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ALIFO AND THE v. AMEDZA


  • appeal
  • 1961-03-17
  • SUPREME COURT
  • GLR 157-159
  • Print

VAN LARE, SARKODEE-ADOO AND AKIWUMI, JJ.S.C.


Summary

Customary law?-Tenancy of cocoa farms?-Tenants ejected by landlord?-Landlord in possession for six years?-Whether ejection wrongful?-Accounts.

Headnotes

The defendant in a previous action had successfully claimed declaration of title to land and for rent to be paid to him by the plaintiffs for occupying the land. He thereafter ejected the plaintiffs and, as he himself said: ?"I took charge of the whole farms and managed everything by myself and the proceeds of the farms as well became mine since then.?" The plaintiffs claimed an account for all the cocoa proceeds since the defendant took over the farms.

Judgement

APPEAL from the decision of the Commissioner of Assize and Civil Pleas (J. Lazarus Minnow, Esq.,) delivered on the 17th December, 1958 in the Land Court, Ho, in an action for account of the proceeds of cocoa farms of which the plaintiffs claimed they were the tenants.

JUDGMENT OF AKIWUMI J.S.C.

Akiwumi J.S.C. delivered the judgment of the court. On or about the 28th April, 1945, the defendant in this case instituted an action against the plaintiffs in this case in the native court of Peki in which he claimed:

?"The appearance of the defendants jointly and severally before the native court to show cause and assign reasons why they would not pay a rent of 3 loads of cocoa yearly each in respect of their cocoa farms on plaintiff?'s land at Adabotoloe.?"

In that case judgment was given for the present plaintiffs. The present defendant appealed to the native court of appeal which reversed the judgment and ordered the plaintiffs to remain on their farms, but to pay each by way of rent two loads of cocoa annually to the defendant. The nature of the claim in that case was a claim for declaration of title to the land and for rent for occupation of it. The plaintiffs being dissatisfied appealed to the Land Court and on the 25th October, 1950, Coussey, J. dismissed the appeal and confirmed the judgment of the native appeal court but amended it by adding after the word ?"rent?", ?"or the value thereof on or before the 1st of January each year.?"

The plaintiffs still not satisfied appealed therefrom to the West African Court of Appeal and on the 7th July, 1952, the appeal was dismissed.

In the meantime while the plaintiffs were busy appealing from court to court the defendant by reason of the judgment of the native appeal court in his favour ejected the plaintiffs from their farms and took possession thereof. The plaintiffs finding there was no success for them appealed in vain personally to the defendant to return the farms to them agreeing to pay the rent of cocoa ordered against them. The defendant refusing their petitions, the plaintiffs now instituted the present case against him. The claim reads as follows:

?"The plaintiffs litigated with defendant and cover the property described in the claim below:

The courts ruled that 2 loads of cocoa be given to defendant annually. In contravention to the court?'s order the defendants have seized the farms and have been enjoying all the proceeds contrary to the court?'s ruling. Wherefore the plaintiffs claim from defendants an account of the proceeds of farms situate and being at Peki and bounded on the east by Daa Kofi and Akutu Kwasi?'s properties on the west by Amedza Kwasi?'s property on the north by Amedza Kwasi?'s property and the sought by Amedza Kwasi?'s property which area covers the individual farms of the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th plaintiff?'s. That the said farm of the 2nd plaintiff?'s is bounded on the east by Duncan Amedza?'s property on the west by the [p.159] Amedza Kwasi?'s property and on the south by Duncan Amedza?'s property together in terms of the Court ?"B?" Peki on 28th April, 1945, which order was confirmed by Land Court on 25th October, 1950 and by the West African Court of Appeal but which order has been contravened by defendant.?"

The claim is clearly for an account of the amounts realised by the defendant from the proceeds of cocoa grown on the farms from which he had unlawfully ejected them thereby contravening the judgment or ruling of the court in the previous case in which the present defendant did not claim for possession. His claim was solely for declaration of title to the land and rent to be paid by the present plaintiffs for occupying his land. In as much as the defendant did not in his action claim for recovery of possession, his claim clearly showed that there was a relation of landlord and tenant between him and them as is shown by his writ. He was therefore wrong in ejecting the present plaintiffs from the land without due process of law especially in the absence of a decree for recovery of possession. In his evidence before the native court the defendant in the present case boasted that: ?"When the West African Appeal Court gave the judgment in my favour I ejected the [present] plaintiffs from their farms. I took charge of the whole farms and managed everything by myself and the proceeds of the farms as well became mine since then.?"

The defendant was in wrongful occupation of the farms and enjoyed the fruits therefrom for six years. In our view the native appeal court was right in ordering the defendant to account for all the cocoa proceeds since he took over. In the circumstances the learned Commissioner of Assize and Civil Pleas erred in holding that the plaintiffs-appellants were lawfully ejected from their farms.

Decision

<P>Appeal allowed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

B.J. da Rocha

Defendant / Respondent

J.B. Quashie-Idun

Referals

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