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ADOM AND ANOTHER v. KWARLEY


  • New
  • 1962-02-19
  • HIGH COURT
  • 1 GLR 112-113
  • Print

OLLENNU, J.


Summary

Customary Law?-Property acquired by father with assistance of wife and son?-Whether joint property or self-acquired property of father.

Headnotes

Robert Owusu Adom, deceased, was a mason. He built a house at Kaneshie, Accra, with the active participation of his wife, Dodua, who sold the produce of their vegetable farm to raise the necessary funds, and his son, the first plaintiff herein, an apprentice mason. By his will Robert devised the house to his sister, the defendant herein. The plaintiffs, all children of Robert, sued for a declaration of their interest in the said house, alleging that in view of the part they played in the acquisition, it belonged jointly to the father, the wife and the children, and Robert could not deal with it without their consent.

Judgement

ACTION by children for declaration that they are joint owners with their father of house built by their father with their help.

The two plaintiffs are the children of one Robert Owusu Adom, deceased. The defendant is a sister of the whole blood of the deceased. The said Robert Owusu Adorn died testate devising under his will, exhibit 1, House No. 123/7, Kaneshie, Accra, to the defendant.

The testator was a farmer and a brick mason. He worked with the first plaintiff, his son, on his farm and taught him his said trade. The plaintiffs' case is that as a boy the first plaintiff and his mother, Dodua, now deceased, assisted the testator on his farm, where they grew okro, tomatoes and cassava; Dodua marketed the produce of the farm. Out of the proceeds of the sale, the testator made blocks, and with the assistance of the first plaintiff as his apprentice the father as master mason, erected the building now in dispute.

It was submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs that by reason of the assistance which the first plaintiff and his mother rendered on the farm by the marketing of the produce and by the assistance as apprentice mason, the house became the joint property of the first plaintiff, his mother, his father and of all the children of the testator and his wife Dodua. No authority was cited to support this strange proposition of law.

By customary law a child is entitled to his upkeep, that is, his maintenance and training, from his father, and he is under a duty and an obligation to assist the father in his trade or business. That assistance which a child gives to the father does not entitle him to any beneficial interest in any property the father may acquire with the earnings from his said trade or business; see Okwabi v. Adonu (Consolidated).1 Similarly a wife who assists her husband in his trade or calling does not become joint-owner with the husband of what the husband earns or any property he acquires with the income from his work: see Quartey v. Martey and Anor2. The law on the point as it affects a child is set out in Adjabeng v. Kwabla3 as follows:

"By customary law, where a son or a ward works with his father or guardian and out of the proceeds of that joint labour the father or guardian acquired property, the son or ward does not become joint-owner of that property with the father or guardian... Similarly, by customary law where a son or a ward assists his father or guardian with money and the father or guardian uses that money, or that money together with other monies of his own, to acquire property, the son or ward does not become joint-owner with the father or guardian of the property so acquired."

There are no merits in the plaintiffs' claim. Their claim is dismissed, and judgment entered thereon for the defendant with costs fixed at 35 guineas.

Decision

Action dismissed.

Plaintiff / Appellant

I. Amoo-Lamptey

Defendant / Respondent

C. Coussey

Referals

(1) Okwabi v. Adonu (Consolidated) (1957) 2 W.A.L.R. 268, W.A.C.A.

(2) Quartey v. Martey and Anor. [1959] G.L.R. 377

(3) Adjabeng v. Kwabla [1960] G.L.R. 37

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