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George Abel Ayo Scott V. The King (1950) LJR-WACA

George Abel Ayo Scott V. The King (1950)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Forgery—Whether person with general authority to sign cheques who fraudu-
lently makes out cheques on behalf of his principal knowing that the amount is not payable is guilty of forgery.

Facts

The appellant was convicted on eleven counts relating to forgery and false pretences in respect of two cheques and a cheque order form made out by him.

The appellant was the senior cashier in charge of the Pay Office of the Lagos Treasury and had a general authority to sign cheques for the payment of money out of Government’s account with the Bank of British West Africa, but every cheque had to be countersigned by the Colony Treasurer or the Accounting Assistant.

The first four counts related to a cheque for £110 10s. 5d., made out and signed by the appellant and fully countersigned, payable to one, D. 0. Okoro, for foodstuffs supplied to the Medical Department. In fact, D. 0. Okoro had already been paid this sum and, therefore, nothing was due to him. The appellant cashed the cheque by means of a forged endorsement of D. 0. Okoros name. It was proved that the appellant acted fraudulently.

Counts 5-8 related to a cheque for L41 ls. 4d., also fraudulently made out by the appellant in favour of one, M. S. Bojike, in a similar manner, but it was not proved that the appellant endorsed or cashed the cheque.

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Counts 9-11 related to a forged cheque order form, but involved no important point of law and do not, therefore, merit consideration.

The main question on this appeal was whether the appellant’s acts in relation to counts 1-8 constituted forgery. It was argued that, although the cheques were fraudulent they were not forgeries. The Crown contended that, although the appellant had a general authority to sign cheques, the Government would not have authorised him to sign cheques for moneys that were not due, and that having fraudulently acted in excess of his authority he was guilty of forgery.

Held

That where a person has a general authority to sign cheques and fraudulently acts in excess of that authority, he is not guilty of forgery. The cheque for £11010s. 5d. was not a forged document, but the endorsement thereon was forged, and the Judge’s finding that the endorsement was false and that the appellant cashed the cheque imports of necessity the irresistible inference that the appellant either forged the endorsement himself or procured someone to forge it for him, and he was accordingly rightly convicted on counts 1 and 2 of forging a document and uttering it.

Held further, that in respect of counts 5 and 6 the cheque was not forged, and as the appellant was not proved to have endorsed the cheque or to have cashed it, he was not guilty of forging the cheque or uttering it, but was rightly convicted of false pretences on count 8 as he obtained the cheque by the false pretence that it was due to one, Bojike.

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Appeal allowed on Counts 5, 6 and 7.

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