President Nana Akufo-Addo has nominated Gertrude Araba Esabaa Torkornoo, a Justice of the Supreme Court, as the next Chief Justice of Ghana.
She replaces Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, who retires as Chief Justice on May 24, 2023, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 for justices of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Below is the full profile of Justice Torkornoo
Full name: JUSTICE GERTRUDE ARABA ESAABA SACKEY TORKORNOO
Supreme Court, Judicial Service of Ghana
Date of Birth – 11th September 1962.
Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo (Mrs ) joined the Judicial Service in 2004 as one of the first Justices of the Commercial Division of the High Court. She has been active in the core reform agenda and activities of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana (JSG) since 2005.
The organs through which these reforms have been implemented have included the specialized divisions of the High Court, the Judicial Training Institute, administrative committees set up to ensure the implementation of the automation and digitalization of court work and administration of JSG, the streamlining of alternative dispute settlement mechanisms in justice delivery, and communication channels between the Judiciary and its stakeholders.
The leadership roles Justice Sackey Torkornoo has played in ensuring the achievement of judicial reforms include being vice chair of the E-Justice Oversight and Implementation Committee (E-Justice OC) from its inception in 2019 and chair of the E-Justice OC since August 2021.
She has served as a member of the faculty and Governing Board of the Judicial Training Institute, vice chair of the Internship and Clerkship Committee of the Judiciary since 2012, Supervising Judge of the Commercial Division of the High Court since 2013, member and chair of the E-Judgment Committee since 2010, member and chair of the Publications and Editorial Committee of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana since 2006, and member and chair of various ad-hoc committees needed for the smooth administration of the work of JSG.
Justice Sackey Torkornoo has served as a judicial leader in the development and oversight of several reform projects of the Judiciary involving the European Union, USAID, DFID, and collaborations with other African countries. She has also been a member of the Law Reform Commission since 2016.
E-JUSTICE Oversight and Implementation Committee
The leadership requirements of this Committee include liaising with all external stakeholders in the provision and sustainability of the infrastructure of the E-Justice, setting up and overseeing the activities of all staff, Judges and committees involved in managing the infrastructure, ensuring cultural change from the use of manual systems to operating in the virtual realm and planning for the progressive achievement of electronic justice delivery nationwide.
Currently, her work as chair of E-Justice includes ensuring the streamlining into efficiency, the use of the Ghana Case Tracking system commenced as part of the Security Governance Initiative implemented by the Judicial Service of Ghana, Ghana Police Service, Economic and Organised Crimes Office, Ghana Prisons Service, National Signals Bureau, and Ministry of Justice and Office of the Attorney General. This work is being supervised by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization.
The E-Justice Oversight Committee has also conducted a close examination of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules CI 47, the District Court Civil Procedure Rules CI 59, and the Criminal and Other Offences Act Act 29 to ensure that all rules that govern judicial proceedings allow for easy implementation of E-Justice. The outcomes of that work will be presented to both the Rules of Court Committee for statutory reforms, and to the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization for incorporation into the scope of works for the next phase of E-Justice deployment.
Supervision of the Commercial Division of High Court
As Supervising Judge of commercial courts since 2013, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has set the agenda for and chaired the meetings and programs of the Users Committee of the Commercial Courts. She has quietly ensured the sustenance of a keen culture of efficiency in the commercial division of the High Court nationwide through leadership initiatives such as ‘brown bag learning sessions’ for Judges of the court, consistent meetings with staff and leadership of the court, engagements with external service operators such as process servers, valuers, auctioneers and the Users Committee of the court and presentation of policy briefs to Chief Justices on needed reforms in commercial justice delivery as well as the administrative needs of the court.
Justice Sackey Torkornoo presided over the implementation of the Business Environment Engineering Project (BEEP) funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom.
Her leadership directions in that project ignited and provided the Ministry of Trade and Industry with guidance on the introduction of Users Committees into other institutions that participated in the BEEP project. The BEEP project further influenced the active development of the Business Environment Reforms being streamlined into national institutions by the MOTI.
She serves as chair of the Technical Working Group on ‘Enforcing Contracts’ set up to steer change in the business law environment. Outcomes of the work of the BEEP project within the Judiciary included the design of necessary reforms in the monitoring and evaluation of data collection currently being implemented by the Judiciary, the design of necessary reforms in the post-judgment and execution part of justice delivery, and reforms in streamlining of ADR in commercial justice delivery in Circuit and High Courts that led to the passage of High Court (Civil Procedure) Amendment Rules 2020, CI 133.
As part of the faculty of the Judicial Training Institute since 2005 and a board member of the JTI since 2018, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has actively participated in initiatives to enhance the learning of Judges through awareness of distinctions between judicial skills, the social context of judicial work and core black letter law. This work has included being a trainer of trainers, the development of a curriculum for teaching Judicial Ethics, a manual for training in Judicial Ethics, and the lacing of applications of ethical principles into the daily routines of Judges. Through being a constant trainer in Judicial Ethics, she has worked to motivate Judges to aspire to excellence through the development of research and writing skills, case and courtroom management, as well as the application of judicial ethics in their work and private lives.
After assuming the chair of the Editorial Committee for the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana in 2009, Justice Sackey Torkornoo led the publication of an annual magazine for Judges, ensuring that issues pertinent to the development of competence in the judicial career and the discharge of the Judiciary’s constitutional mandate were brought to the fore in this magazine. She has also chaired the E-Judgment Committee responsible for developing electronic research resources for Judges since 2012 and has achieved the current creation of an e-judgment research resource with key-word search-ability properties for Judges.
In her work as vice chair of the Internship and Clerkship Program, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has actively participated in the smooth administration of the internship and clerkship program run jointly with law faculties, law firms, the Judiciary, the Ghana Bar Association and the Ghana School of Law since 2012.
In 2010, Justice Sackey Torkornoo became the first awardee of a scholarship by the International Association of Women Judges, after a global selection process. She undertook and excelled in an LLM in Intellectual Property, International Law and Internet Law at the Golden Gate University, San Francisco where her thesis on reforming Ghana’s Copyright Law relating to Folklore and Art was published as the lead article in the University’s Annual Survey on Comparative and International Law.
In 2015, she was awarded the Women of Excellence Award in Judicial Integrity under the auspices of Ministry for Gender, Child and Social Protection.
In 2016, she was made a Fellow of the Ghana Institute of Construction.
While not compromising on the quality of her courtroom work and judgment writing, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has become noted for excellence in administrative leadership, continuing study, teaching, writing, and the judicial ethics of competence, diligence and integrity. She has served under and worked closely with four Chief Justices namely Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah (decd), Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood (Rtd), Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo (Rtd) and Chief Justice Anin Yeboah.
She was promoted to the Court of Appeal in October 2012 and to the Supreme Court in December 2019.
Dec 2019 – date: Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, with responsibility for constitutional cases, final appeals over chieftaincy cases, supervisory jurisdiction over superior courts, final appellate jurisdiction in the judicial hierarchy, and presidential election petitions. Panel member in the 2021 presidential election petition.
OCT 2012 – APRIL 2019: Justice of Court of Appeal, Ghana with responsibility for hearing and determining appeals from High Courts. Sat on the court of appeal panels in Kumasi (Oct 2015- July 2017), and Tamale (Oct 2017 to December 2019).
Averaging two judgments a month, she assisted with and wrote more than 180 well-researched appellate judgments on substantive law, legal philosophies, rules of procedure & equity, delivered with a focus on doing substantial justice and avoiding miscarriage of justice.
MAY 2004 – OCT 2012: Justice of High Court, Ghana and Judge / Neutral with responsibility for court-assisted mediation & negotiation in pre-trial settlement conferences.
During the period, she wrote more than 150 well-researched judgments delivered after the adjudication of commercial disputes; and more than 350 disputes were resolved and un-appealable decisions were recorded after mediated settlements.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUPPORT WORK IN JUDICIARY
Chair, E-Justice Committee – Leading the planning of automation of all levels of courts, procurement and incorporation of the use of electronic resources and software in the work of Judicial Service
Supervising Judge – With oversight responsibility for the smooth running of Commercial Divisions of High Courts since 2013.
Chair, ‘Enforcing Contracts’ Subgroup of the Business Regulatory Reform Program – A program for designing and implementing interventions to ensure efficient enforcement of contracts with funds from the World Bank and executed under the auspices of the Ministry for Trade and Industry.
Chair, The Business Environment Enablement Program – Multimillion pound sterling project for reforming commercial justice delivery implemented by the Judiciary with funds from DFID, United Kingdom between 2015 and 2020.
Chair, E-Judgment Committee – Planning and implementation of electronic library resources for the Judiciary and Judicial Officers since 2015.
Vice-Chair – Internship and Clerkship Program for the Judiciary.
Faculty Member – Judicial Training Institute – facilitating learning in Judicial Ethics, Judgment Writing, Case Management, Courtroom Communication, and Commercial Law.
Member – Governing Board of Judicial Training Institute – Responsible for planning and monitoring training programs and learning resources for the Judiciary and Judicial Service staff.
Member, Editorial Committee of Association of Magistrates & Judges of Ghana – Responsible for leading the publication of Journals, Newsletters & Magazines for the Judicial Service and the Judiciary.
Member – Committee responsible for the development of the Judicial Charter and other written resources for the Judiciary.
Chaired interview panels for the engagement of senior officers of the Judicial Service.
Chaired various committees for procurement of equipment and construction services for the Judicial Service.
PRE-JUDICIARY WORK EXPERIENCE
1997-2004 Managing Partner, Sozo Law Consult – Law Firm providing consultancy services for business ventures, project planning and supervision, advocacy in litigation, arbitration and negotiations;
Chief Executive of SLC Law Forum – A Publishing, Training & Research Support Service for Business Law (subsidiary of Sozo Law Consult). Organized several training programs in Commercial Law topics and legal skills such as negotiation of project contracts for the business community. Undertook consultancy services for the Business Law Division of the Ministry of Justice. Led the publication of A Handbook on Business Law, and the annual publication of Legislative Watch;
1994-1996 – Director, Fugar & Co, Accra Responsible for assisting with the management of the law firm and its project initiatives while continuing to work as solicitor and barrister
1987-1994 – Associate, Fugar & Co, Accra
Working as Solicitor engaged in the negotiation & drafting of commercial agreements, project documentation; company secretarial services; Barrister assisting with or leading litigation in all levels of courts
During this period, she also worked as:
External Solicitor for City of Tema – Giving legal advice on Administrative Law issues for the Tema Municipal Assembly; commencing and defending legal actions against TMA; leading the negotiation of development projects for the municipality.
Facilitator in Construction Law and Project Management Training Programs for the Ministry of Roads & Highways, Ghana Institute of Engineers, Ghana Institution of Architects, Ghana Institute of Construction.
1989 – Received award from the International Bar Association for the top essay in a global essay competition on international law considerations in project contracts organized to assist with increasing knowledge of lawyers in construction and project contracts. The prize included cash and working in the Construction Law Department of Nabarro Nathanson, a top 20 law firm in London, UK
Academic Research, Articles, Publications
‘The Doctrine of Sovereignty in International relations v. The doctrine of Sanctity of Contracts – The case of renegotiating the Ghana Valco Agreement’.
International Business Lawyer Dec 1989
‘Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Minority Rights, Looking at the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the lens of tribal groups in Ghana’.
Research Paper on International Human Rights submitted as part of an LLM Requirement; Golden Gate University 2011.
‘Nuremberg, Congo, and Libya, Has Might Remained Right Or Right has become Might; A Look at the International Commitment to peaceful resolution of Conflicts.
Research Paper on Peaceful Settlement of Disputes Between Nations submitted as part of an LLM Requirement; Golden Gate University 2011.
‘Fitting Square Pegs in Round Holes – The Vexed Question Of Harmonizing International Legal Regulation Of Traditional Cultural Expressions in Intellectual Property Law’
Research Paper presented at Fulbright Symposium on International Law Developments, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, 2011
Creating Capital from Culture, Rethinking the Provisions on Expressions of Folklore in Ghana’s Copyright Law
Volume XV111, Spring 2012; Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law, Golden Gate University School of Law
Considerations (Non-Considerations) of International Law in Domestic Decisions of the Superior Courts In Ghana
Judicial Journal, 2014
‘The Case for Prioritization of Commercial Justice Reforms in Africa: Lessons from Ghana’ –
Paper delivered at Conference on Administration of Commercial Justice in Africa – Arusha, TANZANIA, September 2007
‘A review of Remedies in Intellectual Property Cases under Civil Procedure Rules 2004 CI 47’ –
Presented at Conference on ‘Reviewing the Scope of Intellectual Property laws in Ghana’ – WIPO/Judicial Service of Ghana, June 2008
Judicial Ethics Training Manual (Chief Editor), 2009
‘Can we thrive in a virtual world’
Presented at ‘2022 Bench/Bar/Faculty Lectures in Ghana April 2022
Several articles on the tension between interest rates and debt sustainability, other commercial law subjects, judicial ethics and leadership published in the Judicial Journal (now The Bench) between 2009 and 2022
2010-11 – LLM, Intellectual Property Law – Golden Gate University San Francisco, USA
2001 – P.G.Dip, International Law & Organizations for Development, Institute of Social Studies (now part of Erasmus University), The Hague, Netherlands
1986 – Professional Certificate in Law, Ghana School of Law
1984 – BA- Law & Sociology, University of Ghana
1980 – GCE A Level, Achimota School, Accra
1978 – GCE O Level, Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast
Other Trainings and Presentations
2022 Technology and the Courts – Singapore
2022 Navigating Presidential Petitions, the Law and Remedies. (Seminar organized in preparation for the 2022 Kenyan elections) Mombasa, Kenya
2018 Ghana’s Strategic Plan In Combatting Pharmaceutical Crimes – West Africa Regional Training Center of US Embassy, Accra
2017 Trends in Intellectual Property Litigation – WIPO, Geneva
Commercial Justice and Legal Ethics – Law Society of Zimbabwe
2016 Managing Electoral Petitions -Judicial Training Institute, Ghana
2010 Auditing Systems of Justice Delivery – Malawi
2008 a. Diplomatic Immunity
Judicial Case Management – Judicial Training Institute, Ghana
2007 a. Judicial Ethics
Access to Justice – Judicial Training Institute, Ghana
2007 Facilitating Judicial Education–National Judicial Inst, Canada in collaboration with Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, Ottawa, Canada
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights -Global Intellectual Property Academy, Virginia, USA
2006 a. Mining Law – Environmental Protection Agency
Electoral Laws – Judicial Training Institute
2005 a. Finance and Accounting for Judges – Judicial Training Institute
2005 b. Fighting Counterfeit Medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mediation and Arbitration, International Law Institute Washington
2004 a. Legal Integration in West & Central Africa – The OHADA module, Dakar, Senegal
Development of Commercial Courts- RIPA International, UK
2003 Program for Advanced Leadership, Haggai Institute, Hawaii
2000 Legal Issues in Structuring Public Private Partnership Projects – Institute of Public Private Partnerships, Washington, DC
1998 Alternative Dispute Resolution’; University of Ghana, LECIA
1997 ADR & Conflict Management; University of Ghana, LECIA
1995 ‘Basic Securities, Advanced Securities’ – Ghana Stock Exchange
1995 International Construction Contracts; The Study Group, Oxford, UK
Writing Poetry, Plays and Fiction, Evangelism
Books and Plays
Gertrude Torkornoo (Ed.) ‘Business in Ghana – A handbook on laws and regulations’ 1st Edition – 2000; 2nd Edition – 2003 (Published by SLC Law Forum)
Gertrude Torkornoo (Ed) ‘Legislative Watch’ (A research tool on the laws amended, reviewed and newly passed in Ghana) – From 1997 (Updated annually until 2002; now being developed as an electronic resource) (Published by SLC Law Forum)
Gertrude Torkornoo 2010, ‘The Child and the Rainbow’ – Anthology of Poetry printed by Combert Impressions
Gertrude Torkornoo 2010, ‘The Wise Still Hear the Birds’ – Anthology of Poetry printed by Combert Impressions
Plays – Blood & Roses (2016); The Richest King (2017); A Day For Rain (2018) (Written for Radio)
2018 – present: Member, Governing Council, Central University
2016 – present: Member, Law Reform Commission of Ghana
2016 – present: Fellow, Ghana Institute of Construction
2010 – present: Member, International Association of Women Judges
2007 – present: Fellow, Commonwealth Judicial Educators Institute, Canada
2005 – present: Faculty member, Haggai Institute for Advanced Leadership, Singapore/Thailand and Hawaii, USA
2004 – present: Member, Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana
1992 – present: Executive Board Member, Aglow Fellowship International, Tema
1991 – Council Member, Theovision International
Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo is married to Mr. Francis Torkornoo, a Pharmacist, and has four daughters and three grandchildren.