Amokwandoh V. United African Co. Ltd & Anor (1933)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Lease by a native A. not purporting to contract in any representative capacity to a European Firm—Judgment of a Native Tribunal prohibiting A . from collecting any rents under the lease and declaring B. as head of the family entitled to do so—Refusal of lessees at B.’s request to pay any more rent to A. Action by A. against the lessees for possession and mere profits—Joinder of B. as co-defendant–Parol evidence inadmissible to vary or explain lease—Lessees not allowed to dispute their lessor’s title though demised premises clearly proved to be family property.
An action was brought by the plaintiff as lessor against the first defendants as lessees to recover possession of the demised premises in respect of which the first defendants had, at the request of the second defendant, refused to continue paying rent to the plaintiff. The second defendant, who claimed to be entitled to such rent as head of the family to whom the demised premises really belonged and by virtue of a judgment of a Native Tribunal, applied to be joined as a codefendant and her application was granted. The case was heard by the Police Magistrate at Winneba in the first instance, and he held that as the demised premises were family property the plaintiff, though he had not purported to contract on behalf of the family, must be taken to have done so. He accordingly gave judgment for the defendants, and his judgment was upheld on appeal to the Divisional Court at Cape Coast.
On appeal to the West African Court of Appeal it was held (Deane, C.J. dissenting) that although the second defendant had been rightly joined, yet in view of the fact that the lease itself did not expressly state that the plaintiff was contracting for and on behalf Hof and with the authority of the family, the plaintiff must be regarded as having contracted on his own behalf and the first defendants could not be allowed to dispute his title.
It was further held that the mere fact that in the lease itself the plaintiff was referred to as the lessor ” which expression where the context so admits shall include his heirs, executors, family, administrators and assigns ” could not, in the absence of anything more explicit, operate to bind his family.
The appeal was therefore allowed with costs in the Court of Appeal and the Courts below.