The Uniqueness Of Jurat Required For Illiterate Testators

The Uniqueness Of Jurat Required For Illiterate Testators

I just couldn’t ‘think far’, as “Lil win”, the Kumawood movie actor might have put it. Which world are we in? Is that society’s sense of true justice? What crime did I commit to deserve such an unfair judgment? Do I curse my parents for the deficiency in my education or blame the custodians of the law for my plight?  I am sure these were the questions that hovered in the mind of the poor old woman, Mrs. Thompson after judgment had been handed down by the law Lords. In her suit against LMS[1], Mrs. Thompson fell on a slippery ramp while disembarking a train at 10pm from Manchester to Darwen and got injured. Apparently, she was an old illiterate who could not read the content of the receipt that had been issued to her.

The defendant’s company had exempted itself from liability of any sort for damages incurred by passengers holding excursions tickets. It was indicated on the ticket that the terms of the trip containing the exclusion clause could be read from the station master’s office and the notice board of the defendant’s company. In her action to recover damages for personal injury, the special jury, which was constituted, believed the railway company was negligent and so found it liable for not taking reasonable steps to bring the exclusion clause in the contract to the attention of the plaintiff. 

Little did Mrs. Thompson know that the trial judge had formed a different opinion.  He found as a matter of law that the defendant was not liable. The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the trial court and held that the fact that the plaintiff could not read did not matter. Lord Hanworth observed, interestingly, that: “The plaintiff in this case cannot read; but, having regard to the authorities, and the condition of education in this country, I do not think that avails her in any degree.” 

In essence, under the common law, illiteracy was considered a misfortune and not a privilege, despite the availability of the general plea of ‘non est factum’, which an illiterate party who signed a contract could raise. For the English judges at the time, it was highly unpardonable for one to live on the ‘queen’s land’ without being lettered in her language. Notwithstanding the popularity of the case in the development of Contract Law, it was not however, immune from critical outburst. The indefatigable Lord Denning MR later in the case of George Mitchell (Chesterhall) Ltd. v. Finney Lock Seeds Ltd. described the decision as part of ‘a bleak winter for our law of contract.[2]

Modern semblance of the judges’ reaction to illiteracy may still exist. For instance, a judge[3] not too long ago flew into rage in court in an extraordinary eruption for a charge sheet littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. He branded a bureaucrat from the Crown Prosecution Service as ‘illiterate idiot’. The official had consistently misspelt the word ‘grievous’ as ‘grevious’ and in the sentence, “The defendant has used an offensive weapon, namely ‘axe,’ instead of ‘namely an axe’.[4] In the same report, the writer admitted that great minds such as Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein were not great spellers. It was also emphasized that just a week before the incident, Dr. Ken Smith of Buckinghamshire New University had said that common mistakes such as ‘Febuary’, ‘ignor’ and ‘speach’ could be considered as alternative spellings. Does it not appear ironic that when academicians are even prepared to accommodate ‘illiterates’ and pardon them for their vulnerability, judges, whose prime objective is to unravel the truth and dispense justice remain unbending?

Can one think for a moment the serious implications such a hardnosed approach by these judges can have on our country with a literacy rate of less than 60%?[5] I doubt if your guess would be different from mine. Stark injustice, of course! It would definitely open the floodgate for the untutored to be taken advantage of. It was therefore not surprising that our colonial masters considered our predicament and enacted for us, the Illiterates Protection Ordinance[6], which has survived colonialism and has now ‘adorned the apparel’ of an Act, courtesy the renaming of all enactments by the Statute Law Revision Commissioner, despite the exit of the British from our precious land of gold.[7] Presently, illiterates who sign or thumb print letters or other legal documents are protected by the Illiterates’ Protection Act (Cap 262)

More than a century ago, the Privy Council stated in the case of Atta Kwamin v. Kufour: “…there is no presumption that a native of Ashanti, who does not understand English, and cannot read or write, has appreciated the meaning and effect of an English Instrument, because he is alleged to have set his hand to it by way of signature. That raises a question of fact to be tried like other questions upon the evidence.[8] In simple terms, the obligation on the literate who read the document and explained the content therein to the illiterate before the latter thumb printed as indicated on the document is known as ‘jurat’.

This article seeks to distinguish jurat for illiterate testators from the general jurat required for illiterates who sign or thumb print letters or other legal documents. The general protection afforded all illiterates who sign or thumb print any legal document as contained in Cap 262 is found under section 4. Akamba JSC in his excellent expatiation of the law in the case of Abed Nortey (suing for himself and on behalf of Osuwem Family of Prampram) v. African Institute of Journalism and Communication held:

  “The conditions to be fulfilled under section 4 of Cap 262 by persons writing letters and documents for illiterates, whether gratuitously or for a reward are:  (i) that the writer should clearly read over and explain the letter or the document or cause same to be read over and explained to the illiterate person, (ii) cause the illiterate person to write his signature or make his mark at the foot of the letter or other documents or to touch the pen with which the mark is made at the foot of the letter or other document, (iii) clearly write his full name and address of the letter or other document as writer thereof: and (iv) state on the letter or document of the nature and amount of the reward, if any charged.”[9]

Who is an illiterate protected by the law?                                                      

Generally, an illiterate is a person who is unable to read or write or is ignorant in a particular language.[10]  Kpegah J. (As he then was)[11]  in the case of Brown v. Ansah and Another (infra) defined an illiterate as a person lacking the ability to read and write in the language in which a particular document has been prepared. Similarly in the case of In Re Will of Bremansu; Akonu-Baffoe & Ors. v. Buaku & Vandyke (Substituted by) Bremansu, the Supreme Court held at holding 3 of the headnotes thus:

The Illiterates Protection Act, 1912 (Cap 262), did not give a definition of who is an illiterate. However, whether a person was to be considered as literate or illiterate in that context, must be related to the language in which the document had been prepared, i.e. the ability to read and write the said language. A person who could perfectly read and write the Ewe or Fanti language might be an illiterate within that context if the will was written in English which he could neither read nor write. It was the ability to read and write the language in which the document has been written which was relevant, and not whether the person could be classified as illiterate or literate.”[12]

Illiteracy is therefore a question of fact and the fact that a document had been thumb printed or signed is not enough to suggest that the person was illiterate. In Enimil VI v. Anglogold Ashanti, it was held by Kanyoke JA that: “It is common knowledge that the fact that a document has been thumb printed does not necessarily mean that the person who thumb printed that document is an illiterate without proven evidence. It does not also follow that any person who has signed a document is a literate. Illiteracy or literacy is a question of fact and requires proof.”[13] It stands to reason that evidence may be admitted in appropriate cases to rebut the presence of a jurat. 

In his article, ‘Illiterates Parties and Written Contracts’, Date-Bah had this point adumbrated: “It would seem then that it is not sufficient merely to read out the terms of the contract to the illiterate party, translating those terms into his vernacular. It is well known that the esoteric language of formal legal documents can be incomprehensible to even some educated people. It would seem that there is a duty to explain the terms of the contract on a level that is intelligible to the particular illiterate contracting party.”[14]

Also, in the case of In Goodman Moshie v. Kwaku, Attoh J. held: 

“I have had the opportunity of seeing the plaintiff and he spoke in Moshie in court through a Moshie interpreter. It does not strike me that the plaintiff, a Moshie man, understood the content of a complicated legal document  … when it was read and interpreted in Twi by Quartey (a Ga man) … A document like Exhibit 2 should have been read and interpreted to the plaintiff in Moshie, the language he spoke and understood, by a man of his own tribe. As exhibit 1, this is also a document that does not show that it has been read and interpreted to the plaintiff in his own language by the letter writer or any other person. The omission to do this is definitely against Section 4 (1) and (2) of the Illiterates Protection Ordinance. For the above reasons, I therefore hold that exhibit 1 and 2, not having been read and interpreted to the plaintiff in a language which he understands, the plaintiff had no knowledge of the contents of Exhibits 1 and 2.”[15]

A plethora of judicial decisions has underscored the protection afforded illiterates regarding documents executed by them over the years. See cases like B.P. (West African) Ltd. v. Boateng[16]; Adomako v. Duodu[17]; Amoo v. Akowuah[18] and Twum v. S.G.S Ltd[19]. The position of the law for a long time had been that the non-compliance with the Illiterates Protection Ordinance rendered the document void in the absence of a jurat. 

In relation to contractual documents, Dowuona Hammond at page 138 of her book, in a beautiful fashion of her academic brilliance explained: “Ghanaian law places an obligation on the literate party to the contract to explain the contents of the contract to the illiterate party such that if the literate party does not discharge his good faith duty, by explaining the content of the contract to the illiterate party, the contract is void”[20].

But in the view of Dennis Adjei J.A., the drastic effect of the non-compliance with Cap 262 which used to render the entire document void is no longer the case.[21] Now, a document prepared for an illiterate which does not contain any jurat may only raise the presumption that the illiterate did not appreciate the content before he or she thumb printed, but the document would not automatically become void. The learned Judge and writer at page 66 of his book wrote: “The present decisions of the Supreme Court are to the effect that failure to provide jurat has been moved from a fatality to a presumption.”[22]

When jurat may not be required under the law

An important provision in Cap 262, which sometimes escapes the attention of most lawyers is section 9. It provides exception for documents, which were prepared by lawyers and other specified persons. In the case of Owusu v. Kumah & Anor., the Court of Appeal referred to the section and held at holding 1 of the head notes as follows: 

“the main object of the Illiterates Protection Ordinance, Cap 262 (1951 Rev.) was to protect illiterates for whom documents were made. Section 4 of Cap 262 obliged every person writing a letter or document for an illiterate to read or cause it to be read over and explained to the illiterate and also ensure that the illiterate thumb-printed or made his mark on the letter or document. But the law expressly excluded in section 9 of the Ordinance documents made for illiterates by lawyers and the policy reason for that must be that lawyers who were generally men of standing and were the parties’ own chosen fiduciaries were unlikely to make anything but genuine documents to reflect their clients’ true wishes. In the instant case, there was inherently credible evidence that the terms of settlement were read and interpreted to the applicant by his lawyer. Had he also caused the former to thumb-print the settlement, it would have been an act of prudence on his part but not a legal requirement.[23]

Our neighbours in Nigeria who were also colonized by the British have a parallel provision at section 5 of their Illiterate Protection Act and quite recently, the Court of Appeal in the Benin Judicial Division applied the law in the case of Uwagboe & Anor v. Eriyo & follows: “Section 5 of the above mention law which puts the matter beyond dispute provides thus; ‘The law shall not apply to any letter or other document written in the course of his business or at the direction of any person admitted to practice and practicing as a Legal Practitioner in a High Court or the Supreme Court.”[24] Their Lordships relied on the 1999 case of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC v. Idrisu, where it was decided that the Illiterates Protection Law does not apply where a letter or document is written in the course of his business by or at the direction of any person practicing as a Legal Practitioner.[25]

Jurats required for illiterate Testators

When wills are prepared for either a blind or illiterate testator, a jurat is required. There appears to be confusion and or an overlap of the applicable law on jurat required for testators. 

Three different laws are identified in this area of the law and they are; 

(1) The Illiterates Protection Ordinance, Cap 262 (1951 Rev), sections 1-4;

(2) The Wills Act, 1971 (Act 360), section 2 (6) and

(3) The High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2004 (C.I. 47), Order 66 rule 17.

 The Illiterates Protection Ordinance, Cap 262 (1951 Rev), sections 1-4;

A one-time Chief Justice of our land, Samuel Azu Crabbe at page 214 of his book, observed: “It is enacted by Section 4 (1) of the Illiterates Protection Ordinance, Cap 262 (1951 Rev.) that any person writing letters, or, no doubt, documents, such as wills, for illiterate persons, should clearly and correctly read over and explain such letters or documents or cause the same to be read over and explained, to such illiterate persons.”[26] (The emphasis is mine). The distinguished author, law Lord and one time head of our Country’s Judiciary seemed to suggest that documents including wills prepared for illiterate testators should comply with the provisions of the Illiterates Protection Ordinance. I respectfully register my disagreement to his position. I do not think persons who prepare wills for illiterates’ testators can comfortably be brought under Cap 262. The Wills Act[27] has at section 2 (6), its own requirements of a jurat. 

By virtue of the Generalia Specialibis Non Derogant Rule[28], I believe that the Wills Act would have to take precedence over the general protection afforded all other illiterates who sign or thumb-print documents or letters. The need to draw a distinction between Act 360 and Cap 262 is important at this stage of our discussion because, if Cap 262 is made to apply to wills prepared for illiterate testators, then where the will was prepared by a lawyer, the exception in section 9 would apply. In such circumstance, the absence of a jurat in the will could conveniently be dispensed with. 

But, when one carefully reads the Wills Act, he or she would realize that there is no such exception in the Act for wills prepared by lawyers for illiterate or blind testators. It seems to me that the provisions of the Illiterates Protection Ordinance was necessary so far as wills executed by illiterates were concerned until the passage of the current Wills Act, 1971 (Act 360). Zooming into history, we can easily discover that until 1971, Ghana had no statute on Wills, so persons who made wills other than customary nuncupative wills (samansiw) made them in accordance with the English Wills Act of 1837, which applied as a Statute of General Application. Adzoe JSC in the case of Kwako v. Tawiah[29] [2001-2002] 1 GLR 339 at p. 350, S.C. held: “Until Act 360 came into force on 1 June 1971, the making of statutory wills in this country was governed by the English Wills Act of 1837 which was part of the common law of Ghana as a Statute of General Application.” 

Because the English Wills Act of 1837 had no provision of a jurat for illiterate testators, Cap 262 was relied upon as a source of hope for illiterates. The exception under section 9 of the Ordinance resulted in practical challenges concerning wills prepared by lawyers for illiterate testators, but had no jurat.

The High Court Civil Procedure Rules

In an attempt to cure the defect in Cap 262, the Rules drafters[30] under the old rules[31] ensured a provision was expressly inserted into the Rules Book in 1954 to take care of jurat so that even when a jurat was not found on the face of the will, evidence could be led for the will to be admitted to probate. Order 60 rule 29 of the old Rulesprovided: “Where the testator was blind or illiterate the Court shall not grant probate of the will, or administration with the will annexed, unless the court is first satisfied, by proof or by what appears on the face of the will, that the will was read over to the deceased before its execution or that he had at that time knowledge of its content.” [The emphasis is mine].

Perhaps, the provision above in the Rules Book was welcome at the time, until we had our own Wills Act in 1971, which expressly provided in section 2 (6) in no ambiguous terms that a will prepared for a blind or illiterate testator must contain a jurat. Though the provisions in the Wills Act co-existed with the one in the Rules Book, the latter appeared to have lost its relevance, to the extent that it allowed evidence to be adduced in proof of the fact that the will was read over to the illiterate or blind person, before he/she thumb-printed or signed it. In effect, it is immaterial that there is no jurat on the face of the will.

Professor Kludze at page 32 of his book[32] indicated that, in Ghana, the protection afforded illiterates has a statutory force under the provisions of Order 60, Rule 29 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules[33]. He went on to add that the Rule is also contained in section 2 (6) of the Wills Act, 1971 (Act 360). It appears that the learned Judge and academic giant erroneously took the two provisions to be the alike, but they are not. It is worth noting that the provision in the old Rules has been reproduced under Order 66 r. 19 of our current High Court Civil (Procedure) Rules, 2004 (C.I. 47). It provides: “Where the testator was blind or illiterate, the Court shall not grant probate of the will or administration with will annexed unless the Court is satisfied, by proof or by what appears on the face of the will, that the will was read over to the deceased before its execution or that the deceased had at the time knowledge of its content.”

On the other hand, Section 2 (6) of the Wills Act, 1971 (Act 360) provides: “Where the testator is blind or illiterate, a competent person shall carefully read over and explain to him the content of the will and shall declare in writing upon the will that he had so read over and explained its contents to the testator and that the testator appeared perfectly to understand it before it was executed.” [My emphasis]

The apparent conflict in the two provisions in the Rules Books and Act 360 above stemmed from the fact that while it has been found in the case of the former that proof of a jurat could be adduced by evidence even when it is not contained on the face of the will, same cannot be said of the latter, which appears to speak in mandatory terms. The interesting thing is that the two conflicting positions have received massive support and applications in recent times by the Courts and Jurists. In the case of In Re Will of Bremansu; Akonu-Baffoe & Ors. v. Buaku & Vandyke (Substituted by) Bremansu, the Supreme Court had no difficulty at all towing the line of those who believe that a will for an illiterate testator can be admitted to probate upon proof that it was read to the testator and he or she understood the content. Ansah JSC delivering the decision of the apex Court held at pages 1326-1327: “While it is correct to state that the absence of a jurat (authentication and interpretation clause), does not in itself, negate the validity of an otherwise valid will, it must be pointed out that the law requires the proponents of such a will to lead evidence to show that even in the absence of a jurat, the testator fully understood the content of the will”.[34]

The above decision finds strong support from other judicial decisions like Eshun v. Paintsiwah[35] and the decision of Ampiah JSC in Akua Prempeh & 3 Ors. v. S.D.A. Oddai[36]Sir Dennis Adjei, a staunch disciple and loyal follower of the above approach finds it inconceivable for the Supreme Court to decide otherwise in the case of Otoo (No. 2) & Others v. Otoo (No. 2) & Others[37]which I will soon discuss. Before submitting the contrary position in the Otoo’s case, let me state in clear terms that despite the strong support received from legal gurus and authorities behind the earlier position, it seems to me that the reliance on evidence in proof of a jurat in a will does not fit into the clear interpretation of the law.

The contrary position which does not allow evidence to be taken in proof of the content of a will by an illiterate testator was affirmatively stated by the Supreme Court in the Otoo’s case, a year after the decision in the case of In Re Will of Bremansu; Akonu-Baffoe & Ors. v. Buaku & Vandyke (Substituted by) Bremansu [supra]. Benin JSC unambiguously held in the Otoo case that where the will of an illiterate testator has no jurat, it should be declared void. His Lordship held:

There is no denying that it is an important matter because the existing legislation, namely, the Illiterates Protection Act, 1912 (Cap 262) imposes the requirement of interpretation of any document to an illiterate before he sets his mark thereto. Without such ‘jurat’ the document could not be valid as against the illiterate. The legislation is particularly important when it applies to a will since it takes effect only after the demise of the testator who thus would not be available to say that it was his deed. So the ‘jurat’ must appear on the face of the document evidencing the will if, in truth, the testator was illiterate.

His Lordship Justice Dennis Adjei in analyzing the above case in his book supra noted: “The Supreme Court relied on the Illiterates Protection Act which is a general statute to declare the will void.”[38] In his view, the procedural rules for granting Letters of Administration and probate should have engaged the minds of the Supreme Court rather than the general rules under Cap 262. He consistently voiced out his disagreement with the Supreme Court and expressed the hope that their Lordships would in the future reconsider their decision: “It is the respective [sic] view of the author that if the Supreme Court had averted its mind to the recent Supreme Court cases on jurat and Order 66 of C.I. 47, it might have arrived at a different conclusion.”[39]

Two points need to be made here. In the first place, the cases of Zabrama v. Segbedzi[40], Antie & Adjuwaah v. Ogbo[41] and Duodu and Others v. Adomako and Adomako[42]which the learned writer referred to in his book to argue out his case that the Supreme Court has in recent times relaxed the effect on non-compliance of a ‘jurat’ in a document were not cases related to wills.   

Secondly, it is my view that Justice Benin’s conclusion appears more compelling, except his reliance on the Illiterates Protection Act, which I have earlier explained that it should be inapplicable to wills. I am sure that had he referred to the instructive provision of section 2 (6) of the Wills Act, it would have been very difficult for His Lordship Sir Dennis Adjei to criticize the decision. This is because, in that situation, Act 360 being a specific and substantive legislation on wills in Ghana could not be expected to play a second fiddle to a procedural legislation. 

Kpegah J. (as he then was) had earlier in 1992 explained the relationship existing between the procedural rules and Act 360 in the case of Brown v. Ansah [supra], at holding 3 of the head notes as follows: 

 “Order 60, r.29 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1954 (L.N. 140A) was intended to take care of a deficiency in section 9 of the Wills Act, 1837 (7 Will 4 & 1 Vict, c.26) by providing protection to illiterates and the blind by laying down the procedure for proof that a blind or an illiterate testator’s wishes were correctly recorded. Section 2(6) of Act 360 however provided the protection more directly. Since Order 60, r. 29 of L.N. 140A was a subsidiary legislation it had to yield to section 2(6) of Act 360.  Accordingly, the relationship which now existed between Order 60, r.29 of L.N. 140A and section 2 (6) of Act 360 was that the only procedure for satisfying a court that a will had been carefully read and explained to an illiterate or a blind testator by a competent person as demanded by Act 360 was by a declaration to that effect on the will and not “by proof” by other means.”

The Court of Appeal in the case of Adjoba & Ors. v. Osofo Hagar & Ors. [2008-2009] 2 GLR 112, C.A. also had the opportunity to discuss the mandatory nature of jurat under Act 360 and the current procedural rules at holding 1 as follows: 

… on the authorities, even if evidence was adduced under Order 66 r 19 of C.I. 47 in court that the will was read over to the testator before its execution or that he had knowledge of its content, there must also appear ex facie the will itself a declaration by the person who did the reading over and explanation of the contents of the will. In the instant case, although exhibit B was thumb-printed by AM there was no such declaration on the will in contravention of the mandatory provisions of section 2(6) of Act 360.” (Emphasis supplied). 

After their Lordships had clarified that the jurat must always appear on the face of the will, they proceeded to expound on why it has to be so other than what appears in the High Court Civil Procedure Rules. They continued:“ … In any case, Order 66 r. 19 of C.I. 47 was a subsidiary legislation while section 2 (6) of the Wills Act (Act 360) was substantive law and by the canons of interpretation, the rule of substantive law must prevail over or override the rules of procedural law.”

This sound and logical reasoning which chooses the express provision in the Wills Act being a substantive legislation, over the general provision in C.I. 47 which is a subsidiary and procedural legislation seems more appealing. 

In conclusion, let me venture to say that whereas letters or documents other than wills may not require jurat if prepared by a lawyer for an illiterate person because of the exceptions provided for under section 9 of Cap 262, the same cannot be said of a will. In the case of a will, it is a mandatory requirement that jurat must appear on the face of it when it is prepared for illiterates and blind testators. In other words, the protection granted illiterates and blind persons under the Wills Act is quite stricter than what is required for letters and other legal documents. The provision of section 2 (6) of Act 360, intending to protect illiterates in Ghana can be said to be a progressive step in our legal system. I am particularly satisfied with the strict requirement of the jurat in wills, as opposed to the very flexible approach in the Rules Book, because one cannot underestimate the possibility of disgruntled and unreliable persons conniving to adduce extrinsic evidence after the death of the testator to persuade the court that the will was read over and interpreted to the illiterate or blind testator before he thumb printed when in fact it was not done. At that stage, the testator would not be around to say that the will was not read and interpreted to him, as gleaned from the dazzling exposition of the law by the indubitable Benin JSC in the Otoo case supra. 

It needs pointing out here that the insistence of a jurat on the face of a will should in no way be interpreted to mean the adoption of a strict and mechanical construction of wills. The good news is that where it is apparent on the face of the will that the content was read over to the illiterate or blind testator before he/she thumb printed or signed the will, the court can still grant probate, the presence of inelegant drafting by the lawyer who prepared it notwithstanding. This is because the courts in situations like that interpret wills more liberally as compared to other documents. See Re Mensah (Dec’d); Barnieh v. Mensah & Ors.[43] and Fosu & Anor. v. Adomah & Anor.[44]

A Humble Suggestion

It is quite surprising that a provision that was found under the old rules to be inconsistent with the express provisions of the Wills Act was replicated in the new Courts’ Rules.[45] It is respectfully submitted that in future, the Rules of Courts Committee would take cognizance of such provisions and exclude them from our Rules Book, now that we have a substantive Enactment on wills which makes adequate provision for illiterates and blind testators.

[1] Thompson v. London, Midland and Scottish Railway [1930] 1 K.B. 40, C. A.

[2] [1982] EWCA Civ 5

[3] Judge David Paget

[4] Reported in the Daily Mail Reporter on 12 August, 2008 under the caption: ‘Judge brands court worker an ‘illiterate idiot’ after spelling word wrong four times on charge sheet.’

[5] Christine Dowuona Hammond in his book, The Law of Contract in Ghana at page 138 put the literacy rate in Ghana at 57.4%. However, the 2015 UNESCO Institute of Statistics for countries put the literacy rate for Ghana at 76.6%.

[6] Illiterates Protection Ordinance, Cap 262 (Rev 1951).

[7] Article 11 (1) (d) of the 1992 Constitution recognized as part of our laws, the existing law, which included the laws passed during the colonial regime that had not been repealed at the advent of the Constitution.

[8] (1914) 2 Renner 808, S.C. (Privy Council)

[9] [2014] 77 GMJ 1 @ 33

[10] Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Revised Tenth Edition at page 707.

[11] A retired Supreme Court Judge who was then at the High Court.

[12] [2012] 2 SCGLR 1313

[13] [2012] 39 MRLG 48 @ 56

[14] Date-Bah, S.K.: Illiterates Parties & Written Contracts [1971] Vol. III, No. 3 RGL 181-193

[15] [1965] GLR 566 @ 570-571

[16] [1963] 1 GLR 232, per Akainya J.

[17] [2012] 42 G.M.J. 119

[18] [2012] 52 G.M.J. 27 @ 44

[19] [2011] 30 G.M.J. 92, C. A.

[20] See Endnote 5.

[21] See Dennis Adjei, Modern Approach to the Law of Interpretation in Ghana (Second Edition)

[22] Ibid at page 66

[23] [1984-86] 2 GLR 29.

[24] [2017] LPELR-42512 (CA), Suit No. CA/B/338/2005, dated 8th June, 2017.

[25] [1999] 7 NWLR Part 609 Page 105 @ 121-122

[26] Laws of Wills in Ghana

[27] The Wills Act, 1971 (Act 360)

[28] The presumption that specific laws or provisions override general laws or general provisions on the same subject-matter.

[29] [2001-2002] 1 GLR 339 @ 350, S.C.

[30] The Rules of Courts Committee

[31] Gold Coast Subsidiary Legislation, 1954 (LN 140A)

[32] Kludze, A.K.P.:  Modern Law of Succession in Ghana, 2015 Edn.

[33] LN 140A of 1954

[34] See endnote 12.

[35] 14 WACA 306

[36] Suit No. 5/2000, 14 May 2003 (Unreported), S.C.

[37] [2013-2014] 2 SCGLR 810

[38] See page 66

[39] See pages 67 & 322

[40] [1991] 2 GLR 221

[41] [2005-2006] SCGLR 494

[42] [2012] 1 SCGLR 198

[43] [1978] GLR 225-235, C.A.

[44] H1/281/2004, dated 15th May 2008, C.A. (Unreported), per Gbadegbe J.A. (as he then was).

[45] High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004 (C. I. 47) 

The author is a Justice of the High Court of Ghana and is currently on secondment in the Gambia. He obtained his LLB at the University of Ghana in 2000 and was called to the bar in 2002. In 2010, he joined the bench as a circuit court judge – after 8 years in private practice. He became a High Court Judge in 2013. Justice Alexander Osei Tutu holds an LLM in International Human Rights from the Fordham University and a Diploma in Transnational Criminal Law from the International Law Enforcement Academy at Roswell, USA.

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    Soung Jacob Zurobire 4 years

    This, in my humble estimation, is really very well researched article by His Lordship Justice Osei Tutu who is my personal friend as well. Your quality is not in doubt. Very straight forward and easy flow of the Queen’s Language.

    My Lord, are your generations part of the persons described as “presumption of no knowledge in the Queen’s language”, in Atta Kwamin v Kuffour referred to supra? Ha, haa, haaa!

    I am glad that you do not want to determine the rights and obligations of parties alone as a Judge, but to develop the law for generations unborn. Please, keep it up for us my Lord! I am proud of you. Bravo!!!

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    Isaac Forson 4 years

    Very educative article by the respected judge

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