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Madam Vakoh Chapman Heir And Successor According To Native Customary Law Of Her Son The Late W. K. Chapman Of Keta (Deceased) V. Messieurs Compagniefrancaise De L’afriqite Occidentale & Anor (1943) LJR-WACA

Madam Vakoh Chapman Heir And Successor According To Native Customary Law Of Her Son The Late W. K. Chapman Of Keta (Deceased) V. Messieurs Compagniefrancaise De L’afriqite Occidentale & Anor (1943)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Evidence—Estoppel—Res judicata—Privies—Predecessor in suit not predecessor in title.Native Tribunal—Procedure—Judgment of Councillors who didnot hear evidence—No appeal—annulment of proceedings.Practice and Procedure—Representative action—Defendant purporting to represent family without authority—Defendant’s representative capacity disputed.

Facts

Plaintiff, the heir and successor under Native Customary Law of W.Chapman deceased, sued the defendant Company for arrears of rent of certain premises. The co-defendant was joined as repretientative of a family of which, as he admitted in cross-examination, his mother, then living, was the head. He produced no authority from his mother to represent her or the family.

The co-defendant pleaded estoppel by res judicata. The land in question was marsh land acquired by W. K. Chapman in 1921 and reclaimed by him in 1925-26. The proceedings on which the co-defendant relied were started by the co-defendant in a Native Tribunal in 1930 against Chief Ocloo I. On Chief Ocloo I’s death W. K. Chapman became Chief Ocloo II and was substituted as defendant. After his death in 1933, when plaintiff succeeded to his property, Chief Ocloo III, the son of Chief Ocloo I, was substituted as defendant, and judgment was given against hint in 1935. Plaintiff was never a party to the proceedings. The judgment was given by a set of Councillors all of whom had not sat to hear the evidence. Under Native Law and Custom property descends through the female line and consequently Chief Ocloo III did not succeed to the property 9f Chief Ocloo I or of W. K. Chapman.

See also  Samuel Barlatt V. Dimitri Yanni (1935) LJR-WACA

The trial Judge held that the plea of res judicata failed; that the proceedings on which it was based were a nullity because all the Councillors had not heard the evidence; and that the co-defendant, having no authority to represent his family, had no locus standi before the Court.

Held

(i) that the plea of res judicata failed
(ii)that while the proceedings on which the plea was based might have been annulled on appeal, no appeal had been brought, and therefore the judgment stood good and could not be treated as a nullity;
(iii) that the co-defendant, had not established his right to represent the family.

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