IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
IN THE HIGH COURT
KUMASI - A.D 2016
ELIZABETH ABOAGYE AND CYNTHIA ABOAGYE - (Plaintiff)
EMMANUEL ABOAGYE AND ALEX AKYEM OF AYANFRE-DUNKWA - (Defendant)
DATE: 17TH NOVEMBER, 2016
SUIT NO: FAL 43/2014
JUDGES: FRANCIS OBIRI, JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT
LAWYERS: REV. GABORA FOR DEFENDANT
This ruling is in respect of an objection raised by Counsel for the Plaintiff against an order this Court made on 27-10-16. The Court on the said date ordered both parties in the case to file their witness statements as well as all the exhibits they intend to tender in the case on or before 11-11-16.
On the said date, Counsel for plaintiff was not in Court when the order was made. However, Counsel for defendant was in Court. The plaintiffs were also in Court.
Counsel for plaintiff contended in his submission before the Court on 16-11-16 as follows:
(a) That the Court erred when she made the said order for witness statements to be filed since directions had already been taken in the case.
(b) That, application for directions was taken on 26-11-2014 by which time C.I 87 (High Court) (Civil Procedure) (Amendment) Rule 2014, had not come into force.
In the view of Counsel, the order for filing of witness statements can only be made at the application for directions stage. To that effect; once direction was taken before C.I 87 came into force, the Court erred in making the said order Counsel therefore prayed that same should be vacated. Counsel referred the Court to Order 32 rule 7A sub rule 4(2) of C.I 87.
In response, Counsel for defendant submitted that, the Court should always aim at expeditious trial. Therefore the Court was not wrong when the order was made.
I wish to say that the Court is empowered under Section 69 of the Evidence Act, 1975 (Act 323) to control mode and order of interrogation.
Section 69 provides “The Court shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to
(a) make the interrogation and presentation as rapid, as distinct and as readily understandable as may be.”
Again Order 38 rule 3 also provides that the Court may at or before the trial of an action, order that evidence of any particular fact shall be given at the trial in such manner as may be specified by the order. The combined effect of the two provisions mean that both Act 323 and C.I. 47 empower the Court to adopt method of taking evidence that would be expeditious with regard to witness statement.
Again our rules on witness statement is subject to the general obligation of the Court as stated in Order 1 (2) of C.I 47 which provides that,
“These rules shall be interpreted and applied so as to achieve speedy and effective justice, avoid delay and unnecessary expenses, and ensure that as far as possible all matters in dispute between parties may be completely, effectively and finally determined and multiplicity of proceedings concerning any of such matters avoided.”
This means that, the order for witness statement is to save cost to the parties by achievement of early disposal of cases. Again it is also to avoid surprises coming up in cases during the taking of evidence. It again helps parties to identify the real issues in controversy.
From the foregoing, I do not think the Court erred when it made the said order. I do not think, Order 38 rule7A, sub rule 4 (2) foreclose the power of the Court to make such orders for expeditious trial. The objection has no merit and same is dismissed.
Considering the fact that if the instant application had been granted, it was going to set a dangerous precedent to avoid early disposal of cases, which is the overall objective of C.I 47, I would award cost of GH¢200 against the plaintiff. I will however direct that, the said cost should be paid personally by learned Counsel for the Plaintiff that is Mr. Bright Obeng Manu Jnr.
See: Republic Vrs. High Court (Human Right Division) Accra
Ex-parte Nana Otua Swayne
Prince Kofi Amoabeng & Attorney General (Interested parties) Civil Motion No J5/8/ 2015, dated 19th February 2015 (unreported) SC.