ECOWAS Court approves template for its judgments

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has adopted a format for its judgment which deals with the issues of structure, sequence and nomenclature of the Court and harmonises its approach with those of other international Courts.

The template which was developed after a three day workshop attended by the judges and staff of the Court, deals with the description of the parties, the subject matter of the proceedings, a chronology of prior actions as well as the cases for the applicant and respondents including the summary of facts, pleas in law and reliefs sought.

It also includes the issues of jurisdiction, admissibility, proceedings before the court, the merits of the case, reparations, costs as well as the character, font, spacing and numbering of paragraphs.

The template was inspired by the formats of the International Court of Justice, the Inter American Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante explained that the template will enable the Court possess a ‘mechanism that brings greater clarity to the judgments of the Court for the benefit of the parties and lawyers with the rationale and logic properly set out, discernible and based on a logical sequence.’

At the closing ceremony of the workshop on Wednesday, 14th October 2020, the Vice President of the Court, Justice Gberi-be Ouattara described the template as an enduring mechanism for the judgments of the Court and which succeeding judges will find useful in articulating their decisions.

This is the first systematic effort to standardize the judgements of the Court since it delivered its first judgment on 27th April 2004 in the case of Olajide Afolabi versus the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Prior to the adoption, judgments of the Court were based on the interplay of the different legal traditions in the region and the personal preferences of the Judges, resulting in divergent styles and presentations which is also reflected in the designation of parties before the Court.