Matrimonial Jurisdiction of the District Court docket – Settling the Jurisdictional Controversy.

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Frederick Gurah Sampson

Introduction.

Jurisdiction in law is fundamental. It is the power or authority upon which a person or a body acts. Without the requisite jurisdiction, a person, whether natural or juristic, is not clothed with the power to act in a certain manner. It is trite learning that jurisdiction is so fundamental an issue in every matter that even if it is not raised or questioned by any of the parties, it is crucial for a court to avert its mind to it to assure a valid outcome. The Court must ask itself and answer in the affirmative that it has jurisdiction to entertain or proceed in the matter. The learned authors of Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary,[1] have explained the concept of jurisdiction thus:

In its narrow and strict sense the jurisdiction of a validly constituted court connotes the limits which are imposed upon its power to hear and determine issues between persons seeking to avail themselves of its process by reference to (i) the subject matter of the issue, (ii) the persons between whom the issue is joined; or (iii) the kind of relief sought, or to any combination of those factors.”

Any step taken without jurisdiction is void and has no legal effect (Lord Denning in MacFoy v. UAC).[2] See also the case of Mosi v. Bagyina[3]

The jurisdiction of the District Court in matrimonial matters especially regarding marriages under the Ordinance has engaged the minds of practitioners, judges and legal academics. While some argue that the District Court does not have jurisdiction in dissolving marriages contracted under the Ordinance, others, including the author, are of the view that, the District Court has jurisdiction to dissolve marriages contracted under the Ordinance.

In this piece, the author shall attempt an exposition on the law, looking at the arguments on both sides, attempt a critique of the position that the District Court lacks jurisdiction in such matters, review and critique a judicial decision that held that the District Court does not have jurisdiction in matrimonial causes under Ordinance, and finally demonstrate why the District Court is clothed with jurisdiction to dissolve marriages under the Ordinance.

The judiciary is made up of both Superior and Lower or Inferior courts[4]. The Superior Courts are the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court and Regional Tribunals[5]. The lower or inferior Courts are the Circuit Courts, the District Magistrate Courts and other tribunals as Parliament may by law establish. The jurisdiction of the Courts is conferred upon them by statute law. It is trite that the Superior Courts have jurisdiction in all matters except those expressly taken away by law, while the lower courts do not have jurisdiction unless those expressly conferred on them by law.[6] This means that for one to say that a lower court has jurisdiction over a particular issue, there must be an express provision of law that confers the jurisdiction on that body.

Argument that the District Court lacks of jurisdiction

The proponents of this view argue that the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1971 (Act 367) (MCA) does not confer jurisdiction on the District Court in the dissolution of marriages contracted under Ordinance. To the proponents of this view, once the dissolution concerns a marriage contracted under the Ordinance, the appropriate forum is either the Circuit Court or the High Court as a court of first instance. Proponents of this view rely on Section 43 of the MCA which provides that: “In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, Court means, subject to section 40, the High Court or a Circuit Court.”[7] Section 40 of the MCA is titled Transfer of undefended actions. The full text says that: “The Chief Justice may by writing personally signed by the Chief Justice transfer an undefended action under this Act from the High Court or a Circuit Court to a District Court, and the Court shall have jurisdiction”.

The main argument is that under the MCA, a Court is defined to be either the High Court or the Circuit Court and because the MCA does not mention the District Court as having jurisdiction or in its definition of a court, the District Court lacks jurisdiction. They further construe section 40 of the MCA as implying that the only way the District Court may have jurisdiction in matrimonial causes under the Ordinance is where the learned Chief Justice transfers an undefended suit to the District Court, without which no District Court shall have jurisdiction over the dissolution of marriages under the Ordinance.

This position with respect is legally untenable. The MCA and the provision referred to in Section 43 only defines a Court as used by the MCA and in no way confers a jurisdiction on a court.

This position has been adopted by His Lordship Justice Bright Mensah in the case of the Republic v. The District Court, Sekondi, Ex Parte Martin Offei, Sally Offei Interested Party[8]. The Honourable High Court Judge held inter alia that the District Magistrate Court lacked jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage contract under Ordinance. This decision was as a result of an application invoking the Supervisory Jurisdiction of the High Court to quash a decision of the Sekondi District Court through certiorari.

The facts of the case admit of no ambiguity. The Interested Party and Applicant were married under customary law. On 21st December 2013, the Interested Party and the Applicant converted their customary marriage into a marriage under the Ordinance (under Cap 127). The conversion took place at the Upper Room Assemblies of God Church, Kwesimintim, Takoradi. The Interested Party instituted a divorce proceeding against the Applicant in the District Court, which Court gave a judgment on 29th September, 2017. In the instant application, it is the contention of the Applicant that the Respondent Magistrate Court lacked jurisdiction in hearing and determining the petition for the dissolution which related to a marriage under the Ordinance. On the basis of the alleged lack of jurisdiction, the Applicant avers that the decision of the District Magistrate Court is null and void and of no legal effect. The Applicant therefore prayed the Honorable High Court to quash the decision of the District Court, Sekondi.

The learned High Court judge granted the application and held that the District Magistrate Court lacked jurisdiction in hearing and determining the petition for divorce. The learned High Court judge reviewed the law thus “First s. 47 (1)(f) of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459) enacted that a District Court shall within the area of its jurisdiction have civil jurisdiction in divorce and other matrimonial causes or matters and actions for paternity and custody of children [where the law applicable is exclusively customary law].” (Emphasis mine). He continues thus:

“The law that however seeks to give jurisdiction in matrimonial causes other than customary law marriages to the District Court provides in s.47(1)(f) of Act 620 that the District Court shall have jurisdiction in divorce and other matrimonial causes or matters and actions for paternity”. His Lordship then proceeds to resolve the issue thus “Prima facie, the law now appears to give jurisdiction in matrimonial causes under the Matrimonial Causes Act, (Act 367) also to the District Court. However, it is the judgment of this court that on the application of generalia specialibus non derogant, the exclusive jurisdiction to determine any matrimonial issue brought under the Act i.e. Act 367 is restricted only to the High Court and Circuit Court. Not even the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in the matter unless it was through the normal appeal process from either the High Court or Circuit Court to the Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court. I do therefore, endorse the erudite submissions of the learned Counsel for the Applicant that the Sekondi District Court lacked jurisdiction in the matter.”

It is interesting that His Lordship resolved this issue by resort to one rule of interpretation (generalia specialibus non derogant) which is to the effect that, when a general legislation provides for an issue and a specific legislation also provides for same, in the instance where there is a conflict between the two legislation, the specific legislation prevails. In this instant case therefore, the Court concluded that since the MCA is a specific legislation and the Courts Act being a general legislation, the provisions in the MCA must prevail hence the decision that the District Court lacks jurisdiction. On the contrary, it can also be argued that regarding jurisdiction, the Courts Act is the specific legislation and applying this same rule of generalia specialibus non derongant will lead to a different position arrived at by His Lordship Bright Mensah.

This rule of interpretation (generalia specialibus non derogant) has been adopted by the Supreme Court in some cases. The Supreme Court in the case of Bonney & 4,174 Others v. GPHA[9] had to determine which law will prevail regarding the limitation period for a cause of action. The Limitations Act had provided a limitation period of six (6) years for bringing an action before the Court. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority Act, 1986 (P.N.D.C.L 160) had provided the limitation period to be twelve (12) months for a person to mount an action. The Supreme Court had to determine, between the general law on Limitations (i.e. Limitations Act) and the specific legislation (P.N.D.C.L 160) which one ought to prevail on the limitation period within which an action could be mounted. Their Lordships restated the principle of Generalia Specialisbus Non Derogant thus:

“Whenever there is a general enactment in a statute which if taken in its most comprehensive sense, would override a particular enactment in the same statute, the particular enactment must be operative, and the general enactment must be taken to affect only the parts of the statute to which it may properly apply”[10] and delivered themselves succinctly thus “In this case therefore, the Limitation period of 12 months under the Ports and Habours Authority Law overrides the Limitation period of 6 years under the Limitation Act in actions founded on contract”.

In the case of Re Parliamentary Election For Wulensi Constituency: Zakaria v. Nyimakan[11], the Court had occasion to rely on this principle to resolve an alleged internal inconsistency in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana on whether or not in an action to challenge the election of a Member of Parliament, there is a further right of appeal to the Supreme Court or the decision of the Court of Appeal is final.[12] The Court held that since Article 99(2) is specific on challenging the election of a Member of Parliament, there is not further right of further appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court relied on the generalia specialibus non derogant rule to arrive at that decision.

The above shows that there is some usefulness in this rule of interpretation, except to say that it was wrongly applied in the case of Republic v The District Court, Sekondi, Ex Parte Martin Offei, Sally Offei Interested Party which led the Honourable court to fall in a grave error in the respectful view of the author.

Argument that the District Court has jurisdiction.

The other school of thought, to which the author belongs, argue that the District Court has jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of Courts is conferred upon it either by the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992 or by a Statute, principally the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459). For instance, the 1992 Constitution confers jurisdiction on the High Court in all matters both civil and criminal.[13]

The Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459) in section 47 provides for the civil jurisdiction of the District Court. The section provides that:

“A District Court shall, within the area of its jurisdiction, have civil jurisdiction, (a) in personal actions arising under a contract or a tort for the recovery of a liquidated sum of money where the money does not exceed ten million cedis. (note that this amount has been increased to twenty thousand Ghana Cedis GHS20,000.00),[14] (b) to grant, in an action instituted in the District Court, injunctions or order to stay waste or alienation, or for the detention and preservation of property which is the subject matter of that action, or restrain a breach of contract or the commission of a tort; (c) in claims for relief by way of interpleader in respect of land or any other property attached in execution of [a decree] [an order] made by the District Court; (d) in civil [causes or matters] relating to the landlord and tenant of premises as required or authorized by a law relating to landlord and tenant; (e) in actions relating to ownership, possession or occupation of land, where the value of the land does not exceed ten million cedis (amended to twenty thousand Ghana cedis); (f) in divorce and other matrimonial [causes or matters] and actions for paternity and custody of children; (g) in an application for the grant of letters of administration in respect of the estate of a deceased person, and in [causes and matters] relating to succession to property of a deceased person, who had at the time of death a fixed place of abode within the area of jurisdiction of the District Court and the value of the estate or property in question does not exceed ten million cedis (amended to twenty thousand Ghana Cedis) and (hear and determine charges and dispose of any other matters affecting juveniles, that is persons under the age of eighteen)”.

It is seen that the current section 47(1)(f) of the Court Act, did not limit the jurisdiction of the District Court to marriages where the law applicable is exclusively customary law, as did the old provision.

From the above, it is seen that the Courts Act expressly confers jurisdiction in matrimonial matters (without distinction). The Courts Act is one of the principal legislation that provide the jurisdiction of courts. Indeed, the long title of the Courts Act provides that the Courts Act is ”An act to incorporate into the law relating to the Courts, the provisions of Chapter Eleven of the Constitution, to provide for the jurisdiction of Regional Tribunals, to establish lower courts, provide for their composition and jurisdiction, (emphasis mine) to consolidate the Courts Act, 1971 and to provide for related matters. To this school of thought, the law expressly grants this jurisdiction, unlike the other school of thought where the basis of the argument is a mere definition of a court in the MCA.

The above presents the two main arguments on these important positions.

Resolution and reasoning as to why the District Court has jurisdiction.

The author is of the view that the District Court has jurisdiction in matrimonial causes whether the marriage is under customary law[15] or under the Ordinance. The first reason for so arguing is that, the Courts Act expressly confers the jurisdiction on the District Court without any distinction. The current section 47(1)(f) expressly confers the jurisdiction. So the law maker not only intended to confer such but actually gave the jurisdiction to the District Court in express terms. On the authority of Timitimi v. Amabebe[16] among others, that lower judicial bodies do not have jurisdictions unless what is expressly provided by law, it is evident that the District Court, being a lower court, has been expressly granted jurisdiction in matrimonial matters without distinction between the type or nature of the marriage, whether Ordinance or Customary.

Secondly, one can appeal to the purpose of the Courts Act. The purpose of the Courts Act, like all other legislation, is seen in its long title or the preamble to the Act. With specific regard to the Courts Act, the long title provides that the Courts Act is an “Act to incorporate into the law relating to the Courts, provisions of Chapter Eleven of the Constitution, to provide for the jurisdiction of Regional Tribunals, to establish lower courts, provide for their composition and jurisdiction, to consolidate the Courts Act, 1971 and to provide for related matters.” (Emphasis mine). The Courts Act itself indicates that its purpose includes the establishment of lower courts and conferring their jurisdiction. The long title therefore is clear that the lawmaker intended to give such jurisdiction to the District Courts.  In statutory interpretation, the parts of a statute are instructive and in this case, the Preamble and long title are instructive. In law, the long title and preamble form part of the statute and assists the court in construing the purpose of the Act. The interpretation Act provides that “The long title and preamble form part of an Act intended to assist in explaining the intent and object of the Act”.[17] This means that, if the intention and purpose of an Act is in doubt, resort can be made to the long title or preamble of same. The Court has held that “The preamble cannot control the enacting part of the statute, in cases where the enacting part is expressed in clear, unambiguous terms, but in case any doubt arises on the enacting part, the preamble may be resorted to explain it and show the intention of the law maker.” The learned jurist and author Justice Sir Dennis Adjei in his book[18] said thus:

“The long title and preamble are used to explain the intent and object of the Act and where there is any ambiguity in the operative part and the preamble is clear, the preamble governs the construction….” He continues thus “Preamble helps the courts to understand the object of the Act and mischief the law sought to cure. A preamble is that narrative part of an enactment and it gives semblance of its objective”.

The Supreme Court speaking through Dotse JSC held in the case of Customs Excise and Preventive Service v. National Labour Commission

“In making use of the preamble of Act 526, I am aware of the fact that a preamble to an Act of Parliament is only a narrative of facts that gave rise to the passage of the Act and will give a semblance of the main objective of the Act. It thus gives a historical basis for the passage of the Act and can be described as the gateway to understanding the reasons why the Act was enacted and the problem which it is meant to solve.”[19]

Having established the importance of the preamble and long title to an Act, one will have a challenge to accept that in the full glare of the Courts Act showing that among its purpose is to establish lower courts and provide for their jurisdiction, the District Court does not have jurisdiction in matrimonial matters under the ordinance, only because another Statute, the MCA, in defining a court under the Act limits same to the High Court or Circuit Court.

Thirdly, it is trite law that the rules of interpretation are servants and not masters, they are handmaidens and not mistresses.[20] They are used to assist in construction of statutes and not to be followed slavishly. It implies that one rule of interpretation should not bind a court in construing a statute such that, that conclusion will lead to an absurdity. Lord Reid[21] makes the point clearer when he says “the literal, golden and mischief rules are not ‘rules’ in the ordinary sense of having a binding force. They are our servants not our masters. They are aids to construction, presumption or pointers. Not infrequently one rule points in one direction, another in another direction. In each case we must look at all relevant circumstances and decide as a matter of judgment what weight to attach to any rule.” Assuming without admitting that the MCA is a specific legislation and therefore same should prevail over the Courts Act which is a general statute, one can also argue that by another principle of interpretation, the Courts Act being a more recent statute[22]as compared to the MCA[23], the Courts Act may have an effect of an implied amendment of the MCA as far it relates to the jurisdiction of the courts. The Latin Maxim is ‘leges posteriores priores constrarias abrogant’ which means that where the provisions of a later document are contrary to those of an earlier, the earliest must be considered as repealed, or better still, “If two inconsistent acts be passed at different times, the last is to be obeyed; and if obedience cannot be observed without derogating from the first, it is the first which must give way.[24] Caleb Nelson writes thus “ …..leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant– later laws abrogate contrary prior ones.[25] An English Jurist[26] summarized this principle thus “where words are clearly repugnant in two laws, the later law takes place of the elder: leges posteriores priores contrarias abrongant is a maxim of universal law, as well as of our own constitutions.”

In the subject under discussion, it is the author’s view that between the Courts Act and the MCA, the Courts Act actually and expressly confers jurisdiction, whereas the MCA only seeks to define a Court under the MCA; that ought not to be seen as conflicting. But even if the two laws are seen as conflicting, regard must be had to which of the law was later in time. The Courts Act 1993 (Act 459) was enacted in 1993 and received Presidential Assent on the 6th day of July, 1993. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1971 (Act 367) was enacted in 1971 and received Presidential Assent on the 7th day of September, 1971. By the application of the maxim, leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant, the later statute is the Courts Act which must prevail over the MCA. His Lordship Justice Bright Mensah in the case of Republic v. District Court Sekondi, Ex Parte Martin Offei,  Sally Offei Interested Party supra could have equally applied this maxim in his interpretation to resolve the conflicting situation, especially so when he admitted in his judgment that the current state of the law (section 47(1)(f) of the Court Act, 1993 (Act 459) as amended by Act 620) gives jurisdiction to the District Court to hear proceedings for dissolution where the marriage is under the Ordinance.

Another canon of interpretation has it, that when an interpretation of a statute or document will yield two results, one that nullifies and the other that validates the statute, the one that validates the statute is preferred as opposed to the one that nullifies the statute or document. The maxim is Ut res magis valeat cum pereat which literally means that it is better for a thing to have an effect than to be made void, which means that it is better to validate instead of invalidating. This is also called ‘saving the document’. Chitty on Contracts explains this maxim thus “If the words used in an agreement are susceptible of two meanings, one of which would invalidate the instrument or the particular clause in an instrument, and the other render it void, ineffective, the former should be adopted”.

This maxim implies that when a judge is confronted or approached with a document or statute which is susceptible to two meanings, the Court must always avoid choosing the meaning that would render it void or illegal at the expense of the meaning that would save the law or the document and would give effect to the intentions of its author or the purpose of the law.[27]

The Supreme Court applied this rule in the case of Davies v. Attorney General and Electoral Commission[28]when it said inter alia that “The provision in article 47(6) of the 1992 Constitution was somewhat ambiguous. It was, however, well settled that where the language of a statute was ambiguous so as to admit of two constructions, the consequences of the alternative construction must be considered, and that construction must not be adopted which would lead to public mischief, or great inconvenience, inconsistency, unreasonableness or absurdity, or to great harshness or injustice.” See also the case of Ransford France (No. 3) v. Electoral Commission and Attorney General (No. 3)[29]

In applying this maxim, an interpretation that will save the relevant provision of the Courts Act i.e., section 47(1) (f) must prevail.

Fourthly, a construction leading to the conclusion arrived at by Justice Bright Mensah in the case of Republic v The District Court, Sekondi Ex Parte Martin Offei, Sally Offei Interested Party will lead to an absurdity or a nuclear meltdown which must be prevented. Such a conclusion will mean that over thousands of marriages under the Ordinance which have been dissolved by the various District Courts will all be null and void. The Supreme Court in the case of Ransford France (No.3) v. AG (No.3)[30] took a similar position when the Plaintiff urged on their Lordships that by virtue of Article 51 of the 1992 Constitution, the Electoral Commission must exercise certain powers under Article 51 by passing the necessary constitutional instruments. Their Lordships, aware of several precedents in which the Electoral Commission had acted without any such compliance, held that, to so hold will lead to a nuclear meltdown and the invalidation of several previous decisions. Their Lordships had this to say “…However, such an expansive literal interpretation would lead to grave mischief. It would lead to a nuclear melt-down, so to speak, of government, as we have known it since 1969. It would be thoroughly impractical for public officials and agencies in general to publish regulations governing their discretions before they could exercise them, on pain of invalidity of those discretionary decisions. Literally thousands of decisions already taken by public officials and agencies since 1969 would be rendered invalid and would have to be declared so by this Court. These invalid decisions would include the last creation of additional constituencies in 2004, by the Representation of People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument 2004 (CI 46).”

In applying this rule of construction, the District Court has in time past assumed and rightly exercised jurisdiction in many matrimonial causes in the country where the marriages were contracted under the Ordinance. Assuming without admitting that the District Court does not have jurisdiction, one would wonder what happens to all the matrimonial causes that the various District Courts in the country have determined?The obvious implication will be the invalidation of all such dissolutions. The District Court, just like the Circuit Court and other Superior Courts, has its procedural rules. The District Court Rules[31] provides for the procedure for hearing matrimonial causes. Although the law is that jurisdiction is not conferred by procedural rules but by substantive legislation[32], it is inconceivable for one to argue that the District Court lacks jurisdiction in matrimonial causes yet its procedural rules provides for same.

Last but not the least and flowing from the immediate point, one can also appeal to long practice which can over time acquire some binding force. His Lordship Justice Taylor in the case of Harlley v. Ejura Farms (Ghana) Limited[33] identified the three yardsticks by which justice is dispensed as follows “In these Courts, we dispense justice in accordance with three and only three yardsticks. Statute law, case law and well known practice of our courts.” (emphasis mine). This implies that aside statute or case law, a well-known and accepted practice can become part of the yardsticks by which justice is administered.  Practice or experience in the courts is an aid to interpretation and it supplements statute law and case law. District Courts have as a matter of practice rightly asserted jurisdiction over matrimonial causes under Ordinance, such that even in the absence of statute law or case law, one cannot argue that it will of a sudden not have jurisdiction. On the importance of practice as an aid to interpretation see the case of Michael Essien v. Veralight Deladem Ackumey, [34]dictum of Marful JA (as he then was).

One cannot conclude this piece without a critique of the decision of Justice Bright Mensah in the case of Republic v. District Court Sekondi, Ex Parte Martin Offei, Sally Offei Interested Party cited supra. Without sounding repetitive, one can see from the decision that, His Lordship accurately in the author’s view, came to the right conclusion that the current state of the Courts Act as amended by Act 620 confers jurisdiction on the District Court to hear and determine matrimonial causes whether the applicable law was custom or ordinance. The author is of the opinion that the learned Judge fell into an error when he relied solely on one rule of interpretation and arrived at the conclusion that, the MCA being a specific legislation must prevail over the Courts Act which in his view was a general legislation.  It is the view of the author, that if the learned High Court Judge, had averted his mind to the other rules or aids to interpretation advanced above, he would have reached a different conclusion from what he reached and would not have fallen into such a grave error. Without sounding legally prophetic, the author is of the view that, given an opportunity a higher court may reverse or set aside the decision in the case of Republic v. District Court Sekondi; Ex parte Martin Offei, Sally Offei Interested Party.

 

Conclusion.

The foregoing represents the reasoning behind the author’s opinion that the District Court has jurisdiction in matrimonial causes. The Courts Act that has as part of its object the creation of and conferment of jurisdictions on lower courts, expressly confers jurisdiction in matrimonial causes without distinguishing between customary and ordinance marriages. It is therefore without any legal merit for one to argue otherwise that the District Court lacks jurisdiction, especially so when the old law (section 41(1)(f) of Act 459) which limited the jurisdiction only to marriages under customary law was amended by Act 620 by the deletion of ‘where the law applicable is customary law’ from the relevant section. It is the author’s view, respectfully that the District Court has the jurisdiction to entertain within its geographical area, any matrimonial cause whether the marriage is under Custom or Ordinance.

[1] 4th ed. Vol. 3 at page 1452

[2] MacFoy v UAC 1961 3 All ER 1169 (PC) at 1172 per Denning MR…. If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of the Court to set it aside. It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes convenient to have the Court declare it to be so.

[3] [1963] 1 GLR 337 SC, coram Van Lare, Mills-Odoi and Akuffo-Addo JJ.S.C.

[4] Article 126 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana

[5] ibid

[6] See Timitimi v Amabebe 14 WACA 374

[7] Matrimonial Causes Act (Act 367)

[8] Suit No. E9/28/18 Unreported, decision dated April 09, 2018

[9] Civil Appeal No. J4/39/2012 judgment dated 29th January, 2014

[10] Halsbury’s Laws of England 4th edition volume 44 paragraph 785

[11] [2003-2004] SCGLR 1

[12] Article 99(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

[13] Article 140 of the 1992 Constitution

[14] L.I 2211, It is worthy of note that the financial jurisdiction of the District Court has been extended by L.I 2201 to Twenty Thousand Ghana Cedis. L.I. 2201 was passed on the 18th December, 2014 but entered into force on the 5th of March 2015.

[15] Section 41(2) MCA “On application by a party to a marriage other than a monogamous marriage, the Court shall apply the provisions of this Act to that marriage, and in so doing, subject to the requirements of justice, equity and good conscience, the Court may……..”

[16] Supra

[17] Section 13 of Interpretation Act 2009 (Act 792)

[18] Modern Approach to the Law of Interpretation in Ghana, 138

[19] Customs Excise and Preventive Service v National Labour Commission [1999-2000] SCGLR 697

[20] Ghana Textiles Printing Company Limited v Ankujean and Others, [1999-2000] 2 GLR 473

[21] Maunsell v Olins [1975] AC 373, [1975] 1 All ER 16

[22] Enacted in 1993

[23] Enacted in 1971

[24] Sedgwick, T., The Interpretation and Construction of Statutory and Constitutional Law (1874)

[25] Caleb. Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 236 (2000)

[26] Sir William Blackstone

[27] Dennis Adjei, Modern Approach to the Law of Interpretation in Ghana @ 147

[28] [2012] 2 SCGLR 1155

[29] [2012] 1 SCGLR 705

[30] [2012] 1 SCGLR 705

[31] District Court Rules, 2009 (CI 59)

[32] Republic v High Court, Commercial Division A) Tamale Ex Parte Dakpem Zobogunaa Henry Kaleem (Substituted by Alhaji Alhassan I. Dakpema) – Applicant, Dakpema Naa Alhassan Mohammed Dawuni Interested Party, Civil Motion No. J5/6/2015 dated 4th June, 2015.

[33] [1977] 2 GLR 179

[34] Civil Appeal No. H1/261/2010