Ada Co-operative Food Farmers Union Ltd. v. Abodei & Ors [1982-83] GLR 1144
The plaintiff is an agricultural co-operative that took a loan from the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to buy tractors. The tractors were registered in the names of the plaintiff and ADB. At some point, some officers of the plaintiff saw the defendant in possession of the tractors and made several attempts to retrieve them but failed. The defendants claimed ownership on the basis that they had bought the tractors from one Azakpoe who was an officer of the Department of Co-operatives, the guarantor for the loan the plaintiff took from ADB. It was established that at some point Azakpoe helped the officers of the union recover hiring fees from the union members when the union had difficulty repaying ADB for the loan.
Whether Azakpoe could pass title in the machines to the defendants.
Arguments of the Defendant:
1. That ADB some officers of the plaintiff co-operative authorized Azakpoe to sell the tractors for the union to help the union repay ADB.
2. That the plaintiff union by conduct enabled Azakpoe to hold himself out as one entitled to sell the tractors and should be estopped from denying the ostensible authority of Azakpoe as an agent.
Azakpoe could not pass title in the machines to the defendants.
The court held that it is only ADB and the plaintiff union who can pass title as joint owners of the tractors. And whilst they could use Azakpoe as an agent to sell, the evidence that they authorized him to make the sale was not deemed credible and there was no evidence that ADB equally authorized the sale. On the defendants’ contention that Azakpoe had ostensible authority to make the sale, the court held that by the evidence, the plaintiff did not hold out Azakpoe as its agent when he helped them recover hiring fees, and “the onus lies upon the person dealing with the agent to prove either real or ostensible authority.”