Existing Laws as a Source of Ghanaian Law

Note on Existing Laws as a Source of Ghanaian Law by Legum

Existing Law as a Source of Law:

In article 11(1)(d) of the constitution, existing law is recognised as a source of law. It is further clarified in article 11(4) that the “The existing law shall, except as otherwise provided in clause (1) of this article, comprise the written and unwritten laws of Ghana as they existed immediately before the coming. into force of this Constitution, and any Act. Decree, Law or statutory instrument issued or made before that date, which is to come into force on or after that date.” Thus, the acts, decrees, laws made prior to the coming into force of the 1992 constitution are considered valid law.

In the case of Ellis v. Attorney-General [2000] SCGLR 24, the plaintiff claimed that the Hemang Lands (Acquisition and Compensation) Law (PNDCL 294) had unlawfully expropriated his lands and he sought a declaration that the law was null for contravening the 1992 constitution. The supreme court rejected the claim and held that PNDCL 294 had been passed and the plaintiff’s land had been vested in the republic before the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution. Applying the 1992 constitution to judge the legality of the State’s expropriation of the plaintiff’s lands was considered a retrospective application of the law, causing the action to fail.

Similarly in the case of Kangah v Kyere [1982] GLR 649, the Supreme Court held that the Chieftaincy Act 371 should be construed as existing law and was not inconsistent with any provision of the 1979 Constitution.

Some Examples of Existing Law:

1. The 1960 Republican Constitution.

2. The 1969 Second Republican Constitution

3. The 1979 Republican Constitution.

4. The 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution.

5. PNDC Law 111.