Brief of Fiaklu v. Adjiani

Brief of Fiaklu v. Adjiani by Legum

Fiaklu v. Adjiani (1972) 2 GLR 209

Material Facts:

The Korle priest, with the knowledge and concurrence of the principal members of the Korle family, conveyed land at Kokomlemle as a gift to one Sadole in 1952. In the same year, Sadole then sold the land to the plaintiff, who took possession of the land, planted some trees on it, and began building.

In 1962, however, the defendant also went onto the same land and started building. The defendant claimed that the land was conveyed to him by the same Korle priest, but with the consent and concurrence of the Ga and Gbese stools.

The plaintiff caused a writ to be issued to the defendant, by which he claimed a declaration of title to the land and an injunction against the defendant.

Procedural History:

At the trial court, it was held that the plaintiff’s title was defective and invalid because the conveyance was made by only the Korle priest without the consent and concurrence of the Ga and Gbese stools, as held in Golightly v. Ashrifi [1961] GLR 28. The plaintiff appealed.


Whether the plaintiff or the defendant had absolute (allodial) title to the disputed land

Arguments of the Plaintiff-Appellant:

  1. That the Korle priest was the proper authority to grant Kokomlemle lands and that the roles of the Gbese and Ga stools were restricted to confirming such grants as made by the Korle priest.
  2. In spite of the decision in Golightly v. Ashrifi [1961] GLR 28 , the Korle priest has continued making grants in accordance with ancient custom. It was in accordance with this native custom that the grant to Sadole was made, from whom the plaintiff-appellant obtained a valid title.


The defendant had absolute title to the disputed land.

Ratio Decidendi:

The source of the plaintiff’s title is the gift to Sadole by the Korle priest. The question of whether the Korle priest can, on his own, make grants of lands in Kokomlemle has been the subject of many litigations. In the case of Golightly v. Ashrifi (supra), it was settled that lands in Kokomlemle are jointly owned by the Korle, Gbese, and Ga stools and could only be absolutely alienated by the Korle priest with the consent and concurrence of the Ga and Gbese stools. With the position of the Korle priest having been so settled by the courts, Sowah J.A. stated the declarations by the courts "supersedes the custom however ancient and becomes law obligatory upon those who come within its confines. To the extent therefore that a declaration is inconsistent with a part of the content of a custom, that part in my view is abrogated."

Since the disputed land is in Kokomlemle, any grant that deviates from the decision in Golightly v. Ashrifi (supra) is null and void. In the present case, the Ga and Gbese stools, as joint owners, did not consent to the conveyance made to Sadole. His title was therefore void, and he cannot transfer a valid title to the plaintiff. The conveyance made to the defendant, however, was by the Korle priest with the consent and concurrence of the Ga and Gbese stools. Being consistent with the position in Golightly v. Ashrifi, the conveyance was valid. His lordship concluded as follows:

Perhaps it is necessary to recall that the Korle priest is incompetent by himself and without the necessary consent to make an absolute grant of Kokomlemle stool lands even to a subject of the stool. In my view the conveyance to Sodole, a stranger, passed no title whatsoever and was void ab initio. Having held that the conveyance to Sodole was void and created no interest in the land, it does follow that the three entities could create an estate in the land in dispute to third parties when the proper formalities have been observed. The defendant therefore obtained a good title.

Summary of Principles:

  1. Whatever the customary law is, any declaration by the court that is inconsistent with the customary law becomes the new position and law.
  2. The Ga, Gbese, and Korle stools are the allodial owners of the Kokomlemle lands, and before any valid alienation can be made, it must be with the consent and concurrence of all three stools.