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Obianwu V. Orefo & Ors (1936) LJR-WACA

Obianwu V. Orefo & Ors (1936)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Claim for damages for trespass to land and for an injunction—Interpretation of section 9 (b) of the Protectorate Courts Ordinance, 1933—”Title to land or any interest therein.”

Held : The words ” suits which raise any issue as to the title to land or any interest therein ” mean ” suits which raise any issue as to the title to land or as to the title to any interest therein,” i.e. in land.

E. J. A. Taylor (with him 0. Alaksja and I. 0. C. Martins) for plaintiff.

W. Wells Palmer for defendants.

The following joint opinion was delivered :-

KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C.J., GOLD COAST, AND WEBBER, C.J., SIERRA LEONE.

The point submitted for the consideration of this Court is whether in section 9 (b) of the Protectorate Courts Ordinance, 1938, the words ” title to land or any interest therein ” mean ” title to land or any interest in the title to land ” or, ” title to land or any interest in land.”

The whole clause reads as follows :—

(b) except in so far as the Governor may by Order in Council otherwise direct, and except in suits transferred to the High Court under the provisions of section 25 of the Native Courts Ordinance, 1933, the High Court shall not exercise original jurisdiction in suits which raise any issue as to the title to land or any interest therein in cases in which the suit is subject to the jurisdiction of a native court.”

See also  Rex V. Gide of Asatuwa (1935) LJR-WACA

We have no hesitation in saying that the ordinary interpretation which would be put upon the words in question by the ordinary man reading them is the second of the two alternatives submitted to us. The only reason that doubt was thrown upon this interpretation in the Court below was owing to reference being made to a decision of the Divisional Court in England in 1902 in the case of The King v. French and Others (1902 1 K.B. p. 687) the. report of which was not available to the Court below. Reference to that case shows that it does not suggest by analogy the former of the two alternative interpretations submitted to us and this interpretation therefore need not be further considered. That case however does suggest a meaning to paragraph 9 (b) of. our Ordinance which we think it desirable to place on record.

In the case of Rex v. French the Court held that the words ” any

question shall arise as to the title to any lands, tenements or hereditaments, or any interest therein or accruing therefore ” meant ” any question shall arise as to the title to any lands, tenements or hereditaments, or as to the title to any interest therein or accruing therefrom.”

On the analogy of this case the words in section 9 (b) of Ordinance No. 45 of 1933, ” suits which raise any issue as to the title to land or any interest therein ” mean ” suits which raise any issue as to the title to land or as to the title to any interest therein,” i.e. in land ; and we think that this is the meaning which they must be held to have.

We answer the question submitted to us accordingly.

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The following Order was made :—The defendants are awarded costs in this Court against the plaintiff assessed at ten guineas.

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