IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
ACCRA - A.D 2018
CHINA SHANDON INTERNATIONAL LTD - (Appellant)
MRS. VIVIAN ACHEAMPONG AND NANA SERWAAH ACHEAMPONG-(Respondent)
DATE: 13TH DECEMBER, 2018
CIVIL APPEAL NO: H1/196/2018
JUDGES: AGNES M. A. DORDZIE (MRS.), J.A. (AS SHE THEN WAS) (PRESIDING), F.G. KORBIEH J.A., I.O.TANKO AMADU J.A
OPOKU AMPONSAH FOR THE APPELLANT
HUMPHEREY MODZAKAH RESPONDENTS
F.G. KORBIEH, J.A.
We deem it absolutely necessary to preface this judge with the following comments. This appeal was heard on the 24/7/2018 and adjourned to last week for judgment. It was for unavoidable reasons that we could not sit last week and therefore had to adjourn the delivery of the judgment to today. It was noted by the panel at the hearing of the appeal that only the appellant had filed its written submissions and that the said written submissions had been duly served on the respondents through counsel for the respondents. Since the respondents had failed to file an Answer within the stipulated time as prescribed by the Rules of Court, we proceeded to hear the appeal and accordingly adjourned it for judgment.
Only a week or so to the return date for judgment, we received copies of the respondents’ written submissions filed purportedly on the basis of leave granted by a panel of the Court of Appeal (differently constituted) which had heard an application for leave for extension of time to file written submissions. The said application had been filed on the 23/7/2018 (the eve of the hearing of the appeal) and fixed for hearing on the 22/10/2018. On the return date the application was granted and the respondents/applicants purported to file their written submission on the 8/11/2018 copies of which were given to members of the panel on the 26/11/2018.
Ordinarily there is nothing wrong with a party applying for extension of time within which to file one process or the other but the law is clear that a party seeking an equitable relief such as an extension of time must be candid and forthright with the Court in the supporting affidavit. In the applicants’ supporting affidavit in this case, even though they were very well aware that the case had been set down for hearing of the appeal on the 24/7/2018, they failed to disclose this very relevant fact to that Court. This would have put the Court on its guard to find out whether or not the appeal had already been heard since if it had been heard, granting the leave to file out of time would be an exercise in futility. Granting leave to file out of time is an equitable relief and as we all know, equity does nothing in vain. As it turned out, the appeal was heard the very next day after the motion was filed and adjourned for judgment. We could not have and did not therefore take account of the respondents’ written submissions which, to all intents and purposes, were filed out of time and were considered and treated by this panel as such.
Be that as it may. This appeal emanates from the ruling of an Accra High Court dated 5/12/2017 wherein the defendant/respondent/appellant (hereinafter only referred to as the appellant) was injuncted from entering or proceeding with its construction works on the disputed land pending trial. The appellant therefore filed a notice of appeal against the order of interlocutory injunction on the following grounds:
The ruling is against the weight of evidence.
The Court erred in relying on the allegation of fraud alleged by the plaintiffs/respondents in their affidavit in support of the application for interlocutory injunction against the defendant/appellant when the alleged fraud is against third parties who are not parties to the suit and same have not even been particularized as required by law.
The Court erred when it failed to determine that the balance of convenience weighed strongly in favour of the defendant/appellant.
The Court erred in law and on the facts by failing to appreciate that the plaintiffs/respondents have no legal and/or equitable title to the land which is worthy of protection by an order of interlocutory injunction in their favour.
Additional grounds of appeal may be filed upon receipt of the record of appeal.
The relief sought by the appellant was that the ruling of the trial High Court should be set aside. We have to put on record that by the date of the hearing of the appeal, no additional ground had been filed. The appeal was therefore heard on the basis of the four original grounds of appeal only. We may also add that only the appellant filed its written submissions.
The gist of the facts leading to the appeal are as follows. The respondents aver that they are the wife and daughter respectively of the late Gen. I.K. Acheampong, former head of state of Ghana. They sued the appellant in the trial High Court for three reliefs, namely
i) recovery of possession of a plot of land located at the South Airport Residential Area, Accra,
ii) damages for trespass and
iii) perpetual injunction (among other reliefs the court might deem fit and appropriate in the circumstances). In a rather terse statement of claim, the respondents averred that they were the joint and several owners of the 3.68 acre or 1.49 hectare land in dispute and that the appellant had trespassed on the said land and therefore they (the respondents) had suffered and continued to suffer loss and damage. It was for that reason the respondents were claiming the reliefs endorsed on their writ of summons. The defendant filed a conditional appearance on the 22/11/2016 but proceeded to file a statement of defence and counterclaim on the 6/12/2016.
In the said process, the appellant averred among other things as follows.
1) It had acquired the land in dispute from Rivonia Ghana Limited (formerly Ebeling Limited) and a deed of assignment executed in its favour. Since the land was government land, the necessary written consent had been obtained from the Lands Commission prior to the assignment.
2) The appellant had done the requisite search and nowhere did the respondents’ names come up as having an interest in the land. The appellant subsequently acquired a Land Certificate and then took possession of the land.
3) In the unlikely event that the respondents have a subsisting interest in the land, the appellant maintained that it was an innocent purchaser for value without notice. The appellant then counterclaimed for a declaration of title to a piece or plot of land measuring 0.78 hectare or 1.91 acre whose size it described in detail.
There appears to have been a lull in proceedings until 6/6/2017 when the appellant filed an application for final judgment in default of defence to counterclaim. On the 19/6/2017 the respondents filed a defence to counterclaim in which they averred, among other things, as follows:
1) “the defendant failed to do due diligence in its pre-purchase searches which have disclosed gargantuan fraud and collision on the part of Land Commission staff and the prior purported purchase (High Court Judge, the defunct Ghana Airways in 20th August 2015, Embeling Ltd. a.k.a. Rioviona Ltd.) of the land in dispute” (sic) and
2) the respondents maintained that they have an interest in the land in dispute. On the same 19/6/2017, the respondents also filed an affidavit in opposition to the appellant’s motion for judgment in default of defence to counterclaim.
In that affidavit, the 1st respondent deposed to the following, amongst others:
a) that “In or about 1975 the Lands Commission, acting as Government Estate Agent, prepared Conveyances of separate parcels of Land at the Airport Residential Area, Accra in favour of the Late Gen. I.K. Acheampong and Col. Hutuka, were duly process by the Lands Commission living the plotting of the relevant parcels of Lands prior to Registration thereof.”(sic);
b) that after recovering from the shock she had suffered from due to the execution of her late husband, Gen. I.K. Acheampong, she started looking for his moveable and immoveable property at the Lands Commission and discovered to her surprise that the land that had been conveyed to her husband now stood in the name of a High Court judge “who upon learning that her ostensible purchase of Gen. Acheampong’s property was irregular and under misleading misrepresentations by Rosemond Annan, the responsible Officer of the Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission.”
c) that subsequently Rosemond Annan told the 1st respondent that there had been a fire out-break which destroyed the documents but she had caused a search to be made on the 15/10/2012 which revealed a lodgment that Gen. Acheampong’s conveyance No. 00147/2011dated 7/2/2011 had been falsely plotted by the Lands Commission in the name of Embeling Ltd. (also known as Rioviona Ltd.) who had bought Acheampong’s land from Ghana Airways;
d) that she was advised and she believed the same to be true that the appellant’s purported purchase of the land in dispute which is part of Gen. Acheampong’s conveyance was the result of fraud and collision on the part of the Greater Accra Lands Commission Staff (including Rosemond Annan) on the one hand and Embeling Ltd. aka Rioviona Ltd.;
e) that since the appellant did not do any due diligence before its purported purchase of the disputed land, it could not be an innocent purchaser for value without notice and therefore its title was not indefeasible. On the 23/10/2017, the respondents, who had effected a change of solicitor, filed an application for directions and on the same day filed an application for an order of interlocutory injunction in which they prayed the court to restrain the appellant, whether by itself, its servants, agents, assigns, workmen, privies, “whomsoever or otherwise howsoever from interfering with the land in dispute until the final determination of the substantive suit.”
In the supporting affidavit accompanying the motion paper, the 1st respondent, deposed, inter alia, to the following:
a) that the falsehoods put out by the Lands Commission concerning the processing of the late Ge. Acheampong’s conveyance included a curious one that the land that had been conveyed to her husband now stood in the name of a High Court judge who upon learning that her ostensible purchase of Gen. Acheampong’s property was irregular and under misleading quickly sold her purchase of Gen. Acheampong’s land to Embeling aka Rioviona Ltd. and on or about 20/8/2015, the Deed of Assignment re-designated in the Lands Commission the same day as LVDGAST59332015 to the appellant herein.
b) that the purported purchase of the land in dispute which was part of the late Gen. Acheampong’s conveyance was a result of fraud and collision between staff of the greater Accra Regional Lands Commission (including Rosemond Annan) on the one hand and Embeling Ltd aka Rioviona Ltd.
c) That the appellant had engaged many workers and they were busy working day and night doing construction work on the land.
d) That there was a very urgent need to stop the appellant and/or its workmen trespassing on the land so as to maintain the status quo ante as damages would not be adequate remedy for the respondents’ losses.
To this affidavit, the respondents attached two photographs and a search result that indicated that the land in dispute was state land and had been leased to Mrs. Justice Helena Inkumsah-Abban for a fifty-year term commencing on the 1/10/2009; the said lessee had in turn assigned her unexpired interest in the plot to Embeling Ltd. commencing on the 25/1/2010. These were marked as exhibits “MA1”. “MA2” and “MA3” respectively. But also attached to the affidavit was a site plan of the land in dispute designated as “Plan of Land: Vivian Adu Acheampong” which is dated 28/5/2011. (See page 35 of the ROA) This was unmarked and was not referred to in the certificate of exhibits on page 36 of the ROA. This is significant in view of the fact that in the opening remarks of the “Statement of Case” by counsel for the plaintiff/applicant/respondent, he stated that the former would “rely entirely on all the processes filed on their behalf” and the proceeded to submit that there was “the need to preserve the status quo”.
Counsel also argued about the need to look at the balance of convenience but curiously contended that “when we consider the balance of convenience it tilts heavily against the Plaintiff, especially having regard to the fact that the Defendant and others have engaged the services of many workmen and they are constructing day and night on the land in dispute.” We believe the clause “it tilts heavily against the Plaintiff” was probably not intended to read as such as the sentence would be self-contradictory. Before then however, counsel had argued that the plaintiffs’ case was not frivolous and vexatious and hence was maintainable before the law. In opposing the application for interlocutory injunction, the appellant, through its PRO, one Jin Shujie, deposed as follows, amongst others:
1) that the land was government land and in both their pleadings and the affidavit in support of the present application, the respondents had not demonstrated the least compliance with the procedure for acquiring government land;
2) that the appellant had traced its root of title to previous owners who acquired the land through proper procedure and to these depositions were attached various exhibits;
3) that the appellant had been in possession of the land since August, 2015
4) that it had acquired both legal and equitable titles to the land in dispute;
5) that the respondents stood to lose nothing if the application was refused since they not demonstrated any legal or equitable title to the land.
In his state of case, counsel for the appellant had acknowledged the fact that an order of interlocutory injunction was a discretionary matter for the judge before whom the application was brought but went on to cite the case of Owusu v. Owusu Ansah [2007-2008] SCGLR 870 at page 873 where Adininyirah, JSC said that:
“It is trite law that the granting or refusal of an injunction is at the discretion of the trial court, but that discretion has to be exercised judiciously. In the exercise of such discretion, the trial judge ought to take into consideration the pleadings and the affidavit evidence before it.”
Counsel had also pressed into service the case of Food Specialities Ghana Ltd. v. Technicas De Multiconstruction SA (1987-88) GLR 25 wherein the Supreme Court held that:
“One of the factors which the court had to take into consideration when called upon for an interim order to preserve the status quo was whether or not the plaintiff’s claim, on the facts, was maintainable. The court had absolute discretion either to grant or refuse an interim injunction, and it would not grant the remedy where it was of the opinion that the action was frivolous and vexatious.”
Counsel had therefore pleaded with the trial court that on the bases of both the facts and the applicable law, the application should be refused. It is rather interesting and curious that even after both counsel had submitted their statements of case, the respondents could still file a supplementary affidavit in support of their application. In that affidavit, again deposed to by the 1st respondent, it was deposed, amongst other things as follows:
1) that photocopies of petitions the 1st respondent had sent to the Lands Commission and some responses to them were attached as exhibits;
2) that in December 2008 her late husband’s properties were de-confiscated.
The appellant filed a supplementary affidavit in opposition and responded as follows (in summary):
1) that the respondents had failed to demonstrate that they had the necessary locus standi to sue in this matter;
2) the respondents had failed to produce a single document showing that the late Gen. Acheampong ever owned the land in dispute or any part of it;
3) that the respondents’ exhibit MA 9 clearly demonstrated that the appellant had an indefeasible title to the land in dispute;
4) that the respondents made allegations of fraud against an officer of the Lands Commission and yet the Lands Commission was not made a party to the suit and nowhere in the writ of summons or the statement of claim did the respondents plead fraud against the Lands Commission;
In his ruling, the learned trial judge granted the application, saying that even though fraud had not been pleaded, the court could deal with it once it was revealed in the proceedings. We will deal with the details later in this judgment. On the basis of that reasoning the learned trial judge granted the application and ordered that the construction work going on on the land must cease pending the final determination of the suit.
In arguing the appeal for the appellants, counsel for the appellants chose to deal with the grounds of appeal seriatim. He therefore started with ground
(a) which is the omnibus ground that the ruling is against the weight of the evidence. A summary of the arguments of counsel on this ground is that as opposed to the bare allegations made by the respondents, almost all of the documentary evidence tendered, even by the respondents themselves, clearly demonstrated that the land in dispute never belonged to the late Gen. Acheampong but rather to the predecessors-in-title of the appellant. He next argued ground
(b) which was couched as follows: the Court erred in relying on the allegation of fraud alleged by the plaintiffs/respondents in their affidavit in support of the application for interlocutory injunction against the defendant/appellant when the alleged fraud is against third parties who are not parties to the suit and same have not even been particularized as required by law. Counsel contended that the plaintiffs failed to plead fraud much less particularize it as demanded by law nor seek any reliefs regarding the same and that the only time they mentioned fraud was in their defence to the appellant’s counter-claim when, in paragraph 3 thereof, they accused the appellant of not doing due diligence which would have disclosed ‘“gargantuan fraud and collision on the part of Lands Commission staff, and the prior purported purchase (High Court Judge, the Defunct Ghana Airways in (sic) 20th August, 2015, Embeling Limited a.k.a. Riviona Limited of the land in dispute”’. Counsel therefore argued that the trial judge erred to have grounded the order of injunction on the mere allegation of fraud made against third parties. Ground
(c) was argued next. It is framed as follows: the Court erred when it failed to determine that the balance of convenience weighed strongly in favour of the defendant/appellant. On this ground, it was argued by counsel that apart from fact that the respondents had failed to demonstrate any serious ownership of the land in dispute, all the averments clearly showed that the balance of inconvenience tilted in favour of the appellant by virtue of the fact it was already in possession and had all those workmen and machinery in place and work was in progress. The last and final ground was ground
(d) which was couched as follows: the Court erred in law and on the facts by failing to appreciate that the plaintiffs/respondents have no legal and/or equitable title to the land which is worthy of protection by an order of interlocutory injunction in their favour. Counsel again cited the case of Owusu v. Owusu Ansah (supra) and contended that the respondents did not disclose any root of title of the late Gen. Acheampong except the bare assertion that the land belonged to him. On the other hand, the appellant traced its root of title to the Lands Commission and since the land is state land the appellant had a better claim than the respondents.
On our part, we must concede straight away that all of the arguments put up by counsel for the appellant are legally tenable arguments to convince us why the trial judge should not have granted the application. Rather unfortunately, as at the date we were hearing this appeal, the respondents had failed to file any written submission by way of Answer to the appellant’s written submission; we therefore did not have the benefit of any arguments to counter those put up by the appellant and its counsel. Be that as it may. We intend to commence our analysis of the grounds of appeal with the issue of the capacity of the respondents. In the case on hand there are two things that the respondents failed to demonstrate in their pleadings that are crucial to any successful outcome of a case for a plaintiff. In the first place, the simple plea that the respondents are the wife and daughter respectively of the late Gen. Acheampong was not sufficient to clothe them with the necessary capacity to mount this action. They had an inescapable legal duty to demonstrate that they had the locus standi to prosecute the action. Under Order 2 rule 4 of C.I. 47, a plaintiff must indorse his writ with the capacity in which he is suing otherwise the writ is defective. In the recent case of Dominion Corporate Trustees Ltd. v. National Investment Bank and Others (unreported: Supreme Court Civil Appeal Case No. J4/63/2016 dated 21/6/2016), the Supreme Court, speaking through Benin, JSC said as follows:
“A person’s capacity to sue, whether under a statute or rule of practice, must be found to be present and valid before the issuance of the writ of summons, else the writ will be declared a nullity… Capacity to sue is a very crucial component of any civil litigation without which the plaintiff cannot maintain any claim…It must be emphasized that the capacity to sue must be present before the writ is issued; such authority must appear in the endorsement and/or the statement of claim accompanying the writ; it cannot be acquired whilst the case is pending; and an amendment cannot be sought to introduce it for the first time. A writ that does not meet the requirements of capacity is null and void…It is to be stressed that the provisions of Order 2 rule 4(2) of C.I. 47 are obligatory, and it is not one of those provisions which the court is permitted by Order 81 to waive for non-compliance.”
So even if the appellant did not challenge the respondents’ capacity, the trial court could raise the issue of capacity suo moto since it was a legal point. (See the Supreme Court case of Rockson v Ilios Shipping Company SA and Another [2010-12] 1 GLR 141) In any case, the appellant has raised the issue of capacity before us and we think it is very much on point. It is trite that an appeal is by way of re-hearing and whatever the trial judge had the power to do, we can also do. It is therefore legitimate for us to use whatever evidence there is on the record to make a determination of the issues making up the appeal before us. On the face of it, the writ of the respondents was defective in so far as it did not disclose the capacity of the respondents. It goes without saying that a void writ cannot ground any proceedings much less sustain those proceedings. On that score alone, the respondents could not have maintained their action.
We will next tackle ground (b), the ground alleging that the Court erred in relying on the allegation of fraud. This is how the learned trial judge put it:
“Even though not specifically pleaded the defendant alleges fraud. When fraud is revealed in proceedings before a court it is entitled to deal with it. Fraud visciates (sic) everything founded on it and could include the Land Certificate relied on by the defendant. The reason for the plaintiffs’ non production of any title deeds seems to be satisfactorily explain (sic) by plaintiffs and that it is the officials of the Lands Commission who caused the documents to vanish from the records of the commission.”
It was argued by counsel for the appellant that since the respondents did not plead fraud much less particularize it, the trial judge was wrong to have based his ruling on the allegation of fraud. This calls for a detailed investigation into the procedure for pleading and subsequently proving fraud. It is provided in Order 11 rule 12(1) of C.I. 47 as follows:
“(1) Subject to subrule (2), every pleading shall contain the necessary particulars of any claim, defence or other matter pleaded including, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing words,
(a) particulars of any misrepresentation, fraud, breach of trust, wilfil default or undue influence on which the party pleading relies; and…”
Right from the word go therefore, it was necessary for the respondents to have pleaded fraud and also given particulars of the fraud they were alleging against the appellants or their predecessors-in-title. In truth, the respondents pleaded “gargantuan fraud and collision” in their defence to counterclaim filed on the 19/6/2017. The interesting thing is that this averment of fraud, apart from the fact that its particulars were not given, was levelled against staff of the Lands Commission. It might be useful to re-produce the whole of the sentence that was used in the respondents’ particular pleading. It was couched as follows: “the defendant failed to do due diligence in its pre-purchase searches which have disclosed gargantuan fraud and collision on the part of Land Commission staff and the prior purported purchase
(High Court Judge, the defunct Ghana Airways in 20th August 2015, Embeling Ltd. a.k.a. Rioviona Ltd.) of the land in dispute”. (It will be noticed that we have already quoted this statement above.) It is unclear to us whether the respondents were alleging fraud against the Lands Commission staff only or against the High Court Judge, the defunct Ghana Airways and Embeling Ltd. a.k.a. Rioviona Ltd. as well. Whatever the case, fraud did not feature as an issue to be tried in the issues set out by the respondents themselves for trial. So, it was very unlikely that the respondents would have been allowed to lead any evidence on the issue of fraud. It would have been in breach of the rule against departure. (See rule 10 of Order 11 of C.I. 47) And even if they did, what would have been the weight of that evidence? Besides, as counsel for the appellant pointed out, the Lands Commission was not a party to the suit, so against whom would the evidence of fraud be led? In other words, was an action in fraud maintainable by the respondents against the appellants? We do not think so. In the two Supreme Court cases, Owusu v. Owusu Ansah (supra) and Food Specialities Ghana Ltd. v. Technicas De Multiconstruction SA (supra), although it was made clear that the granting or refusal of an application for interlocutory injunction was discretionary, the use of the discretion was subject to the presence of certain judicial conditions such as the plaintiff being able to demonstrate in his pleadings that he could maintain the action against the defendant. In the case on hand the application was granted on the basis that there was an allegation of fraud but in our considered opinion this allegation of fraud was not even leveled against the appellant or its predecessor-in-title.
The real allegation was that the late Gen. Acheampong’s title document had been removed from the records of the Lands Commission by Rosemond Annan. From the record, Rosemond Annan was cleared of this allegation. In responding to a petition sent by the 1st respondent to the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, the Technical Director (Lands) at the Ministry stated that investigations had revealed Mrs. Rose Annan did not have in her custody any file or document in the name of Gen. Acheampong. (See exhibit MA5 on page 67 of the ROA). The record also indicated that the property had once belonged to the defunct Ghana Airways before it was acquired by Mrs. Justice Inkumsah-Abban in 2009. (See exhibit MA5 on page 67 of the ROA.) The impression sought to be created by the respondents in paragraph 3 of their defence to counterclaim that there was collision between staff of the Lands Commission and Mrs. Justice Inkumsah-Abban (from whom the appellant traces its title) is completely misleading. The evidence on the record shows that Mrs. Justice Inkumsah-Abban acquired title to the land only after Ghana Airways went into liquidation which was long after Rose Annan allegedly removed Gen. Acheampong’s documents from the records of the Lands Commission. In exhibit MA6 on page 68 of the ROA, the 1st respondent confirmed herself that Ghana Airways Ltd. used to occupy the land (which must have been before Mrs. Inkumsah-Abban acquired it). This is what she wrote:
“It would interest you to know that in 1975 the government of the SMC signed decree of the in-filling policy that was how come Gen. I. K. Acheampong and General Utuka came to own those parcels of Lands within the Hausa Reserve which was later occupied by Ghana Airways Limited.” (emphasis supplied)
As pointed out by counsel for the appellant, the learned trial judge appeared to have been indulging in speculation or conjecture when he surmised that the reason for the plaintiffs’ non-production of any title deeds seemed to be satisfactorily explained by respondents (plaintiffs) and that it was the officials of the Lands Commission who caused the documents to vanish from the records of the Commission. As we have just pointed out, the respondents themselves provided evidence (in exhibit MA5) that exonerated the very person they had accused of removing Gen. Acheampong’s title documents from the Lands Commission. So how else were they going to prove their accusation of fraud? If the learned trial judge had been more careful in analyzing the evidence before him, he would probably not have come to the conclusion that there was any case of fraud before him that needed to be investigated; hence he would not have granted the order of interlocutory injunction based on the allegation of fraud. We therefore allow ground (b) of the appeal.
We will also deal with ground (c) of the appeal. This ground deals with the issue of the balance of convenience. We will start again by re-echoing the legal position that the trial judge had a discretion to grant or not to grant the application but we will again hasten to add that he had to act judiciously in taking the decision to act either way. When it comes to the principle of the balance of convenience, especially regarding immovable property, the legal rule of thump is that, as much as possible, the character of the property must be maintained, pending the determination of the suit. However, the applicant must show that he has a modicum of title to the land and that his action is not frivolous and vexatious. In Welford Quarcoo v. Attorney-General  1 SCGLR 259, Date-Bah, JSC said this about the grant of an interlocutory injunction:
“It has always been my understanding that the requirements for the grant of an interlocutory injunction are: first, that the applicant must establish that there is a serious question to be tried; secondly, that he or she would suffer irreparable damage which cannot be remedied by the award of damages, unless the interlocutory injunction is granted; and finally that the balance of convenience is in favour of granting him or her the interlocutory injunction. The balance of convenience, of course, means weighing up the disadvantages of granting the relief against the disadvantages of not granting the relief.”
As opposed to the bare assertion of the respondents, the appellants pleaded numerous documents that demonstrated their root of title including a Land Certificate. And to top it all, they and their predecessors-in-title had been in peaceful and lawful possession of the land in dispute since 2009. The respondents had never been in possession and could not show a single document of title. There was no amount of due diligence that the appellant or its predecessor-in-title could have done that could have revealed that the land ever belonged to the late Gen. Acheampong. Any due diligence that a prospective buyer of land is expected to do is to do a search which is what the appellant did. The search results did not show that the land belonged to Gen. I.K. Acheampong since there was not a single document in the records of the Lands Commission to that effect. So, the appellant could not have done more than what it did. We therefore hold that the appellant’s plea that at worst it was on the land as an innocent purchaser for value without notice was valid and deserved more sympathetic consideration than it received from the learned trial judge. Accordingly, we will also uphold ground (c) of the appeal.
It will be recalled that we started our analysis by saying that the arguments put up by counsel for the appellants for all the grounds were legally tenable. Having upheld two specific grounds, we deem it unnecessary to go into the specifics of the other two grounds. We therefore hereby uphold the whole of the appeal and accordingly set aside the order of the trial High Court dated 5/12/2017. For the avoidance of any doubt, the order of injunction dated 5/12/2017 is hereby discharged.
FRANCIS G. KORBIEH
(JUSTICE OF APPEAL)
A. M. A. DORDZIE (MRS.), J.A., I AGREE AGNES M. A. DORDZIE (MRS.)
(JUSTICE OF APPEAL)
I. O. TANKO AMADU, J.A., I ALSO AGREE I. O. TANKO AMADU
(JUSTICE OF APPEAL)