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10.05.2007 Business & Finance

Businessman locks up GIHOC subsidiary factory

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The agents of Jean Hanna Assi, a Lebanese, yesterday locked up the factory and warehouses of GIHOC Refrigeration and Household Products Limited, apparently to effect a Supreme Court ruling.

The lock-up was undertaken in spite of a motion for stay of execution filed by GIHOC Refrigeration and Household Products Limited against the Supreme Court's ruling that the land on which the company is situated at North Industrial Area in Accra, and its property be returned to Jean Assi.

About 40 workers in the factory were sent out before the premises was locked up with padlocks.

The company filed the motion for stay of execution last Monday May 7.

The Supreme Court on April 7, in a six-to-one majority granted Mr Assi's application for judicial review that sought to ask for an order for the title to the land in dispute and recovery of possession.

Not satisfied with the decision of the court, the GIHOC filed the motion pending trial to restrain Mr Assi from executing or enforcing the Supreme Court's judgment concerning Plot 129, Ring Road Industrial Area in Accra.

GIHOC, state-owned company wants a declaration that the judgment given by the High Court on June 4, 2003 and subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court to the effect that GIHOC was on the disputed land as Mr Assi's licensee and therefore its possession did not amount to adverse possession was still a nullity and the Supreme Court should not have considered that.

They also want a declaration that "all orders, reliefs or benefits granted to Mr Assi on the basis that GIHOC was or is Mr Assi's licensee on the disputed land, are also a nullity and have no legal force."

Furthermore, they want an order to set aside the said judgment together with all declarations, orders, reliefs and benefits granted Mr Assi and an order of perpetual injunction to restrain him from enforcing the said judgment and reliefs granted to him by the courts in that suit.

In their statement of claim, GIHOC said in 1982, the PNDC government confiscated General Cold Industry Limited, managed by Mr Assi, and handed it over to GIHOC to operate as one of its subsidiaries.

"The defendant was at all material times leasehold owner of the disputed land and had by virtue of his interest in the control of the company been operating its business on that plot," they said.

Mr Assi in 1997, instituted a legal action at the High Court against GIHOC to eject them on the grounds that GIHOC was a trespasser but at that time, General Cold Industrial Limited had long been changed to GIHOC Refrigeration and Household Products Limited and it became statute barred so Mr Assi discontinued the case.

GIHOC in 2000 instituted a fresh action at the High Court against Assi for a declaration that GIHOC's title to the plot had been extinguished by adverse possession of GIHOC from 1982 to 2000.

GIHOC argued that Mr Assi had become a trespasser on the plot when it was confiscated in 1982 and since they had possessed the plot for more than 12 years, Mr Assi's title to the plot had been extinguished and they had acquired the plot as the new owner by adverse possession.

The High Court, presided over by Justice Anthony K. Abada dismissed GIHOC's action on the basis that its possession was with the licence of the government and so it did not amount to adverse possession.

GIHOC appealed against the High Court's decision at the Court of Appeal where the second highest court on April 15, 2005 agreed with the trial court that GIHOC's possession was not adverse but however set aside the order for recovery of possession.

GIHOC again appealed at the Supreme Court and in its judgment on February 1, last year, the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal that GIHOC's possession was non-adverse.

Mr Assi then filed for a judicial review where all his reliefs, including the recovery of possession was granted.

GIHOC contends that "the Supreme Court decision was a nullity because it was based on extraneous matter, namely the licence of the defendant which was not part of the matter which called for decision at the trial court and to the extent that the decision was an extraneous decision which was given in want or excess of jurisdiction in this suit."

Source: The Ghanaian Times

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