MAG. APP. 18/99
IN THE HIGH COURT OF SIERRA LEONE
(APPELLATE JURISDICTION) BETWEEN:
ABDULAIKAMARA & 6 ORS - APPELLANTS
VS. A.S. MANSARAY - RESPONDENT
This is an Appeal from the Judgment of Magistrate dated 6th December, 1999. The action was brought by the Complainant against all the defendants under the summary Ejectment Act Cap. 49 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960 in respect of No. 42 Edward Street, Freetown.
The brief facts as can be gleaned from the records are as follows: The Plaintiff claimed to have bought the property in question but in name of his wife Neneh Mansaray. After the purchase he served all the Defendants notice to quit but the they refused to quit. Each of the defendants were served with seven (7) days notice to quit signed by the complainant as the present owner. The Complainant could not tell the court whether the Defendant was monthly tenant or not. He told the court that he had written authority from his wife to institute the action. There was evidence that non of the defendants ever paid rent to him an there was no evidence of how much rent they were paying. The learned trial magistrate reviewed the
evidence before hand and came to the conclusion that the complainant had proved his right reversion of the tenancy and therefore gave possession to the complainant. The defendants being dissatisfied with the whole decision have appealed to the Court filing six grounds of appeal.
I observe that grounds 2 to 5 deal with the issue of title which is not within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate. I shall therefore ignore them and arguments proffered in support of them that leaves me with grounds 1 and 6 which read thus.
1. That the learned trial Magistrate erred in Law in falling to determine or properly determine the ingredient of Landlord and Tenant relationship as required by S. 7(1) of cap 49 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960
6. That the Judgment is against the weight of evidence. From the
Evidence before the lower court this is far from being a case which a Landlord terminated the tenancy of his tenant. It is a case of somebody claiming to be the present owner and when in fact he was not attempting to terminate the tenancy of those in possession and occupation of the property he claimed to have bought. The first point I observed is that the Respondents instituted the claim in his own name whereas in his evidence he deposed that the property was in the name of Neneh Mansaray. There was no evidence before the court that Neneh Mansaray was not available and if that is so that he was appointed her agent.
Lqoking at Sec. 14 of Cap 49 of the laws of Sierra Leone 1960 before a tenancy at will on sufference or for a term not exceeding ten years can be terminated, a notice which shall be in writing must be signed by the Landlord or his agent and be in the form set out in the first schedule or to the same effect e.g. signed owner, lessor or agent. See Sect. 3.of cap 49. Exhibit A1 to 7 purportedly sensed in the Appellants are of no legal effect having regard to the evidence adduced by the Respondents who signed as the present owner when he was not and when he did not sign as agent of the owner. Suffice it to say he has no locus, in the matter and therefore the Appellants were entitled to ignore the notices signed by him. The Respondent is not in law the Landlord or the person who is entitled to immediate reversion of the tenancy of the Appellants and I so hold. It is therefore in my view that the relationship of Land Lord and tenant does not. exist between the Respondent A.S. Mansaray as the person and the Appellants.
Perhaps it is necessary to state the law in respect of sale of premises. The law was first stated in 1833 by Lord Kingsdown (then Pemberton Leigh J;) in Barnhart V. Greensheelds (1833) 9 M. P.C.C. 18 at page 32. The law is that if there be a tenant in possession of land a purchaser is bound by all the equities which the tenant could enforce against the vendor, and that equity of the tenants extends not only to the interest connected with his tenancy but also to interest under collateral agreements. The principle being that the possession of the tenant is notice that he has some interest in the land and that a purchaser having notice that fact is bound according to the
ordinary rule either to ignore what interest is to give effects to it. Whatever it may be.
This Principle was granted with approval in Hunt V. Lude (1902) 1 CR. 428 per Farwel J. in the same case the Court of Appeal in (1902) 1 Ch. 432 Vangham Williams L.J, APPLYING the first rule says that if a purchaser or a mortgagees has notice that the Vendor or mortgagor is not in possession of the property, he must make enquiries of the person in possession of the tenant who is in possession and find one from him what his rights are and if he does not chose to do that then whatever title he acquires as purchaser or mortgagee until he subject to the title or right of the tenant in possession. In that case it was held that the plaintiff was bound by the arrangement made between the defendant and the lessor and could not recover from the defendant any part of the rent reserved by the lease.
In the case on appeal the capacity in which the Respondent instituted the action is a very crucial factor on which the success or failure of his action depends. He served in his own right as the present owner when he was not. Secondly before he attempted to serve the Appellant Notice to quit he did not inquire what their rights were on the property. He simply served them with seven (7) days Ejectment Notice. For all the foregoing reasons and also on the authorities cited I have not the least hesitation in holding that, the proper Order for the Court to make is that the appeal is allowed. The trial Magistrate dated 6th December, 1999 is hereby set aside with costs against the Respondent.
Miss Thomas: We are asking for cost, My instructions are to ask for Le.750,000.00
Mr. Tarawalli: We are offering Le. 350,000.00 COSTS ASSESSED AT LE. 450,000.00
(Sgd.) S.A.ADEMOSU J.