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  • 1959-03-20
  • GLR 135-136
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Judicial proceedings?-Objection taken by accused to panel member?-Alleged slander by objector?-Civil action by panel member contrary to "justice, equity and good conscience."


Kwadwo Dei was one of the accused persons in a certain case before the Mampong Native Court. Kofi Pong was one of the panel members. At the proceedings Dei objected to Pong's being one of those to hear the case, because (as he said) it was Pong who had "arrested" his (Dei's) sheep and goats at Kofiase, and had given them to the Kofiasehene for sale. Pong proceeded to sue Dei in the Mampong Native Court for 100 damages in respect of this allegation, which he said was defamatory. That Court found that Dei had made an allegation against Pong which had not been substantiated, and it awarded 10 damages.Dei appealed to the Magistrate's Court at Mampong, which upheld the trial-Court's decision.Dei took a second appeal to the Divisional Court, Kumasi (Civ. App. No. 13/1958).



(His Lordship stated the facts and proceeded): -

I do not consider there is any substance in the submission that this action, being one for slander, should have filed because there was no proof of special damage. Under section 9(a) of the Native Courts (Ashanti) Ordinance native courts are charged to administer native law and custom. They can scarcely be expected to understand, [p.136] let alone to administer, the intricacies of the English law of defamation. Other things being equal, in my view no objection could be taken to the Court's awarding a small sum to the plaintiff to compensate him for injury to his reputation.

However, this case must be considered in the light of what was in fact said by the defendant, and of the circumstances in which the words were spoken. In parenthesis, I would say that I find it difficult to see how the words complained of could be said to be defamatory.

But a more important consideration is that the words complained of were words spoken in the course of a judicial proceeding. As I have already indicated, one cannot apply English law to this matter, but under section 87(1) of the Courts Ordinance one must be governed by the principles of justice, equity and good conscience. It does not seem to me to be in accordance with these principles that an accused person should lay himself open to a civil action by reason of his taking an objection of this kind at his trial. Admittedly there must be limits to what the accused can properly say in such circumstances. But, if these limits are exceeded, sections 17 and 18 of the Native Courts (Ashanti) Ordinance, which deal respectively with contempt of court and false evidence, make adequate provision for dealing with such a case.


<P>For these reasons I allow the appeal, set aside the judgments of both the lower courts, and enter judgment for the defendant. The appellant is allowed his taxed costs in all t

Plaintiff / Appellant

Defendant / Respondent


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