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Chief Joseph Wobo & Ors V. The Attorney-General (1952) LJR-WACA

Chief Joseph Wobo & Ors V. The Attorney-General (1952)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Real property—Agreement to sell—Part performance—Agreement to accept a sum and an annual amount for ever.
Contract—Abandonment of—Question of evidence.

Facts

Appellants, as plaintiffs suing asrepresentatives of certain people and successors of former Chiefs and headmen, sued for a declaration of ownership of certain land and cancellation of two documents on the ground that the parties were not ad idem when the documents were executed.

They lost and in their appeal argued besides that the documents were not agreements for sale. The first document, made in 1913, agreed to grant certain land to Government in consideration of an amount received; the second, made in 1928, recited that it was supplemental to the first, the terms of which were to be varied by an immediate payment of a specified larger amount and so much per annum thereafter for ever; in other respects the first document was to remain in force and be read with the second as if incorporated in the first.

The amount mentioned in the first document as received was not in fact received; and it was argued for the appellants that Government’s conduct amounted to abandonment of the contract, which could not be revived by the second document. In fact Government did enter, before the second document, into possession of some of the area mentioned in the first; moreover the second document was executed by the same chiefs and headmen as before (except one chief who died and whose place was taken by his successor).

It was also argued for the appellants that payment of an amount per annum was payment by instalments and until final payment Government were tenants at will; also that the second document was void for uncertainty as regards price, and the area of land conveyed: but there was a plan attached to the first document and a surveyor’s evidence left no doubt that the latter point was groundless.

See also  Commissioner Of Police V. Walter Loeb (1940) LJR-WACA

As regards the allegation that the parties were not ad idem, there was an oath of proof that the signatories had the documents interpreted to them and understood them, and received the money stated in the second document.

Further, on the very day the second document was executed, a third document was
executed by which Government granted a portion of the land in question to the Chiefs and headmen and people concerned, and one of the Chiefs acknowledged
the grant. Moreover, later, the Chiefs and people concerned sent a petition complaining that the sum paid per annum was inadequate, acknowledging the
second document and asking for revision.

For the Attorney-General it was argued that the two documents were assurances and the Court was invited so to hold.

Held

(1) The evidence showed that the parties were ad idem; nor was there any uncertainty as to the area of land in question or as to price, both having been specified and the land having been shown on a plan besides.

(2) The first agreement was not abandoned: under it Government entered into possession of a portion of the land, and that agreement was mentioned again in the second agreement, which was incorporated in the first.

(3) There is nothing to prevent a vendor of land from agreeing to accept an immediate payment and so much per annum for ever instead of a larger lump
sum down.

(4) By the first document the Chiefs and others agreed “to grant and sell”, and it is referred to in the second document as an agreement “for the sale and purchase”; these words do not operate as a transfer, but the documents constitute a binding contract of sale and there having been part performance of it, the appellants held the land (less the portion granted to them by the Governor) as trustees of the Governor and were bound to execute a conveyance of the land to him if so required.

See also  Peter Henry Schandorf & Anor V. Christian Mensah Holm & Anor (1943) LJR-WACA

Appeal dismissed.

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