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ASARE v. ANTWI


  • 1961-05-01
  • HIGH COURT
  • 1 GLR 299-301
  • Print

DJABANOR, J.


Summary

Local courts?-Jurisdiction in claims for accounts.Local courts?-Jurisdiction in land causes?-Land bought from purchaser at public auction?-Whether law applicable is customary law?-Courts Act, 1960 (CA. 9) s. 98 (1) (a).

Headnotes

In exercise of power of sale contained in a deed of mortgage, the Cocoa Purchasing Company sold, at a public auction, four farms belonging to the plaintiff, the mortgagor. The purchaser at the auction subsequently sold the farms to the defendant. After the defendant had been in possession of the farms for two years the plaintiff sued him in the local court, Offinso, for accounts, alleging that he authorised the defendant to redeem the farms on his behalf and that the defendant held the farms as his, plaintiff's, agent. The plaintiff succeeded in the local court. The defendant appealed. [p.300]

Judgement

APPEAL from a judgment of a local court in an action for accounts

By his writ of summons filed in the local court at Offinso, the plaintiff claimed from the defendant:

?"a tangible reason why he is not liable to account to plaintiff for two years' proceeds of four cocoa farms which defendant was appointed by the plaintiff as his attorney to act on behalf of the plaintiff to pay a debt of G70 which was incurred by plaintiff's brother Yaw Frimpong".

This clearly is a claim for accounts, and by the rules, the local court has no jurisdiction to try it. But it is the contention of counsel for the defendant-appellant that in view of the defence pleaded, the action assumed the character of a dispute as to title to the four farms, and that that issue could properly be tried by the local court under section 98 (1)

(a) of the Courts Act, 1960.1

The facts of the case are that the plaintiff about two or three years ago mortgaged his four farms to the Cocoa Purchasing Company to secure a loan to him of G500. He defaulted and the farms were sold. According to him, he then gave the defendant authority and power of attorney to redeem the properties for him. The defendant accordingly redeemed the properties and had been in possession of same, using the proceeds from the farms in repaying the loan to the C.P.C. He now wants the defendant to render accounts to him so that he may pay him any balance due and repossess his farms. The defendant on the other hand denied that it was the plaintiff who instructed him to redeem the properties for him (plaintiff), but alleged that he himself redeemed them with his own money for himself, and therefore he was not accountable to the plaintiff.

Section 98 (1) (a) of the Courts Act, 1960 1 is in the following terms:

?"The civil jurisdiction of a Local Court shall be as follows:?-

(a) suits (in this Act called 'land causes') relating to the ownership, possession, or occupation of land, where the law applicable is exclusively customary law".

I have already held that a claim for accounts is not triable by a local court. The next point to consider is whether the law applicable to the determination of the defence raised is customary law. In my view it is not. As I understand it the defendant is claiming ownership of the [p.301] farms by purchase (he calls it redemption) from one who bought them at a sale in exercise of a power of sale contained in a mortgage deed. In my view the law applicable to the decision of these matters cannot be customary law. I must therefore hold that the local court acted beyond its jurisdiction and I must uphold counsel?'s submission in that regard.

For the above reasons therefore I must allow the appeal and set aside the judgment appealed from. The plaintiff will have to seek his remedy in the appropriate court.

The defendant-appellant will have the costs of this appeal assessed at 25 guineas.

Decision

<P>Appeal allowed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

A. Appiah-Menka

Defendant / Respondent

Bremah-Andoh

Referals

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