20 February 2013

Ghana: Court to Rule On Woyome Case

The Appeal Court sitting in Accra on Tuesday has set May 9, this year, to give judgment on a motion filed by the lawyers of Alfred Woyome challenging a ruling by the Commercial Court against the businessman involved in the GH¢51.2 million judgment payment.

According to the lawyers of Woyome the ruling by the Commercial Court was against the weight of evidence placed by the defendant before the court.

The state on January 16, 2012, initiated an action against Woyome, asking the Commercial Court to set aside the GH¢51.2 million consent judgment awarded to him because it was procured through fraud.

Mr. Musah Ahmed, Counsel for Woyome, stating the grounds of appeal in the amended motion filed on May 29, 2012, stated that the trial judge, Mrs. Justice Barbara Ackah, erred in law when she ruled that the plaintiff (State) could amend its claim to include the issue of constitutionality of the contract between the government and Vamed/Waterville relating to the need prior approval by parliament.

He said the judge also erred in law when she failed to follow the principle enunciated in Brutuw vrs Afariba (1984-86) 1GLR, where it would be a clear impropriety for a plaintiff to reopen his case.

He argued that the amendment granted by the Commercial Court to the State sought to re-open matters which were concluded in the consent judgment dated July 9, 2010.

He further argued that the judge failed to exercise her discretion judiciously when she took into consideration irrelevant matters such as public interest in arriving at her decision.

He said the judge erred in law when she ignored the effect of the consent judgment thereby occasioning a substantial miscarriage of justice to the appellant.

Mr. Ahmed stated that Woyome requested for certain reliefs from the court including an order for the immediate payment of the sum of GH¢41,811,480.59 being financial engineering cost owed the plaintiff by the government of Ghana.

They also requested for an order for payment of interest on the said sum from September 2006 till date of final payment as well as general damages for inconveniences suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the long delay in paying him his fees.

However, Mrs. Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, Chief State Attorney, in an affidavit in opposition to the motion stated that under the High Court rules, 2004 amendments of writ or pleadings with leave is provided for under order 16 rule 5.

She argued that C.I 47 provides a liberalized procedure for correcting error that may be made by the judge or party in the course of proceedings.

She said the procedure is based on the broad recognition that mistakes are unavoidable in the course of litigation and must not be allowed to stultify the proceedings.

She said the overriding objective of the new rules in that regard was for the beneficial utilization of the rules for amendment in order to attain expeditious, effective, complete and final adjudication thus avoiding a multiplicity of proceedings concerning the same matter.

Mrs Ansah further argued that the exercise of discretion in an application for leave to amend must address the need to allow a party to amend in order to present its case fully to the court and the inconvenience that the adversary may suffer.

On January 16, 2012, the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Martin A.B.K. Amidu, filed an affidavit to amend an earlier writ.

He prayed the court to set aside a consent judgment awarded to Woyome, which the AG alleged was procured through fraud. Mr. Amidu said the AG had received new information and there was the need to amendment the writ of summons and statement of claim filed on August 18, 2010.

In the amended writ indicated that it had come to the AG's attention that Woyome lacked the legal capacity to maintain his claim against the AG.

This is because there was no contract between Woyome and the Government of Ghana upon which Woyome could have maintained any cause of action in the suit.

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