Quarcoo Vrs Jemaa (HI/36/2004.) [2004] GHACA 29 (23 July 2004);








                      ASARE KORANG, JA

                      PIESARE, JA


                      WILLIAM A. QUARCOO          ]     …   PLT/APPELT


                       MADAM JEMAA                        ]      …   DEFT/RESPT


                                              J  U  D  G  M  E  N  T


TWUMASI, JA  -  The proceedings which culminated in this appeal originated from the Community Tribunal Accra where the appellant, claiming to be the owner of a piece of land prayed the court for orders against the respondent for recovery of possession of the said land and ejectment therefrom.  His ground for proceeding against the respondent   was that the respondent was a licencee who had refused or failed to react positively to the appellant’s call upon him to quit from the house.  The Community Tribunal gave judgment for the appellant.

           On appeal from the said court to the High Court, the judgment was overturned and judgment was entered for the respondent.  Against this judgment the appellant has appealed on a number of grounds.  Before the High Court certain clear facts emerged and I wish to recapitulate them.  The respondent first entered the land thinking that it belonged to the Abossey Okai Stool.

            Nevertheless he never acquired specific grant from the said stool and he continued to be on the land as a licencee.  Thereafter the appellant also happened to enter the land.  Each of them claimed to have erected some structure on the land. 

In the aftermath of their entry into the land they came to learn that a fierce litigation was raging between the Akumadjei Stool and the Abossey Okai Stool over the ownership of the land.  In fact both parties set themselves poised to await the result of the litigation.

            In the result the Akumadjei Stool emerged victorious as the owner of the land.  The appellant took steps to acquire title to his land.  He prepared a document purporting to be an indenture to be presented to the stool for execution.  The document had not however been registered although it had been processed and executed.  It had also not been approved by the Lands Commission.  In other words the consent and concurrence of the said commission had not been obtained as required by statute.

           On the other side of the litigation was the respondent who relied perilously upon the bare long possession of the land.  He had not armed himself with any document of title.  The first ground of appeal was the usual omnibus ground namely the judgment was against the weight of evidence.  Counsel argued that the learned trial judge erred in that he misapprehended the real facts by assuming that the parties derived their title through different stools whereas the true facts were that they were both on common ground that they relied on the stool which was soon to be declared owner of the land.  It is conceded that the trial judge made that error but in my view the error was not decisive and could be ignored.  The next important ground of appeal was whether the learned trial judge was right in his view that the unregistered document was invalid

            In the case of Odoi v. Hammond [1971] 1 GLR 375 the Court of appeal held in the holding (2) of the report thus:-

                             “holding (2) The deed purporting to confirm the plaintiff’s

                               customary grant was an instrument registrable under the

                               Land Registry Act 1962 (Act 122), because it was in writing

                               affecting land situate in Ghana.  Since it was not registered,

                               it was void and of no effect.”

             The learned trial judge was therefore right when he held that the unregistered instrument in the hands of the appellant would not assist him because it was invalid.  Also in the case of Amuzu v. Oklika [1998-98] SCGLR P. 141 at holding (1) the following appears:-

                               “True, the principle of registration has blurred the edge of the

                                 doctrine of notice with respect to transfers of the legal estate

                                 in land.  Nevertheless the equitable doctrine of notice cannot

                                 be ignored by the courts in circumstances in which the

                                 transaction is patently unjust.”  A court cannot ignore the

                               unconscionable conduct on the part of a subsequent purchaser

                               even though he has notice – actual, constructive or imputed –

                               of third party rights and interests in the property he seeks to


         Although in the instant case, the relationship between the parties is not akin to that of first purchaser and subsequent one the principle of equity stated in the above case or the view of the Supreme Court is transferable.  The appellant no less than the Akumadjei Stool knew or must be deemed to have had constructive notice of the prior possession or occupation of the land by the respondent.  In law a licencee has an interest in the land he occupies, if only because at least he is entitled to a reasonable notice from the true owner of the land to compel him to vacate the land concerned.  The stool could not therefore make a grant of the land to the appellant without reference to the respondent.  The grant to the appellant was therefore wrong and learned trial judge was right in so declaring.  It is my view that the learned trial judge came to the right conclusion and I affirm his judgment. 

          Consequently the appeal is dismissed.


                                                                                            P.K. TWUMASI

                                                                                        JUSTICE OF APPEAL



I agree.                                                                                A. ASARE-KORANG

                                                                                          JUSTICE OF APPEAL




I also agree.                                                                            E. K. PIESARE 

                                                                                            JUSTICE OF APPEAL