MARIAN OBENG MINTAH – PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT/APPELLANTVrs.FRANCIS AMPENYIN – DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT/RESPONDENT

MARIAN OBENG MINTAH – PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT/APPELLANT

Vrs.

FRANCIS AMPENYIN – DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT/RESPONDENT

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The principle of equality is equity is only applicable to spousal relationships, not those of concubinage.

Supreme Court, 25th March, 2015 (Civil Appeal: NO.J4/18/2013)

Coram: WOOD, JSC. (PRESIDING), ADINYIRA (MRS), JSC., DOTSE, JSC., BENIN, JSC., AKAMBA, JSC.

 

The Appellant commenced an action in the High Court seeking damages for a breach of promise to marry; damages for inconveniences and loss of time wasted on the Respondent; and payment of various sums specified in her Statement of Claim. The Respondent denied the Appellant’s claim and Counterclaimed for the recovery of possession of a house situate in Sekondi, among others. The said house was uncompleted when the Appellant entered into possession. The High Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim in its entirety and entered judgment for the Respondent on his Counterclaim. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court found that the Respondent had made a promise to marry the Appellant but reneged on it. The Court also found that Appellant also lived in the disputed house as a licensee. The Court thus, granted the Appellant the sum of GHC6,000.00 as general damages to ameliorate her injured feelings while it dismissed the rest of the grounds of appeal. On a further appeal to the Supreme Court, the Appellant filed two grounds of appeal, thus:

a. The Court erred in its evaluation of the evidence on record on the contribution of the Plaintiff/Appellant on the house and thereby came to a wrong decision that the Plaintiff/Appellant made no substantial contribution.

b. The decision that the Plaintiff/Appellant was in the property as a licensee was wrong in law and not supported by the evidence on record particularly when it was a fact that the parties were in concubinage relationship upon which the Appellant joined the Respondent in the house and did business together for the improvement of the house besides the Appellant’s personal contribution.

In dismissing the appeal as unmeritorious, the Supreme Court affirmed the finding of the Court of Appeal that the relationship between the parties was that of concubinage, not marriage. [Definition of Concubinage Relationship in Black’s law Dictionary, cited with approval].

The Supreme Court further held that the principle of equality is equity as applied in the cases of Mensah v Mensah [1998/99], Boafo v Boafo [2005/06] and Mensah v. Mensah [2012] SCGLR, was only applicable to a spousal relationship “which creates a status that goes with certain rights and duties which are fixed by law and custom, but the same cannot be said of concubinage relationship”. Badu v. Boakye [1975] 1 GLR, cited with approval. “The appellant having failed to prove a marriage relationship as well as any contribution to the completion of work in the house, the whole issue about the applicability of the principle [of equality is equity] becomes otiose.”

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