IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
CAPE COAST - A.D 2018
KWAMINA KORSAH - (Plaintiff/Appellant)
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL & 2 OTHERS - (Defendants/Respondents)
DATE: 16 TH JANUARY, 2018
CIVIL APPEAL NO: H1/49/2017
JUDGES: IRENE CHARITY LARBI MRS. J.A (PRESIDING), L. L. MENSAH (J.A), ANGELINA M. DOMAKYAAREH MRS. ( J.A)
GUSTAV ADDINGTON ESQ. - (FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT)
VINCENT NYINAKU ESQ. SENIOR STATE ATTORNEY WITH HIM NANA AISHA
SALIFU ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY - (FOR THE DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT)
IRENE CHARITY LARBI (MRS) J.A.
This is an appeal against the judgment delivered by the High Court, Cape-Coast on 9th June, 2015.
It is pertinent that we give brief facts of the case for a better appreciation of this appeal.
The Appellant is a farmer who is ordinarily resident at Assin Kwaataa near Assin Fosu. He is the Krontihene of the town. The 1st Respondent is the Government’s Legal Adviser whilst the 2nd and 3rd Respondent i.e. the Ministry of Agriculture and State Oil Palm Plantation respectively are state institutions. Sometime in 1991 the Appellant instituted an action entitled “KWAMINA KORSAH VRS. STATE OIL PALM PLANTATION & ANOR. (SUIT NO./LS 46/91)” against the 2nd and 3rd Respondents for an order compelling the Defendants to pay compensation for himself and on behalf of some farmers whose crops were destroyed by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants sometime in 1975 to pave way for the cultivation of an Oil Palm Plantation at Assin Kwaataa.
On 25th October, 1994, the Court presided by Justice G.M. Quaye J. (as he then was) delivered judgment in favour of the Plaintiff and ordered that the matter be sent to Arbitration for determination of the quantum to be paid to the Plaintiffs.
The Arbitration recommended that the affected farmers be paid compensation in the sum of ₡427,153,308.72. On 30th May, 2003, Justice Nana Gyamera-Tawiah J. entered judgment in favour of the Plaintiffs as follows:-
“Judgment is entered in favour of the Plaintiffs in the sum of ₡427,153,308.78 together with bank rate interest with effect from the date JUSTICE G.M. QUAYE entered judgment; and ordered that the matter be sent to Arbitration for determination of quantum to be paid to Plaintiffs – i.e. 25th October 1994. The said sum of ₡427,153,308.78 is the amount determined by the Arbitration.
I award Plaintiffs costs of ₡10,000,000.00”.
On the basis of the ruling supra, the Plaintiffs filed a judgment after Trial on 22/7/2005 which showed the Defendants indebtedness to be ₡1, 708, 063, 453, 11 inclusive of interest.
Upon service of the judgment after trial on them, the Defendants caused their counsel to apply to the court for an order to set aside the award of interest. The application was filed on 29th March, 2001. After hearing the parties, the court on 24th June, 2004 per Justice Nana Gyamera-Tawiah J. refused to set aside the interest but varied the date from which the computation of interest was to commence as follows:-
“I accordingly review the judgment I delivered on 30th May, 2003 as follows:
Judgment is entered in favour of Plaintiffs in the sum of ₡427,153,308.78 together with bank rate interest with effect from 1st August 1997 to the date of this ruling. The said amount was arrived in 1997 by the Arbitrators after considering the value of the land as at 1997.
I award costs of ₡10 million”.
Thereafter, the Plaintiffs filed an Amended Judgment After Trial based on the orders made by the court which reduced the judgment debt to ₡1,435,844,693.76 inclusive of interest.
Upon service of the Amended Entry of Judgment After Trial on them, the Defendants on 7th September, 2004 filed an appeal against the ruling dated 24th June, 2004. Subsequent thereto, the Defendants filed a Motion on Notice for an order for stay of execution of the said judgment. The application for stay of execution was granted on 30th November, 2004.
It is premised on the facts recounted supra that the Plaintiff instituted this instant action against the Defendants jointly and severally for the following reliefs:-
1. A declaration that the ruling delivered by the Cape-Coast High Court as constituted by Justice Nana Gyamera-Tawiah on 24th June, 2004 is a post-judgment ruling.
2. A declaration that the process captioned Notice of Appeal and filed by the Defendants at the Registry of the Cape-Coast High Court on 7th September is a nullity as it was filed out of time.
3. An order striking out the said Notice of Appeal as a nullity.
4. A declaration that the ruling staying execution of the judgment that was granted by the court on 30th November 2004 is equally null and void as the court had no jurisdiction to have granted it.
5. An order setting aside the ruling as void.
Both counsel in the case agreed that the suit be determined on legal arguments. On 9th March 2015, the Trial High Court therefore ordered that the suit be set down for legal argument and ordered counsel for both parties to file written submission which was complied with.
After consideration of the legal arguments of both counsel for the parties, the High Court on 9th June, 2015 gave its judgment by refusing to either strike out the Notice of Appeal or set aside the ruling staying execution of the judgment with respect to the interest. The High Court accordingly dismissed the matter as unfounded and awarded cost of GH₡600.00 against the Plaintiffs.
The Plaintiff dissatisfied with the said decision has appealed to this court on the following grounds:-
i) The judgment is against the weight of evidence.
ii) That the Trial Court erred by misapplying rule 9(b) of the Court of Appeal Rules (C.I.19) to the case.
iii) That the judgment sins against the decision in the case of “MOSI VRS. BAGYINA” 1 GLR.
iv) That the judgment sins against the decision in the case of “MERCHANT BANK VRS. SIMILAR WAYS LTD.” (2013) 60 GMJ 131
v) That other grounds will be filed on the receipt of the record of appeal.
We noticed however that although the Plaintiff intimated that he would file additional grounds upon receipt of the record of appeal, no additional grounds were filed. We noticed further that the Defendants, though served with the written submissions of the Plaintiff/Appellant failed to make any input in this appeal by filing their written submissions. We therefore deem it that they do not intend to contest the appeal. This notwithstanding, we are obligated to determine the appeal on its merits by scrutinizing the entire record of appeal together with the judgment, the subject matter of this appeal before arriving at our decision.
The role of the Appellate Court in determining the omnibus ground of appeal has been decided in several cases including AKUFO ADDO VRS. CATHLINE I GLR 377; DJIN VRS. MUSAH BAAKO [2007-2008] SC GLR 686; ABBEY VRS. ANTWI  SC GLR 17; ARYEH & AKAKPO AYAA IDDRISU SC GLR 891.
IN DJIN VRS. MUSAH BAAKO (supra) the Supreme Court explained the omnibus ground in Head note (1) thus:-
“Where (as in the instant case), an Appellant complains that a judgment is against the weight of evidence, he is implying that there were certain pieces of evidence on the record which if applied in his favour could have changed the decision on his favour, or certain pieces of evidence have been wrongly applied against him”.
In O.T.R. (GH) LTD. VRS. B.B. MOTORS 5 MLRG 33 (CA) cited by counsel for the Plaintiff, the Court of Appeal held that;
“It’s is now well settled that a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction is presumed valid until the contrary is established.
Where therefore an Appellant claims that a judgment of a Trial Court is against the weight of evidence adduced at the trial, the burden is on him to show that the judgment was in fact against the weight of evidence”.
It is obvious from the authorities supra and the several decided cases in respect of the omnibus ground that, the Appellant must show by referring to the pieces of evidence on the record which the Trial Court failed to appreciate or which even though appreciated, the Trial Court failed to attach any import to it in arriving at its decision. Apart from counsel for the Plaintiff stating that a thorough study and reading of the exhibits tendered by the Plaintiff supported his case, counsel failed to make any reference to the evidence contained in the said exhibits which the Trial Court failed to consider but which this court must evaluate before arriving at our decision. For this reason, Ground (1) of the appeal fails and same is hereby dismissed.
We will now proceed to consider the rest of the grounds of appeal together since they deal with matters of law. The crux of the argument of counsel for the Plaintiff in support of the appeal is that the decision of Nana Gyamera-Tawaih J. delivered on 24th June 2004 is a post-judgment ruling. This is because the Defendants in their statement of defence admitted that in 1994, the court, presided by Justice G.M. Quaye J. (as he then was) delivered its judgment in favour of the Plaintiff but ordered an arbitration to be set up by the Court to determine and assess how much compensation should be paid to the farmers. The Defendants also admitted that they did not appeal against that judgment. To learned counsel, that admission meant that a judgment was earlier delivered by Justice G.M. Quaye as far back as 25th October, 1994.
Counsel argued further that, the said judgment of Justice Quaye formed the basis of all subsequent rulings or decisions made in this case. He submitted that in view of the fact that the said judgment of Justice Quaye is still subsisting as at now, all decisions made by any court differently constituted is a post judgment ruling.
Counsel for the Plaintiff argued further that the Trial Court in the instant suit when faced with the problem of determining whether the ruling delivered by Justice Nana Gyamera-Tawiah J. on 24th June 2004 is a ruling or a final judgment stated thus:
“It was a final decision, an appeal against which was affected by rule 9(1)(b) of C.I.19 and not 9(1)(a). The decision delivered on the 24th June 2004 and time limit for appeal against it was three (3) months or 90 days”.
Counsel for the Plaintiff submitted that the proposition of the law (supra) by the Trial Judge is palpably wrong in law due to the fact that the Trial Judge lost sight of the subsistence of the decision of Justice G.M. Quaye delivered in October, 1994 and that any decision made by any court differently constituted is a post-judgment ruling. Counsel submitted that under the circumstances, Rule 9(1)(a) of C.I.19 should apply to the appeal filed by the Defendants and not Rule 9(1)(b) as stated by the Trial Judge.
Rule 9(1) of C.I.19 provides:
“Subject to any other enactment for the time being in force, no appeal shall be brought after the expiration of:-
(a) Twenty-one (21) days in case of an appeal against an interlocutory decision, or
(b) Three (3) months in the case of an appeal against a final decision unless the Court below or the Court extends the time”.
The question to be considered is: was the ruling of Nana Gyamera-Tawaih J dated 24th June 2004 “interlocutory” or “final”.
In Black’s Law Dictionary 8th Edition page 859, “interlocutory judgment” is defined as:-
“An intermediate judgment that determines a preliminary or subordinate point or plea but does not finally decide the case. A judgment or order given on a provisional or accessory claim or contention is generally interlocutory”.
“Final Judgment” is also defined as:-
“A Court’s last action that settle the rights of the parties and disposes of all issues in controversy, except for the award of costs (and, sometimes, attorney’s fees) and enforcement of the judgment. - Also termed final appealable judgment, final decree; definitive judgment; determinative judgment, final appealable order”.
The Supreme Court in the case of POMAA VRS. FOSUHENE [1987-88] 1 GLR 244 holding (1) of head note made a concise distinction between the two term as follows;
“An inference whether a decision or order was final or interlocutory was dependent essentially on the nature of the decision or order and consequently on the answer to the question whether the decision or order finally disposed of the rights of the parties or the mater in controversy. An interlocutory decision did not assume finality to dispose of the rights of the parties.
It was an order in procedure to preserve matters in status quo until the rights of the parties could be determined. The test was not to look at the nature of the application but the nature of the order made”.
The Court of Appeal had earlier reduced the test to a simple form in the case of state GOLD MINING CORPORATION VRS. SISALA 1 GLR 359 as follows:-
“Does the judgment or order, as made, finally dispose of the rights of the parties. If it does, then it is a Final Order, but if it does not then it is an Interlocutory Order”.
In Halsbury Laws of England (4th ed), Vol. 26, paragraph 506 the term “final” and “interlocutory” order are defined respectively as:
(1) “An order which does not deal with the final rights of parties, but either (1) is made before judgment, and gives no final decision on matters in dispute, but is merely on a matter of procedure, or
(2) Is made after judgment, and merely directs how the declarations of right already given in the final judgment are worked out is termed “interlocutory”.
See EX-PARTE STATE HOUSING CO. LTD. (NO.2)  SC GLR 185 per Georgina Wood C.J.
Applied to the facts in the instant case, could the decision of G.M. Quaye J. (as he then was) be said to be final judgment so that any subsequent decision made by any court differently constituted be construed as post judgment ruling?
In our view the judgment of G.M. Quaye J. (as he then was) dated 25th October, 1994 which ordered that an Arbitration be set up to determine how much compensation should be paid the Plaintiffs (farmers) was not final. This is because no order was made by the judge in the said judgment or order which determined the principal matter in dispute nor did the judge pronounce the rights of the Plaintiffs (farmers) in the substantive matter to finality. The judge merely directed how the rights of the Plaintiffs (farmers) were to be worked out by the Arbitrators to enable the court deliver its final judgment. The Plaintiffs, obviously realizing that it was not a final judgment and therefore not executable, did not put in motion the execution processes. Similarly, the Defendants did not find it necessary to appeal against it.
On the other hand both decisions of Nana Gyamera-Tawiah J. dated 30th May, 2003 and the reviewed judgment of 24th June 2004 are final judgments. This is because not only was the judgment entered in favour of the Plaintiff in the sum of ₡427,153,308.78 but interest was awarded at the Bank rate. In respect of the decision of Nana Gyamera-Tawish J. dated 24th June, 2004 the Court entered judgment in favour of the Plaintiff for a specific sum of ₡427,153,308.78 and awarded interest at the Bank rate with effect from 1st August, 1997 to the date of the decision. This order in our view finally disposed of the rights of the parties.
As the Trial Judge rightly noted, it was the ruling of 24th June, 2004 which was entered as an AMENDED JUDGMENT AFTER TRIAL by the Plaintiff on 2nd July 2004. It is against the said ruling that the appeal was filed by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants on 7th September, 2004 which generated the present suit.
In the instant case and from the Plaintiff’s own showing, the Defendants filed the appeal on 7th September, 2004, which is 73 days after the delivery of the decision of Nana Gyamera-Tawiah J. dated 24th June, 2004. This being the case, we cannot fault the Trial Judge’s decision that the ruling of Nana Gyamera-Tawiah J. dated 24th June, 2004 is a final decision, an appeal against which was affected by rule 9(1)(b) of C.I.19 and not 9(1)(a).
Having said so, it is our view that the ratio in the cases of MOSI VRS. BAGYINA AND MERCHANT BANK VRS. SIMILAR WAYS LTD. (supra) are not relevant/applicable under the circumstances to the instant case. Grounds (ii), (iii) and (iv) of the appeal therefore fail.
For these reasons, we have no cause to interfere with the decision of the High Court dated 9th June, 2015, which we hereby affirm. Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.