Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/engine/Drivers/mysql.php on line 101 W. BARTHOLOMEW & CO. LTD. v. AMPAW AND 2 OTHERS | GhanaLegal - Resources for the legal brains

W. BARTHOLOMEW & CO. LTD. v. AMPAW AND 2 OTHERS


  • New
  • 1961-10-02
  • HIGH COURT
  • GLR 553-555
  • Print

OLLENNU J.


Summary

Contract?-Agreement purporting to be made on behalf of local council?-Local Government Ordinance, Cap. 64 (1951 Rev.) s. 51 (3) and s. 163 (2).

Headnotes

On the strength of a letter purporting to have come from the East Akim Abuakwa Local Council the manager of the Koforidua branch of the plaintiff-company delivered a Ford Prefect car to a Mr. Sah, clerk of the said council. The present action was commenced against the council for G667 17s. the price of the said car. By its statement of defence the council denied knowledge of the letter and contended that it not liable. During the pendency of the suit the council was dissolved and a committee of management appointed. The present defendants, members of the committee of management, were substituted for the council.At the trial the plaintiffs sought to tender and rely upon the letter.

Judgement

Action for G667 17s. the value of a car supplied on the strength of a letter purported to be written by the East Akim Abuakwa Local Council.

The plaintiffs claim against the defendants the sum of 667 17s. as the price of one Ford Prefect de Luxe motor car sold to one E. A. Sah alleged to be upon order of the East Akim Abuakwa Local Council, the original defendants. The said council was dissolved during the pendency of this case and the defendants, a committee of management appointed under the Local Government Bulletin No. 18 of the 5th May, 1961, to manage the affairs of the area, were substituted.

The facts relied upon by the plaintiffs to sustain the claims are briefly as follows: sometime in March, 1960, the manager of the Koforidua branch of the plaintiff-company received a certain letter and upon the strength of that letter delivered the car in question to one Mr. E. A. Sah, clerk of the council. When later the company made demand upon the council for payment of the price of the car, the council disputed liability.

All the evidence led in an attempt to prove the letter in question and to establish privity of contract between the plaintiffs and the council is that the letter came through the post, it was signed by someone purporting to be signing on behalf of the chairman of the council. According to P.W.1 he had never, before the letter in question was received in his office, seen the signature on that letter at any time.

There was nothing in the evidence given by P.W.2., the branch manager in charge of Koforidua at the material time, to show that the letter in question was written upon the authority of the council. In those circumstances, that letter was rejected when it was sought to be tendered and was marked as rejected Z.

Counsel for the plaintiffs referred the court to section 51(3) of the Local Government Ordinance1, now repealed, and submitted that by reason of that section the court should declare the defendants liable because in entering upon the contract to supply the car the plaintiffs were not obliged to satisfy themselves beforehand that the amount involved was authorised under the standing orders governing the council. Learned counsel also referred to section 163(2) of the said Ordinance, which reads:

"163(2) Any document purporting to be a document duly executed or issued under the seal of a council or on behalf of a council shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to be a document so executed or issued, as the case may be."

He submitted that in view thereof the court should look at the rejected document and hold the defendants liable on the claim.

In my opinion the submission on section 163(2) of the Ordinance begs the question. The plaintiffs must first prove that the document, which is not under seal purports to have been issued on behalf of the council. To do that, they must prove that the signature to the document is that of an officer of the council authorised to sign such documents on behalf of the council. It is not enough to prove the document by merely showing that it is signed on behalf of the chairman by some unknown person. That letter could have come from anybody. In my opinion in the absence of any prima facie evidence showing that a document is signed on behalf [p.555]of the council by a person authorised to sign documents on behalf of the council, there is a complete absence of nexus between the council and the document. Therefore the said document cannot be admitted in evidence against the council.

The submission based upon section 51(3) is also misconceived. The said section of the Ordinance must be read together with section 51(1) and these are as follows:

"51(1) A council may enter into any contract necessary for the discharge of any of its functions under this or any other Ordinance:

Provided that a council shall not enter into any contract to the value of two thousand pounds or upwards without the prior approval of the Minister."

"(3) A person entering into a contract with a council shall not be bound to enquire whether the standing orders of the council which apply to the contract have been complied with or, in the case of a contract to the value of two thousand pounds or upwards, whether the prior approval of the Minister has been obtained, and all contracts entered into by a council, if otherwise valid, shall have full force and effect notwithstanding that the standing orders applicable thereto have not been complied with or that the approval of the Minister has not been obtained."

When the two subsections are read together it becomes clear that before a person could fall on section 51(3) he must first show that a contract has been entered into by a council, and that the said contract is one which is "necessary for the discharge of any of its functions under this or any other Ordinance." But there is no evidence that the contract for the supply of a car to an officer of the council is such a contract.

Upon the evidence taken as a whole, I cannot find any privity of contract between the council and the plaintiffs for the supply of the car in question. That being the case the plaintiffs' claim must fail.

The plaintiffs' claim is dismissed and judgment entered thereon for the defendants with costs fixed at 35 guineas.

Decision

Action dismissed.

Plaintiff / Appellant

J. B. Quashie-Idun

Defendant / Respondent

G. R. M. Francois

Referals

Warning: fopen(/home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/public/cache/dfb35d483a4a201c6fa43189340c892d): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/apps/modules/render/models/cache.php on line 44 Warning: fwrite() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/apps/modules/render/models/cache.php on line 46 Warning: fclose() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/apps/modules/render/models/cache.php on line 48