Brief of Sasraku V. David & Ors

Brief of Sasraku V. David & Ors by Legum

Sasraku V. David & Ors. [1959] GLR 7

Material Facts:

The plaintiff sought a declaration of title to land and an injunction to restrain the defendants from trespassing on the said land. He based his title to the land upon three documents, by which he claimed the land had been sold to him absolutely by the Chempaw Stool, thereby making him the owner.

On the other hand, the defendants submitted that they were granted permission by the Kokofu Stool to fell timber on lands that included the land to which the plaintiff lays claim. The Kokofu Stool joined the action as co-defendants and primarily argued that land is not saleable in Ashanti, and even if it were, the sale by the Chempaw Stool, which is a subordinate stool, was done without the consent and concurrence of the Kokofu stool, is therefore invalid, and conveyed no title to the plaintiff.


  1. Whether land is saleable in Ashanti region
  2. Whether the sale of the land to the plaintiff was with the consent of the Kokofu stool
  3. Whether the plaintiff acquired the allodial title to the lands after the alleged sale

Arguments of the Co-Defendant (the Kokofu stool):

  1. The Chempaw stool that purportedly sold the land to the plaintiff is a sub-stool. A sub-stool cannot give away or sell land to a stranger or an Ashanti man without the consent of the paramount stool (Kokofu stool).


  1. Land is saleable in Ashanti region.
  2. The sale of the land to the plaintiff was with the consent of the Kokofu stool.
  3. The plaintiff only acquired a usufruct and not an allodial title after "purchasing the land."

Ratio Decidendi on Issue 1:

The arguments of the co-defendant (the Kokofu stool) and the submissions by his main supporting witness all go to show that land is salable in the Ashanti region. For instance, the co-defendant, in arguing that the consent of the Kokofu stool is needed before any sale by the Chempaw stool, cited instances in the past where lands were sold by a sub-stool but with the consent of the Kokofu stool. His material witness equally said that the custom of "Guaha", where land is sold outright and the title to the land is transferred to the buyer, is not existent in the Ashanti region, as the Ashantis have "Tramma", which is the equivalent of "Guaha". He also added that at the time, land was not saleable and had no value.

Ratio Decidendi on Issue 2:

It was evident that the linguist to the Omanhene of Kokofu witnessed the documents by which the sale of the land was made. The signature of the linguist is therefore binding on the stool. Further, the land had been in the possession of the plaintiff for twenty to thirty years, and if the Kokofu stool had not consented to the sale of the land to the plaintiffs, they would have sought to recover possession of the land earlier. The failure of the stool to act, per Per Granville Sharp J.A., "… clearly constitute proof of such laches and acquiescence on the part of the stool as would render it inequitable to interfere with the plaintiff in occupancy of the land." His lordship further approved the view that the recent attempts by the stool to recover the land were to put the land to further use and acquire more rents from doing so.

Ratio Decidendi on Issue 3:

The sale was deemed to pass no absolute title to the plaintiffs because it violated various provisions of the Concessions Ordinance. All that can be said about the documents is that they are evidence that the land was sold in accordance with native custom. Consequently, the estate or title that passed to the plaintiff is one that usually passes between natives following the sale of land. His lordship described the title as "..not an unqualified ownership or right to the land, but a possessory right to occupy the land and enjoy the usufruct thereof; in other words, the usual native tenure". The money paid by the plaintiffs for the land is thus a tribute paid to the stool for being given a possessory or usufructuary interest in the land. In one of the documents, it is even clear that the plaintiffs will continue to pay such tributes, as the document states that if minerals are discovered on the land, the seller (the stool) gets a one-third share. His lordship concluded as follows:

By this document the allodial right of the real owner was recognised, and, so long as this is so, and the plaintiff-family does not become extinct, or desert the land, they are entitled to remain on the land and have the same protection as if they were in fact the owners.

Summary of Principles:

  1. Stool land in Ashanti can be sold absolutely. Upon such sale, the buyer acquires the allodial interest, and the stool loses same.
  2. The sale of land, the allodial interest of which is held by a paramount stool, must be with the consent of the paramount stool.
  3. The usufructuary has a possessory interest, and this interest will be protected as if they were the actual owners (allodial title holders) of the land.