KUMASI - A.D 2017
REV. NANA ADJEI NTOW - (Plaintiff)

DATE:  16TH MARCH, 2017
SUIT NO:  H1/04/2017


1. This is an appeal from the Judgment of the High Court Sunyani, delivered on 30th April 2015 and presided over by his Lordship Justice BERESFORD ACQUAH, J in which the Learned Justice dismissed with costs, an application by the applicant/appellant (hereinafter called appellant) to attach the respondents/respondents (hereinafter called respondents) for contempt of court. In the application for contempt in the court below, which was filed on 5th January, 2015, the appellant herein prayed the court “to commit the Respondents herein to prison custody together with punitive and exemplary fines for contempt of Court for intentionally showing gross disrespect and disdain to the COURT OF APPEAL in Kumasi”


2. The basis for this application was a civil action commenced by the appellant on 16/11/2009 against the respondents in suit number C1/28/2010 for among other reliefs, An ORDER of ejection of the defendants (respondents herein) from the rooms they currently occupy in house number D10/2, Sunyani to clear the premises for UNGENTLY NEEDED MAJOR structural repair works to be done to prevent the said building located on Plot No: D10/2, Sunyani from collapsing to kill innocent Ghanaians.”


In that suit, the appellant, claiming to be the landlord of a house H/N D10/2, SUNYANI, sued the respondents as indicated, who he also accused of refusing to attorn tenants to him. The respondents in that suit denied that the appellant was their landlord. At the commencement of that legal battle, the appellant secured an interim order to eject the respondents from the premises pending determination of their true relationship; to wit, whether the appellant was indeed the landlord of the respondents in respect of the house in question.


3. The respondents appealed against this Interlocutory Order. Following this appeal, the

Interlocutory Oder was set aside by the Court of Appeal, Kumasi, on 25th February 2011 in a short judgment which is reproduced below verbatim: see page 11 of the Record of Appeal (ROA).

“Appeal allowed. The ruling of the High Court dated 10-12-09 is hereby set aside. Alexander Andrews Kwame Ntow and Auntie Kaedabi alias Comfort Damoah be joined to the suit as Co-defendants. We further order that the status quo ante be maintained until final determination of the action. Cost of GH₵1,000.00 for the defendants/appellants against plaintiff/respondent”


4. The appellant’s understanding of the part of the Appeal Court judgment which ordered the maintenance of the status quo ante until the final determination of the action was what generated the application for contempt and this instant appeal therefrom. In his affidavit in support of the application for contempt, the appellant, claiming that the respondents incurred the liability under the statement to pay him rents, applied to the High Court to attach all the respondents for contempt of the Court of Appeal and commit them to prison since by their refusal to pay him rent, they have failed to maintain the status quo ante, and thereby disobeyed the Order of the Court of Appeal. He urged that “the respondents have by themselves altered the status quo ante from ‘RENT-PAYING TENANTS’ to ‘NON- RENT-PAYING TENANTS’ and have refused to pay any rent to the landlord for over FOUR (4) years”


5. The application was dismissed with costs against the appellant.

Aggrieved and dissatisfied, the appellant has appealed on three grounds, namely: -

a) The judgment is against the weight of evidence on record. b) The astronomical cost awarded against the APPLICANT/APPELLANT is most unfair and unjustifiable under the circumstances.

The trial judge erred by drawing wrong inferences that were not supported by the evidence on record.

b) Further Grounds of appeal shall be filed upon the receipt of the record of proceedings. No further grounds of appeal were subsequently filed.

The appellant argued the various grounds of appeal separately but we shall consider grounds a) and

c) together and ground b) on its own. Grounds

a) and c) of the appeal are as follows:


The judgment is against the weight of evidence on record and, The trial judge erred by drawing wrong inferences that were not supported by the evidence on record.


6. As is very well known per the directives of Rule 8 (1) of the Court of Appeal rules, 1997 C I 19 and supported by several authoritative decided cases, every appeal is by way of re-hearing. The case authorities inform us that when an appellant alleges that the judgment of a trial court was given against the weight of evidence, he is indicating that considering the totality of the evidence admitted, the trial court was not justified in arriving at judgment against the appellant. This then places a duty on the appellate court which was stated in TUAKWA v BOSOM (2001-2002) SCGLR 61 as follows:  it is incumbent upon an appellate court, in a civil case, to analyse the entire record of appeal, take into account the testimonies and all documentary evidence adduced at the trial before it arrives at its decision, so as to satisfy itself that, on a preponderance of the probabilities, the conclusions of the trial judge are reasonably or amply supported by the evidence”.


In the instant case, it was a summary trial. Evidence was only taken by means of affidavits. This court must therefore re-examine the affidavit evidence and compare it to the judgment to determine whether the trial court was justified in dismissing appellant’s application to commit all the respondents to prison for contempt of court.


7. In support of his application, appellant attached the under listed Documents to his affidavit; namely: -

·         EXHIBIT NANA 1 - A Lease Agreement dated 8th November, 2010 entered between the GOVERNMENT OF GHANA AND NANA ADJEI NTOW with respect to “ALL THAT Piece or parcel of land known as Plot No 10 Block ‘D’ in the Central Area Layout situate at Sunyani in the Sunyani Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region of the Republic of Ghana …” ( see pages 8 to 10 of the Record of Appeal).

·         EXHIBIT NANA 2 - The judgment of the Court of Appeal dated 25 -2 – 11 in respect of which the contempt application is based. (see page 11of the ROA).

·         EXHIBIT NANA 3 - A tenancy agreement made on 1/8/2005 between ALEXANDER ANDREWS NTOW AND FLORENCE LINDER. ( see Page 13 of the ROA). We note that the landlord therein is the appellant’s father and that the premises which formed the subject matter of that tenancy agreement does not appear in the said Tenancy Agreement and

·         EXHIBIT NANA 4 - Another tenancy agreement made on 1/8/2005 between ALEXANDER ANDREWS NTOW AND MISS NANA YAA NYAAKO in respect of plot no. 10 Block D, Central Area Section “2”, Sunyani. (see page 14 of the ROA). The landlord therein is not the appellant but rather his father.


8. The avowed aim of these annexures to the Affidavit in Support of the application for contempt was to demonstrate ownership over the premises in contention and also to show that the respondents were parties to the suit and that the Judgment was directed at them, but they disobeyed it. The tenancy agreements, EXHIBITS NANA 3 and 4 do not however help the appellant in this regard since he was not the landlord in the said tenancy agreements. The appellant also instituted the substantive action in his own right and not as a lawful attorney of his father; therefore on the face of the documents, he cannot claim their benefits for himself.


9. In their affidavit in opposition, the respondents alleged fraud on the part of the appellant.

They particularised it this way at paragraph 12 (i) of the Affidavit in Opposition of the 1st , 3rd and the 4th respondents found at pages 20, 25, and 30 of the ROA respectively: “Applicant fraudulently and dishonestly teamed up with officials of the Lands Commission to prepare Exhibit NANA 1 at a time when suit no. C1/28/2010 referred to in paragraph 4 in applicant’s affidavit was/is pending”. All the respondents’ affidavits in opposition were essentially the same in content. Each of them denied the applicant/appellant as their landlord. Rather, they said their landlords entered into an agreement with one King George Arthur. They annexed the following Exhibits: -

·         Exhibit A (see page 34 of the ROA) which was a Joint Building Project Agreement dated 30th April, 2003 between Nana Akua Kyeraa and Mr Alexander Kwame Ntow (father of the appellant) both of Mpeasem family of Berekum for themselves and on behalf of their immediate family (as landlord) and King George Arthur and his two children (as Co-owners) in respect of Plot No. 10 Block ‘D’ Central Area Sector 2, Sunyani. By this Exhibit A the respondents also demonstrated that they had tenancy agreements with Mpeasem family of Berekum, which subsequently put King George Arthur in charge of the premises under the agreement in the said Exhibit.

·         Exhibit B (see pages 36 and 37of the ROA) a Writ of Summons filed by the appellant on 16/11/2009 against the respondents in suit number C1/28/2010 and the amended Statement of Claim, in which the appellant claimed to be the landlord of the said plot no. D10/2.

·         Exhibit D at pages 40 to 46 of the ROA being a Writ issued on 15/12/2009 by Nana Osei Atta and four others against REV. NANA ADJEI NTOW (the appellant herein) AND ALEXANDER KWAME NTOW (the appellant’s father) as defendants in respect of the same premises in dispute. The five plaintiffs in that Writ described their respective capacities as follows: - 1st, the Chief of Mpeasem Royal Family; 2nd, the Head of Mpeasem Royal Family, and 3rd, 4th and 5th, Principal members of the said Royal Family. Their Statement of Claim described REV. NANA ADJEI NTOW as a resident of Sunyani and ALEXANDER KWAME NTOW as a member of the said Royal Family.


10. The main claim in that Writ was that the second defendant (appellant’s father) had colluded with the first defendant (the appellant herein) and purported to make a gift of the family property to the first defendant. The summary of the pieces of evidence showed that the respondents were put into the premises by the Mpeasem family. Though ALEXANDER KWAME NTOW was a member of the said family, whether or not he was within the class of people who could validly alienate the family’s property and whether REV. NANA ADJEI NTOW could thus validly claim through ALEXANDER KWAME NTOW his father were issues to be determined in that suit. The family issued this Writ to protect the family character of the property when they heard that the appellant had brought an action against the tenants for not paying rents to him. Whilst both Writs were pending before the same court, the Court of Appeal ordered the tenants and REV. NANA ADJEI NTOW to maintain the status quo ante in Suit no.C1/28/2010. REV. NANA ADJEI NTOW’s argument is that by that Court of Appeal Order, he became entitled to rents from the tenants and their failure to pay same makes them contemnors of the Court of Appeal.


11. After evaluating all the affidavit evidence and the supporting annexures in the Record of

Appeal, the main issues to be determined by this court in respect of Grounds a) and c) of the grounds of appeal are a determination of: -

·         The status quo ante of the parties in suit no C1/28/2010 and when it took effect;

·         Whether the respondents refused to maintain it after the Judgment of the Court of Appeal on 25th February 2011 and

·         Whether or not evidence of the said disobedience (if any) was adduced before the court below and yet it dismissed the application to attach the respondents for contempt of court.


12. What is the meaning of status quo ante? In the words of Brobbey in his book: THE LAW OF CHIEFTAINCY IN GHANA INCORPORATING CUSTOMARY ARBITRATION, CONTEMPT OF COURT AND JUDICIAL REVIEW at page 305, the learned Justice defined status quo ante thus: - “… the state of affairs or the position in which the parties were before the start of litigation or before the judgment or order was made.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY also defines status quo ante as the situation that existed before something else (being discussed) occurred. It simply means the parties’ respective positions before some event: contract, litigation, judgment etc. It deals with where the parties stood in relation to each other before the event in question.


13. The appellant may be right in describing the status or position of the respondents as rent- paying tenants since most tenants are supposed to pay rent to their landlords or nominees of their landlords. That may have their position before 16/11/2009 when he issued his Writ. He however failed to talk about his own position and how he related to the “rent-paying-tenants” on or before the said 16/11/2009. Was he a rent-receiving landlord? Did he receive rents from these rent-paying tenants in respect of the house? There was no evidence to show that he once received or ever received rents from the tenants. His own Statements of Claim clearly stated that they had refused to pay rents to him for four years past which coincided with the period his father purported to transfer the property to him by way of gift. Though he regarded himself as the landlord of the premises, the tenants regarded someone else as their landlord. They regarded King George Arthur who was put in charge of the place by the Mpeasem family as their landlord. That was their status quo ante. The tenants did not relate to him as landlord. The High Court was to determine whether that relationship should continue or it should be reversed. That was the crux of his complaint before the High Court. It is our considered view that the parties were ordered by the Court of Appeal to remain in this state of affairs till the final determination of their respective positions by the High Court.


14. With regard to the issue of contempt of court, the oft quoted speech of Oswald in his

CONTEMPT OF COURT (3RD ED.) is pertinent here. He states at p. 6 thus: "To speak generally, Contempt of Court may be said to be constituted by any conduct that tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or disregard, or to interfere with or prejudice parties litigants or their witnesses during the litigation." In the REPUBLIC v. DISTRICT COURT GRADE I, DUNKWA-ON-OFFIN; EX PARTE OWUSU [1991] 1 GLR 136 KPEGAH J (as he then was) sitting at  the  High  Court,  Cape  Coast,  put  contempt  of  court  into  two  categories  namely:  contempts committed in the face of the court during proceedings (in facie curiae); and contempts committed outside court (ex facie curiae). The instant case deals with contempt ex facie curiae.


15. To establish contempt (especially contempt ex facie curiae), the applicant must prove the three essential elements laid down by the Supreme Court in REPUBLIC V SITO 1; EX PARTE FORDJOUR (2001-2002) SCGLR 322 at 337 of the report as follows:

a. There must be a judgment or order requiring the contemnor to do or abstain from doing something;

b. It must be shown that the contemnor knows what precisely he is expected to do or abstain from doing; and

c. It must be shown that he failed to comply with the terms of the judgment or order and that his disobedience is wilful.

Indeed, the order must be definite, clear and as precise in its terms as possible, so that there may be no reason or excuse for misunderstanding or disobeying it. None of these elements has been proved by the appellant against the respondents in the instant case. See the case of LUGUTERAH v. NORTHERN ENGINEERING CO., LTD AND OTHERS [1980] GLR 62-70 where the Court found that the conduct of the respondents and their legal adviser constituted contempt of court because it was calculated to bring the administration of the law into disregard or disrespect. However, the Court did not punish them for contempt because there was no proof that the contempt was wilful in the sense of not having been accidental and unintentional. Also see the case of REPUBLIC v MENSA- BONSU AND OTHERS; EX PARTE ATTORNEY-GENERAL [1995-96] 1 GLR 377 – 531.


16. An examination of the Writ in suit number C1/28/2010 which is the foundation of the application for contempt reveals that the reliefs the appellant claimed were ejection of the respondents and costs. He never claimed for payment of rent. The interim order that he secured at the High Court was to eject the respondents and nothing more. This interim order was set aside by the Court of Appeal on 25 – 2 – 11 which also ordered the status quo ante to be maintained. The respondents therefore cannot be guilty of disobeying a relief that was not claimed and not pronounced upon by the court.


17. As analysed above, no evidence was led to show that the respondents failed to maintain the status quo ante as properly defined and ascertained. All the exhibits attached clearly support the fact that the respondents have been consistent in maintaining the status quo of the parties before the litigation which the appellant commenced on 16/11/2009.


Grounds a) and c) of the grounds of appeal have definitely not been made out. They are consequently dismissed.


18. We now turn to ground b) on the issue of the costs awarded against him by the learned High Court Judge. At page 90 of the Record of Appeal, the learned judge said, “there will be cost of GH₵5,000.00 each to the respondents against the applicant”. The appellant’s beef against the costs awarded against him is that the costs are astronomical, most unfair and unjustifiable under the circumstances. Hear his lamentation at page 8 of his Written Submission where he set out a seven line argument against the costs awarded: -

“MY LORDS, by any standard the cost of twenty thousand Ghana cedis (GH₵20,000.00) which is two hundred million old cedis (₵200,000,000.00) against the appellant is excessively harsh and prejudicial. It also proves that the learned trial judge exercise discretion in the award of cost wrongfully. With respect to the learned trial judge he failed to consider the current economic difficulties in Ghana. For this reason I pray that the costs be set aside”


The learned trial judge awarded GH₵5000.00 in favour of each of the four respondents. That certainly adds up to twenty thousand Ghana cedis (GH₵20,000.00) and this actually translates to two hundred million old cedis (₵200,000,000.00).


19. It will be pertinent to examine the factors that go into the award of costs to determine the appropriateness or otherwise of the costs awarded by the learned trial Judge. Under Order 74 Rule 1 (1) of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004, C I 47 the award of cost is a discretionary power available to the court “and the Court shall have full power to determine by whom and to what extent the costs are to be paid”.


The other relevant portions of Order 74 are quoted herein below.

“2. (1) The amount of costs to be awarded shall be assessed by the Court.

(2) Before any assessment, the parties or their lawyers may briefly address the Court on the question of costs.

(3) Without prejudice to the powers and discretion of the Court, an award of costs shall ordinarily be designed to

(a) compensate for expenses reasonably incurred and court fees paid by the party in whose favour the award is made; and

(b) provide reasonable remuneration for the lawyer of that party in respect of work done by the lawyer

(4) In assessing the amount of costs to be awarded to any party, the Court may have regard to

(a) the amount of expenses, including travel expenses, reasonably incurred by that party or that party's lawyer or both in relation to the proceedings;

(b) the amount of court fees paid by that party or that party's lawyer in relation to the proceedings;

(c) the length and complexity of the proceedings;

(d) the conduct of the parties and their lawyers during the proceedings; and

(e) any previous order as to costs made in the proceedings.”


19. The Court uses this power to compensate the victorious party for expenses incurred in the litigation but is guided by some principles as stipulated in Order 74 (4). The case of SOLOMON NTRAKWA v. G.P.R.T.U. [17/2/00], C. A. NO. 83/99 enunciates the general principle for the award of costs as being at the discretion of the trial judge. The discretion should however be exercised judicially, having regard to the amount of work put in the preparation and conduct of the case as well as the time taken by the court and the parties in completing the trial. Again, in GUARDIAN ASSURANCE CO., LTD. v. AGBEMATU [1972] 2 GLR 337, the Court of appeal tells us per holding 2 that the court has a discretion to award costs, but that the discretion should always be exercised judicially, that is, according to reason and justice and not according to sentiment and sensibility, and that an appellate court should be slow in interfering with that discretion when it is properly exercised. The appellate court may however interfere where the costs are manifestly excessive. Was that the case in the instant appeal?


20. In the instant case, the appellant brought each of the four respondents to court to be cited for contempt. His failure to appreciate the Order of the Court of Appeal and the tenuous self-imposed interpretation that he assigned to the Order resulted in that application. It was simply unnecessary and indeed vexatious. They were severally sued. Each of them consulted counsel (though the same person) and filed a separate affidavits in opposition. We are however of the view that the costs of GH₵5000.00 awarded to each of the respondents is manifestly excessive. This Court therefore reviews the said costs by setting aside the GH₵5000.00 to each of the respondents and in place thereof awards GH₵2000.00 to each of the respondents.


Ground b) of the grounds of appeal is partially allowed.

21. Two of the three grounds of appeal have not survived the scrutiny of factual and legal analysis. The third has been partially allowed. The appeal is dismissed subject to the variation in the costs as indicated. The Judgement of the court below dated 30th April 2015 is therefore affirmed subject to the variation of the costs herein.


Angelina M. Domakyaareh (Mrs)




E. K. Ayebi JA                                 I agree                     E. K. Ayebi




G. Torkornoo (Mrs) JA                   I agree                 G. Torkornoo (Mrs)

                                                                                   (JUSTICE OF APPEAL)