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John Mark V. Sampson Toe (1934) LJR-WACA

John Mark V. Sampson Toe (1934)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Person debarred from seeing for damages, where compensation ordered at criminal trial in respect of same injury—Section 75 of Criminal Code (Gold Coast)—” receipt of oompensation ” judicially interpreted as ” having opportunity to receive “.

Held : Court below was right in holding that plaintiff was debarred from bringing his action.

P. A. Renner for Appellant.

V. L. Buckle for Respondent.

The following joint judgment was delivered :—

KINGDON, C.J. NIGERIA, YATES, ACTING C.J., GOLD COAST AND GRAHAM PAUL, J.

This is a case stated by Deane, C.J., under section 6 of the West African Court of Appeal Ordinance, 1929, reserving for the consideration of this Court a question of law which arose before him upon his hearing of an appeal from the Court of the Police Magistrate at Accra.

The point at issue is whether a plaintiff is debarred from bringing an action claiming damages for assault and battery by the fact that the defendant has already been charged criminally in respect of the same assault, convicted summarily and adjudged by the Court under section 74 (2) of the Criminal Code to make compensation to the person injured, i.e., the plaintiff in the civil proceedings, although the plaintiff did not wish such compensation to be adjudged to be made in the criminal prosecution and has since refused to accept the money, which has been paid into Court by the defendant in order that he may avoid imprisonment in default.

See also  Rex V. Badaru Shanusi (1938) LJR-WACA

The question turns upon the true interpretation to be put upon section 75 of the Criminal Code which reads as follows :-

 ” Where any person, who is injured by any offence cc punishable under this code, or under any other ” statute, receives compensation for such injury ” under the order of the Court, or where the offender, ” having been ordered to .make such compensation, ” suffers imprisonment for non-payment thereof, the

The learned Chief Justice held that that section debarred the y mos, plaintiff from bringing the action and allowed the appeal against Ag. Q.J. the decision of the Police Magistrate in a contrary sense, reserving and

the question, however, for the consideration of this Court.Graham

We agree with the opinion of the Chief Justice and endorse Paul, J. the reasons he gives therefor. The wording of the section a certainly ambiguous and requires judicial interpretation-. In

giving such interpretation there are two principles to be followed; the first is that the aim must be to ascertain the real intention of the legislature and the second is that if there is any doubt in the conflict of rights between the parties, that doubt must be resolved in favour of the party penalised, because sections 74 and 75 must be read together and section 74 is a penal enactment, the order for making compensation being the infliction of a punishment (see section 73).

The whole question turns on the meaning of the words ” receives compensation “. Rave they, the restricted meaning of actual physical receipt of money or have they a wider meaning so as to include an award giving the opportunity to receive payment-?

See also  Souhail Crayem & Anor V. Consolidated African Selection Trust Limited Of Accra (1949) LJR-WACA

It seems to be the obvious intention of the two sections that in appropriate cases the Court should be little to avoid multiplicity of proceedings by dealing at one and the same time with both the public wrong and the private injury, and should have power to protect a convicted penlon from undue harshness in pursuing him on the part of the person Injured.


We therefore think that the wider interpretation should prevail and that the learned Chief Justice was right in allowing the appeal before him on the ground that by section 75 the plaintiff was debarred from bringing his action.

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