Agona Stool V. Ex-Agonahene Kwadjo Apaw (1943)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Native Tribunal—Asantehene’s ” A ” Court’s Jurisdiction—Action for Declaration that property is stool property—Proper Court—Stool Property Protection Ordinance, 1940 (No. 22 of 1940) (Gold Coast), section 5.
Plaintiff succeeded in the Asantehene’s ” A ” Court in an action for a declaration that certain property was stool property. On appeal, the Chief Commissioner’s Court held that the Asantehene’s Court had no jurisdiction in view of section 5 of the Stool Property Protection Ordinance, 1940, which provides that questions as to whether property is or is not Stool Property shall be determined by a Divisional Chief’s Court and declared. the Tribunal’s decision void.
Held : This decision was right ; appeal dismissed.
The Court conimented on the great hardship caused to litigants by the legislature in such cases in making it so difficult for them to ascertain which is the proper Court to which to take their dispute.
There is no need to set out the facts.
E. 0. Asafu-Adjaya (with him H. A. N. Benjamin) for Appellant.
B. K. Tamakloe for Respondent.
The following joint judgment was delivered :—
KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C.J., GOLD COAST AND LANE, J., GOLD COAST.
(Read by the President.)
In this case the Agona Stool, through its representative the Agonahene Akyeampong Akwasi, sued • the defendant, an Ex-
Agonahene, in the Asantehene’s ” A ” Court for a declaration that certain house property in Kumasi is Agona Stool Property. The property in question is outside the Agona Division. The judgment of the Asantehene’s ” A ” Court was in favour of the plaintiff with costs.
On appeal to the Chief Commissioner’s Court the Acting Assistant Chief Commissioner, who constituted the Court, held that in view of the redress which the law provides in section 5 of the Stool Property Protection Ordinance, 1940 (Not 22 of 1940) which reads
” If any question arises as to whether any property is or ” is not Stool property, the. matter shall be enquired into and ” determined by the Divisional Chief’s Court; provided that ” any person aggrieved by the decision of the Divisional ” Chief’s Court thereon may within one month appeal to the ” Chief Commissioner in his administrative capacity, whose ” decision shall be final.”
the Asantehene’s ” A ” Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case and he declared the proceedings before that Court void. He ordered’ each party to bear his own costs in both Courts. We agree with the decision of the Acting Assistant Chief Commissioner for the reason he gives. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs assessed at 227 3a 6d. We make no variation of the order of the Chief Commissioner’s Court as to costs in the two lower Courts.
Before leaving the case we think it proper to point out the great hardship canoed to litigants by the legislature having made it so difficult for them to ascertain which is the proper court to which to take their disputes. In this case the plaintiff stool has made one guess and guessed wrong. It is now called upon to guess again and choose between possible alternatives, and the question of which is right involves a difficult question of interpretation, it is not for us to decide that question on the present appeal.