The Environmental Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from 10 African countries on topics relating to environmental law, both substantive and procedural. The collection focuses on cases where an environmental interest interacts with governmental or private interests.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-area expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
Read also JIFA's Environmental Country Reports for SADC
This matter dealt with an appeal from the appellate court. The applicant questioned whether an appellate court could rightly formulate issues arising from a dismissed appeal in the determination of a separate appeal in the same case.
The appellant, discovered that the access road to his garage had been blocked by a trench that had been dug across it by the 1st respondent. He claimed to have suffered damages in lost revenue during the closure of the access road and was awarded special damages jointly, against the second and third respondents.
He appealed this decision claiming to have suffered more than the general public but was denied the appeal. He claimed that that the refusal of the trial court Judge to visit the place of interest affected the outcome and that the latter court had been wrong in formulating that particular issue.
This court determined that the Court of Appeal had merely referred to the fact that a visit to the place of interest would have assisted the trial court in determining whether the trench had really caused an obstruction of such immense proportions, as alleged. The court was assessing the appellant's evidence as a whole in order to decide whether he, had in fact suffered over and above what was possibly suffered by the general public
Further that the appellant had failed to prove that he had suffered damages over and above that possibly suffered by the public, or that the first respondent had caused such damage.
The matter arose from a power purchase agreement entered into by the Government of Ghana and the first defendant for the rehabilitation of a power barge.
The court considered whether the agreement constituted an international business transaction, within the meaning of Article 181(5) of the Constitution.
The court held that a business transaction is “international” within the context of article 181(5) where the nature of the business which is the subject-matter of the transaction is international, in the sense of having a significant foreign element, or the parties to the transaction (other than the Government) have a foreign nationality or reside in different countries or, in the case of companies, the place of their central management and control is outside Ghana. Accordingly, the court held that the agreement constituted an international business transaction within the meaning of Article 181(5) of the Constitution.
The court considered whether or not the arbitration provisions of the agreement constituted an international business transaction within the meaning of article 181(5) of the Constitution. An international commercial arbitration is not by itself an autonomous transaction commercial in nature which pertains to or impacts on the wealth and resources of the country and is, therefore, difficult to conceive of as a transaction independent from the transaction that generated the dispute it is required to resolve.
Accordingly, the court found that the arbitration provisions did not constitute an international business transaction within the meaning of article 181(5) of the Constitution.
The case was remitted to the High Court to apply this court’s interpretation of article 181(5) in the proceedings before it.
This Supreme Court case revolved around exploration prospecting licenses (EPL) provided by the first appellant, to the second appellant and the respondent over different mining groups of nuclear resources but in the same land.
At the High Court, the respondent challenged the first appellant’s action (the responsible minister) for giving prospecting and mining rights to another company over an area that the respondent had an EPL agreement to operate in. The High Court had quashed the first appellant’s decision in favour of the second appellant, asserting that the first appellant in offering the EPL agreement to the second appellant did not consider the interest of the respondent as required per sections 68(h) and 69(2)(c)(i) of the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act of 1992. Aggrieved, the appellants appealed.
On appeal, the main issue for consideration was whether the first appellant was justified to issue EPL over an area that the respondent had pre-existing EPL. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court stating that the first appellant was duty-bound to take into consideration the provisions of ss 68(h) and 69(2)(c)(i) of the act which requires regard to be given on what impact will the additional activities have on the existing EPL holders. The Supreme Court held that natural justice requires that a hearing must be given to the person(s) already holding EPL over an area likely to be affected with subsequent EPLs. In conclusion, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision and dismissed the appeal with costs.
The appellant sought leave to appeal the respondent’s refusal to allow access to information concerning the use of a Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) for generating electricity.
The court determined the limitations of the right to information in s 32 of the constitution and the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000; and whether the respondent was right in relying on the limitations to deny the applicants access to the information.
The court held that the right to information is not absolute since it is limited by the right to privacy as per s 36 of the constitution. The court determined whether the information required by the appellant fell within the exceptions in the act.
The court also noted that this was a technical matter that required expert evidence since experts are better qualified to draw inferences in such matters than the judicial officer. The court observed that only the respondent brought expert evidence.
The court applied s 42(3)(a) of the Information Act that entitles the respondent to refuse a request for access to a record that contains trade secrets. It found that the respondent had proved its case and that the research requested by the appellant was protected from disclosure.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed with costs.