Brief of James Town (Alata) Stool v. Sempe Stool

Brief of James Town (Alata) Stool v. Sempe Stool by Legum

James Town (Alata) Stool v. Sempe Stool [1989–90] 2 GLR 393

Material Facts:

The James Town Stool has three quarters (or sub-stools) consisting of Alata, Akumajay, and Sempe. The Mantse of the Alata Stool was also the head chief of the three quarters.

There was a land dispute between the Crabbe family of the Alata Stool and some subjects of the Sempe Stool at the Divisional Court. The dispute quickly transcended these two parties, as both the Alata Stool and the Sempe Stool sought to prove that the land in question was their stool land.

Procedural History:

The trial judge, Acolatse J., held that each stool had proved that certain parts of the land were in their use and occupation. He accordingly adjudged that each stool is the owner of the land its subjects occupy. The Crabbe family and the Alata stool lodged appeals against this judgement, and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and varied the judgement in favour of the Sempe Stool.


Whether the lands in the present action are Alata stool lands or Sempe stool lands


The James Town Stool does not own the allodial title to the lands in James Town. Rather, the allodial title is held by sub-stools.

Ratio Decidendi:

Their lordships began by explaining the system of traditional government in James Town. Accra consists of three divisions, of which James Town is one. James Town also consists of three divisions/quarters/sub-stools, consisting of Alata, Akumajay, and Sempe. These divisions have their heads known as the mantse. The mantse of the Alata Quarter is the head chief of James Town.

While the lands in James Town are vested in the James Town Mantse, Wuaku JSC noted that "each quarter can only claim ownership to an area which is in its exclusive possession. It will be wrong for any of the three stools to claim for itself the allodial title to all James Town lands." Thus, the sub-stool that proves it uses and is in occupation of certain lands owns the allodial title to those lands, and it will be wrong for any of the quarters to claim allodial title to all the lands in James Town.


A sub-stool can be the holder of an allodial title.