The stool occupants accountability regime under Ghana’s Land Act, 2020: Overdue reform or overmuch regulation?
If there is one law that prides itself for being an assortment of provisions on various subjects of societal relevance, it is the Land Act .

A: Introduction

If there is one law that prides itself for being an assortment of provisions on various subjects of societal relevance, it is the Land Act[1]. The Land Act, as the name implies, is a law that deals with land. It covers the different types of interests in land, sale and purchase of land and registration of title to land, and so forth. In addition to these obvious topics on land that any land law worth its name will cover, the Land Act has the unique feature of being a mixed bag of various subject-matter. For instance, the Land Act has provisions relating to how spousal property must be distributed or shared when there is death or divorce[2]. Thus, for the first time since the 1992 Constitution came into force, an attempt has been made to comply with Article 22 of the Constitution to pass a law to regulate the property rights of spouses. And that attempt materialised in the Land Act. All things considered, a more comprehensive and stand-alone law on the property rights of spouses would have been preferable.

Another example of a broader-than-land subject that has found its way into the Land Act is the stool or skin occupants and clan heads accountability provisions.[3] This article discusses the historical antecedents of the provisions on accountability for persons who hold positions that require good faith. It argues that a stool/skin/clan head accountability law should have been passed long ago to regulate the fiduciary obligations of chiefs/tendaana/clan heads as is the case for heads of families. The article concludes that the stool occupants accountability provisions in the Land Act is a welcome development, though a stand-alone law would have covered more grounds and would have had more depth.


B: Customary law rules on stool occupant and head of family roles in protecting stool and family property.

Under customary law, the occupant of a stool (while the stool is vacant, the regent or caretaker of such stool) or head of family may sue and be sued on behalf of the stool or family. An illustrative case will suffice here: in the case of Bukuruwa Stool v Kumawu Stool,[4] Nana Kwame Baadu II, chief of Bukuruwa, representing the Bukuruwa stool sued Nana Otuo Achampong I, representing the Kumawu stool, for declaration of title to a piece of land in Kwahu.

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