Introduction to Family Land Management:
This note provides a brief introduction to family land management. It discusses the meaning of family, family land, common terms used in family land management. The note concludes with a brief outline of what family land management entails.
What is a Family:
Section 281 of the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) , defines a family as “a group of persons who trace their ancestry from a common lineage and who, at customary law, are recognised as a land-owning group.”
What is Land:
Section 281 of Act 1036 provides that “land includes the solid surface of the earth, trees, plant, crops and other vegetation, a part of the earth surface covered by water, any house, building or structure whatsoever, and any interest or right in, to or over immovable property;”
Section 281 of Act 1036 defines family land as “land, the allodial title, to which is held by a family for the benefit of the members of that family in accordance with customary law.”
Section 2 of Act 1036 defines allodial title as:
(a) the highest or ultimate interest in land; and
(b) held by the State or, a stool or skin, or clan or family or an individual;
and may have been acquired through compulsory acquisition, conquest, pioneer discovery and settlement, gift, purchase, or agreement.
Per section 9 of Act 1036, family lands are deemed to be vested in the appropriate family on behalf and in trust for the members of the family in accordance with customary law and usage.
Common Terms in Family Land Management:
1. Head of Family: section 4 of the Head of Family (Accountability) act 1985 (PNDC 114) defined head of family as “includes a person who is in possession of or in control of, or has custody of a family property.” The head of family performs functions such as representing the family in civil suits to protect family property, holding family property in trust for the family, inter alia.
2. Principal Members of the Family: These are persons whose consent and concurrence is needed before the conveyance alienation of family property.
3. Conveyance: Per section 281 of Act 1036, “"conveyance" includes a document in writing by which an interest in land is transferred, an oral grant under customary law that is duly recorded in accordance with this Act, a lease, disclaimer, release, and any other assurance of property or of an interest in property by an instrument, except a will;”
Key Areas of Family Land Management:
The following are key areas in family land management:
1. Appointment and removal of the head of the family.
2. What constitutes family property or the acquisition of family property.
3. Alienation of family property.
4. Litigating over family land.
These areas are discussed in subsequent notes.