Justice of the Appeals Court of Ghana, Justice Sir Dennis Dominic Adjei, FGA has charged Ghanaians to be careful when buying lands as “land buying is not like buying a shirt on the market”. He gave these remarks at his Inaugural Lecture on the topic: “The Changing Trends in Land Law, Policy, Governance, and Management under the Land Act (Act 1036)” at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS).
The lecture, which took place in the GAAS auditorium on Thursday 29th April, 2021at 5:30pm, was attended by dignitaries and luminaries in the law fraternity. Prof. Kofi Opoku Nti, FGA, Vice President of the Arts Section [GAAS] Chaired the event, which was moderated by the Honorary Secretary of GAAS, Prof. Helen Atawube Yitah, FGA.
An Inaugural Lecture is a tradition at GAAS which offers an opportunity for newly elected Fellows to showcase their intellectual prowess in their field of study or experience.
Justice Sir Dennis Adjei spoke on interventions and policies introduced by the Land Act, Act 1036, and mentioned that the Act has prescribed severe penalties to be applied to land guards and those who use land guards for their parochial interest in contravention of the law.
He gave accounts of the importance of land for human survival and remarked that the struggle for land had been with humankind since time immemorial. The prevailing evidence of scarcity of land necessitated the enactment of laws and policies to manage and regulate its use, acquisition, and alienation to prevent a situation where the rich and physically well-built persons would deprive the poor and weak of their interests in land.
He indicated that the English who governed the Gold Coast, through the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1876, introduced common law interests and rights through the common law freehold, fee simple, fee tail, life interest, trust, advancement, licence, profit à prendre and easement. Therefore, the English rule of law, which is termed the common law, and the doctrine of equity continue to form part of the sources of law in Ghana.
Justice Dennis Adjei’s presentation addressed thematic areas such as laws on land derived from the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1876 and other English Statutes; the local statutes on land before 23rd December, 2020; the land Act 2020 (Act 1030); the changes effected by the land Act, Act 1030 to existing law; and the areas of land law to be reviewed.
He expressed the need to replace the outmoded English Statutes of general application with local statutes which are more relevant to the needs of Ghanaians.
He added that the perpetuity rule which invalidates a gift which cannot be vested within nine months and twenty-one years shall cease to form part of the laws of England as the English found it anachronistic as far back as 1925. For this reason, Ghana should not continue to have the perpetuity rule in its statutes.
He observed that even though the Land Act has brought stool or skin lands in possession of a person who is entitled to free use of the said land under article 267(6) of the constitution, no provision was made by the Act to cater for their interest, and he recommended an amendment to fill this lacuna.
In his final words, Justice Sir Dennis Adjei remarked that the Land Act was passed by Parliament and was given assent by the President on 23rd December, 2020. It behoves the law enforcement agencies to ensure the potency of the law, bearing in mind the duties and obligations imposed on every citizen of Ghana by Article 21 of the Constitution, inter alia, to defend the Constitution and the laws of Ghana.
The Act has improved upon land policy and management system in the country and the foreign statutes which continue to form part of the local statutes and have outlived their usefulness should be changed to meet the needs of the people.
Justice Sir Dennis Dominic Adjei is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (FGA), which is a learned society established by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to promote the study of the arts and sciences and the extension and dissemination of knowledge in these disciplines. With a membership of 220 Fellows drawn from varied fields of learning, the Academy has from its inception assumed the important responsibility of introducing new directions in research and influencing national policy through its scholarship.
By: Korang Kwadwo Isaac (GAAS Communications)