Brief of Reindorf v Reindorf

Brief of Reindorf v Reindorf by Legum

Reindorf v. Reindorf [1974] 2 GLR 36:

Material Facts:

The plaintiff is the wife of the defendant who claimed to have been deserted by the defendant and thrown out of their matrimonial home. The plaintiff brought an action against the defendant seeking, inter alia, a declaration that she is the owner of all the premises Nos. C290/5 and C28/5, Nima, Accra because she built the properties with her own funds acquired from the proceeds of her trade without the aid of the defendant, and is thus entitled to the properties. The title deeds of the said premises contained both the name of the plaintiff and the defendant, who contended that he built the houses and rather had the conveyances made in their joint names to safeguard the interests of the wife and children in the event of his dying intestate.


Whether or not the premises Nos. C290/5 and C28/5 are the sole properties of the plaintiff?

Arguments of the Plaintiff:

1. That defendant's name was added to the title deeds by the defendant without the knowledge and consent of the plaintiff; the plaintiff being an illiterate person.

Arguments of the Defendant:

1. That the defendant provided the initial capital the plaintiff used to start her business, hence she was not operating the business separately from the defendant.

2. That the houses in dispute are all built by the defendant and not through the joint efforts of the defendant and plaintiff.

3. That his marriage to the plaintiff still subsists and the plaintiff cannot seek the division of the family property whilst the marriage subsists.


The premises Nos. C290/5 and C28/5 are the sole properties of the plaintiff.

Ratio Decidendi:

The court initially established that pursuant to section 2 of the Married Women's Property Ordinance, Cap. 131 (1951 Rev.), the earnings of a wife who engages in or operates a trade separate from her husband shall be deemed to be the property of the wife and settled to her separate use. The court found that even if the contention by the defendant that he provided the initial capital for the plaintiff is upheld, “the mere fact that the husband provided the initial capital or actually set up the wife in trade, as is usual in this country, would not of itself imply that the married woman is not trading separately from her husband”. Based on the evidence presented by the plaintiff, the court was satisfied that it was she who provided the funds for the construction of the premises from a trade she operates separately, and is thus the owner of the premises pursuant to section 2 [supra]. The court also admitted parol evidence to show that the real purchaser and builder of the properties was the plaintiff who advanced the monies used in buying the plots and constructing the houses.