Quartey v. Martey [ 1959] GLR 377:
The plaintiff, E Quartey, was married to H.A Martey under customary law. Upon the death of H.A Martey, the plaintiff, inter alia, claimed a one-third share in a house at Official Town, Accra which was owned by her deceased husband. The plaintiff’s claim was on the basis that she aided her deceased husband in the form of a monthly allowance, traded on his behalf, and assisted him in jobs from which he made money to build the house at Official Town. She, however, admitted that her deceased husband could have built the house from the proceeds of his cocoa farm left by his deceased father.
1. Whether or not the house at Official Town is family property?
2. Whether or not the house of Official Town is the joint property of E Quartey and H.A Martey?
Arguments of the Plaintiff:
1. That by customary law, and upon a man’s death intestate, his widow is entitled in distribution to a one-third share of his self-acquired property, real and personal.
2. That when a woman aids her husband in carrying out his business, she is entitled to a share in the proceeds from such business and a share in any property he acquires.
1. The house at Official Town is family property.
2. The house at Official Town is not the joint property of E Quartey and H.A Martey.
The learned judge held that if the deceased husband built the house from the proceeds of his cocoa farm, which was considered family property, then the house is family property because “by customary law, any property acquired with the proceeds of family property is itself family property, and is not the self-acquired property of the member of the family so acquiring it.” Even if the property is the self-acquired property of the man, the learned judge submitted that “ the customary law is, that upon a man's death intestate, his self-acquired property becomes family property, vested in his family, which will be the paternal family or the maternal family, depending upon the tribe to which the deceased belonged ”
On the second issue, the learned judge submitted that by customary law, it is the domestic responsibility of a man’s wife and his children to assist him in his work, and any properties the man acquires from the proceeds of such work are by customary law the individual properties of the man. The man’s wife and children only have a right of maintenance from him.