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BONNEY v. YANKUM AND OTHERS


  • appeal
  • 1961-03-01
  • SUPREME COURT
  • GLR 133 - 134
  • Print

KORSAH C.J., VAN LARE AND AKIWUMI, JJ.S.C.


Summary

Customary law?-Stool land?-Grant by stool?-Proof of title?-Judgment of local court against the weight of evidence?-Duty of appeal judge.

Headnotes

The plaintiff and the defendants both at one time or another attempted to exercise acts of ownership and possession over a piece of land, each relying on grants alleged to have been made by the stool of Dutch Sekondi to their respective predecessors. The trial court gave judgment for the plaintiff for possession, and this was affirmed by the Land Court, Sekondi, the learned judge holding that although there was a paucity of evidence in support of the plaintiff's claim, he was not prepared to disturb the findings of the local court in the plaintiff's favour.

Judgement

APPEAL from the decision of Smith, J. in the Land Court, Sekondi delivered on the 11th April, 1960, (unreported) affirming the decision of the Sekondi-Takoradi Municipal Court (A.B. Sagoe-Arhu, Esq., President) delivered on the 8th April, 1959, in an action for damages for trespass and declaration of title to land.

JUDGMENT OF KORSAH, C.J.

Korsah C.J. delivered the judgment of the court. [His lordship referred to the facts and continued:] The trial court, not withstanding the plaintiff's failure to adduce satisfactory evidence, found for the plaintiff, which according to counsel for the plaintiff (the respondent herein) may be supported by a presumption that the panel of the trial court might have been influenced by their knowledge of local facts which were not adduced at the hearing. It is fantastic to contend that a court can be influenced by any evidence not adduced before it.

On appeal to the Land Court, the learned judge while conceding to the paucity of evidence in support of the plaintiff's claim for declaration of title, said: [p.134]

"The plaintiff's evidence to which I have referred is not a great deal. The local court held that there was sufficient evidence, and although I confess to having had some difficulty on the point, I am not prepared to disturb the finding of the local court in favour of the plaintiff, and the appeal is therefore dismissed."

In the case of Codjoe v. Kwatchey1, Webber, C.J. (Nigeria) held that:

"The Appeal Court is not debarred however from coming to its own conclusion on the facts and where a judgment has been appealed from on the ground of the weight of evidence the Appeal Court can make up its own mind on the evidence; not disregarding the judgment appealed from but carefully weighing and considering it and not shrinking from overruling it if on full consideration it comes to the conclusion that the judgment is wrong."

In our view, as the learned judge of the Land Court was of the opinion that the evidence was insufficient to support the plaintiff's claim, he should not have shrunk from overruling and setting aside the decision of the trial municipal court. In our opinion the learned judge erred by not allowing the appeal. We are therefore left to make the order which the Land Court ought to have made. In the result we allow this appeal, set aside the judgment together with the orders as to costs of the Land Court and of the trial municipal court and enter judgment for the defendants.

Decision

<P>Appeal allowed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

E. B. Gaisie

Defendant / Respondent

R. S. Blay

Referals

Codjoe v. Kwatchey (1935) 2 W.A.C.A. 371.

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