09 Nov Ogyeadom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI -V- Ghana Telecommunications Co. Ltd. And Another (J8/131/2019)  GHASC 16(28 APRIL 2020)
“This was an appeal from an application for stay of execution which was deemed refused by the Court of Appeal.”
In the substantive case, Ogyeadom Obranu (“Respondent”) alleged that Ghana Telecommunication Ltd (“Applicant”) had encroached on his family land. At the end of the case brought before Agona Swedru the High Court, the trial judge granted the Respondent’s reliefs and awarded damages of USD 16,009,920.00 against the Applicant who appealed the decision.
The Applicant also applied to the Court of Appeal for stay of execution of the judgment, after being refused at the High Court. The court granted the application on condition that the Applicant pays 30% of the judgment debt (GHS 21, 215,040.00), which it did.
Unfortunately for the Applicant, the substantive appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The Applicant appealed to the Supreme Court from that decision and applied for stay of execution of the Court of Appeal’s judgement a day after. Though the application was granted by the Court of Appeal, the Applicant deemed it a refusal because of the terms given and repeated the application before the Supreme Court.
The Respondent contended that since the Court of Appeal had simply dismissed the substantive appeal without more, there was no executory order to stay execution of and so the Applicant was wrong to bring the application. The Respondent relied on previous decisions of the Supreme Court that where the Court of Appeal merely dismissed an appeal, then no executory order is made that could be stayed by an application for stay of execution.
The court’s task was to determine:
- whether, contrary to its previous decisions, the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to determine applications for stay of execution where the Court of Appeal merely dismissed an appeal;
- which approach to stay of execution pending appeal would do substantial justice; and
- whether the merits of the case supported a stay of execution.
The court granted the application and stated that the Supreme Court, contrary to previous decisions, by virtue of its powers under Article 129(3) & (4) of the 1992 Constitution, had jurisdiction to determine applications for stay of execution from non-executable judgments of the Court of Appeal.
Insight: The Supreme Court in doing substantial justice has now departed from the position that stay of execution will not be granted in respect of decisions dismissed by the Court of Appeal or non-executable judgments. However, this special procedural jurisdiction exercised by the Supreme Court is to be exercised with caution. Litigants can only invoke this special procedural jurisdiction if they establish basic fundamental errors in the judgment or other compelling reasons committed by the trial court or Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court will frown on frivolous applications by litigants whose aim is to solely frustrate a judgment creditor.