Momoh Ansumana AND Voytouich Rostislav (MISC.APP. 3/18) [2020] SLCA 4 (03 February 2020);



The brief facts necessitating this application  will  be  summarised  as follows: That  the  Judgment  dated  11th  January,  2017  was  entered  by the High Court in favour of the applicant/ respondents herein (therein referred to as the "Plaintiffs"). The Court gave  14  (fourteen)  orders in favour of the plaintiffs. Thereafter the respondents/applicants (therein referred to as the "Defendants") applied for a stay of execution  of  only 2(two) out  of  the  14  (fourteen)  orders.  That  application  was  refused. The defendants then applied to  the  Court  of  Appeal  for  a  stay  of execution of all the 14 (fourteen) orders therein. Counsel for the applicants/respondents herein took a preliminary objection to that application and  by  a  majority  ruling  dated  12th  July,  2018  his  objection  were overruled.

  1. He then filed an Originating Notice of Motion dated 9th August, 2018 to this Court in which he is seeking reliefs for judicial review of  the majority judgment on the grounds that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to give the said orders as the respondents / applicants had only applied for 2(two) orders in the High Court  and  so  could  not  be granted all the orders in the judgment when that application was  not made in the court below. Consequently,  the  respondents/ applicants  have now filed this present application that the Originating Notice of Motion dated 9th August, 2018 be struck  out on the grounds  that  it is  an abuse of the  process of the           Court.

The Notice of Motion dated 14th January, 2019 is supported  by  the affidavit of Bernard Jones to which is exhibited exhibits "A to E" respectively. There is an affidavit in opposition deposed  to  by  M.P. Fofanah   Esq.   on   21st  January,   2019.                                                                                           Both   Counsel  made  oral submissions  and  various  authorities  submitted  for  our    consideration.



Counsel for the respondents/ applicants submitted that the Originating Notice of Motion dated 9th August, 2018 be struck out on the grounds that it is an abuse of due process. He relied  on  all  the  documents as filed and submitted that the process for judicial review as prayed for on the Originating Notice Motion is not the appropriate  process  to  challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal. The crux of counsel's submissions is that the appellants/respondents have initiated  action  in this court by asking for judicial review of the ruling of 12th July, 2018 when the correct process should be by way of appeal. He further submitted if the appellants/respondents claim  that  the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction to have given the several orders on 12th July, 2018 then they should appeal the said ruling. Counsel relied on several authorities  both  within  and  outside the jurisdiction.  He laid emphasis on a submission that judicial review should not be granted where an alternate remedy is available in this case, an appeal. He  finally  submitted the process of judicial review leaves intact the decision of the Court of Appeal and opens the door for the real litigation of the issues that the Court of Appeal  has  taken a decision on.  In reply Mr. Jones Esq. submitted that this Court has supervisory jurisdiction  over  the  Court of Appeal. There is a right of appeal and judicial review but that  the authorities cited state that judicial review is not an appropriate method.                             The   latter   is   rarely   used   in   exceptional  or  special circumstances.


Counsel or the applicants/respondents relied on his affidavit in  opposition. He submitted that the affidavit in support did not disclose what is inappropriate about the process of judicial review a portion, the application herein is frivolous,  vexatious  and  lacks  merit.  He  submitted that the application is for the Court to quash the ruling  the Court of Appeal of 12th July, 2018 on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to hear  and  determine  the respondents  application  for stay of execution of certain orders without first applying to the High Court to stav those orders pursuant  to Rules  28 and  64  of the  Court of  Appeal


Rules 1985 (hereinafter called  'The Rules").                 He  laid  emphasis on the rules and submitted that his application to this  court  is  for  it  to  exercise  its  super:isory  jurisdiction   when  the  lower             court  had  no jurisdiction   to  entertain  such  an  application.                       He  also relied on Section 125 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 (hereinafter called "The Constitution") which gives this Court its supervisory jurisdiction over all lower courts by quashing any ruling/ judgment when  it  lacks such  jurisdiction.     Counsel  submitted  that  Rules  28  and    64  are mandatory in that all application for a stay of execution  a  judgment should be filed in the Court which gave the judgment and if refused to a higher court.         If a litigant does not follow this procedure   and directly goes to the higher court for a stay then that court lacks jurisdiction to  hear    that    application.                 He            relied on                  the                       authorities                  of       the respondents/  applicants    and     urged            this             court    to strike out    the application herein.


The present  application  herein  is in respect  of  one  primary  order which is that the Originating Notice of  Motion  dated  9th  August,  2018  be  struck out on the grounds  that  it  is  an  abuse  of  due  process  of  the  court.   The respondents  have  opposed  the                                                              application                                                                                                                                                      and                                                                                                                                                      has averred  that  the  remedy  sought by judicial                                                                      review                                                                           1s                                                                           the                                                                     correct procedure  and  not by way of appeal.                                                                          This                                                                        Court by Section  125 of the Constitution  1991 (hereinafter  called  "The                                                                                    Constitution")                                                                                                                                                      has supervisory  jurisdiction  over  all  Courts  in Sierra Leone

"and in exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction shall have power to zssue  such  directions,  orders  or  wrights including Writ of habeas corpus, orders of certiorari mandamus and  prohibition  as it       may                                     consider appropriate for the purposes of enforcing or security the enforcement  of the  supervisory powers".

The Supreme Court  rules  have  not  made  provision  as  to  the  procedure to  be  followed   in  relation   to  the  Writs  of  prerogative  enumerated   in




Section  125 thereof.         But  bv Rule 98 of  its  rules of 1982 (hereinafter called "The Rules)  it is expressly  provided  thus:


"98. \.t'here no provision is expressly made in these Rules relating to the original and the  supervisory  jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the  practice  and  procedure  for  the time being of the  High  Court  shall  apply  mutatis mutanclis"

Order 52 Rule 1(2) of the High Court Rules permits an application for judicial review and so too Section 19(2) (3) of the  Courts Act, Act No. 21  of 1965.

  1. Judicial   review   1s   a   court's   authority  to  examme an executive  or

legislative act and to invalidate the act if it is contrary to constitutional principles.                        The  procedure  is concerned with the                        review                        of                        the lawfulness  of  decisions  and  actions  rather  than  an appeal.                        A decision can  be questioned  on  two alternative  grounds  to wit: -

  1. That it is not within the  powers conferred  bv the statute.


  1. That any of the requirement of the statute  have  not  been complied with.

A  question     for  our   consideration   1s  whether                          the  complaint   of  the respondents   fall  within   any   of   the   grounds   referred  to  supra.               The complaint as I understand it, is that the Court of Appeal by its majority decision had acted  outside  of  the  jurisdiction,  that  is  outside  of  Rules 31 and 32 of the Court of Appeal Rules 1985 (hereinafter called "Appeal Rules").  The Court of Appeal in  the case of Ash  Bridge ln\·estments  Ltd.

v.  Minister  of Housing  and  Local Government  ( 1965)  1 WLR  page 1320,

Lord Denning MR said  that  the Court  could interfere  if the  minister:

" ..............has acted  on  no evidence  or if  he  has  come  to a conclusion to which on the evidence he could not reasonably come; or if he has given a wrong interpretation to the words of the statute; or if he ought not to have taken into account or vice versa.    It is identical  with the  position


where the Court has power to interfere with the decision of  a lower tribunal which has erred in point of  law''.


This formula was adapted in be Rothschild v Secretary of State for Transport (1989) JPL page 173 where the court stated that under  statutory review for an applicant to succeed in quashing the decision he must have been "substantially prejudiced" by the failure to comply with the statute procedural conditions.  Under  both  substantive  and procedural grounds of statutory review the Court possess a residual discretion not to quash a decision where there has been no prejudice or detriment to the applicant and to refuse judicial review in exceptional circumstance.

  1. The crux of Mr.  Fofanah  is  submission  is that  the  Court  of Appeal  had no jurisdiction to entertain an application for a stay  of execution  of  the entire judgment dated 11th January, 2017 (Exhibit "B")  when  the application for a stay  of  the  judgment  was  limited  to  paragraph  21  of the said judgment and which  stay  was  refused  by  the  High  Court  on 18th July,  2017  marked "A".   All  the  Judges  in the  Court  of Appeal have referred to  the  requisite  applicable  rules  to wit:  Rules  31,  32  and 64 Court Appeal 1985.  Rule 64  is very instructive  and  unequivocal  to  wit: -

"64. Except where otherwise  provided  in  these  rules  or any  other enactment  where any  application may  be made to the Court below or to the Court, it shall_be made in the first instance to the Court below but if the Court below refuses the application, the applicant shall be entitled  to have the application determined  by the  Court".

emphasis  added)

Th<c question then is what application? The Rule refers to "the application". This presupposes that the application made in the High Court is the same application  that should  be made.  The                                                                                        Court  of Appeal has also referred  to Rules 31 and  32  respectively.  These rules do  refer  to "the  appeal"  as  filed  and  Rule  32  refer  to  the  parties as


appella:1t and respondents not as applicants and respondents b\·\\'hich parties are referred to in cases of interlocutory applications.  Rule  32 does refer to the general powers of the Court \·is-a-vis judgments  and any orders as may be required. It does not refer to rulings which are  given  in interlocutor; applications.