, has been approved by Cabinet and laid in Parliament.

Both the Contracts Amendment Act and Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Act were sponsored by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame.


Contracts Amendment Act

The bill, which was sponsored by Mr. Dame in 2023, was passed by Parliament in July 2023, but was presented to the President for his assent on March 5, 2024. The President assented to same on March 8, 2024.

Mr. Dame, in an interview, indicated that 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.

According to him, the amendment, which he described as ‘important’, was motivated by observations he made in various actions in which he defended the state in huge judgement 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.


Criminal and Other Offences Act

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, and on March 14, 2024, it 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.

It also makes 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.

It 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 Ghana, and bring it in line with practices in more advanced democracies like the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

He, therefore, 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.


BY Gibril Abdul Razak