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21ST JUNE, 1956.

WACA 231/1954

3PLR/1990/125 (SC)




SIR JOHN VERITY, Ag. F.J. (Read the Judgment of the Court)




TORT AND PERSONAL INJURY – Damages for unlawful seizure and detention of adulterated cocoa – Claim for trespass to goods – Whether sustainable – Section 19(a) (d), Produce Inspection Ordinance, 1950.

WORDS AND PHRASES – “Adulteration” – Meaning of – Cocoa (Inspec­tion for Export) Regulations, 1951.



  1. Oseni (with him S. O. Abudu) -for the Appellant.

Walker, Crown Counsel, – for the Respondents.



VERITY, AG. F.J. (Delivering the Judgment of the Court):

In this case the plaintiff claimed damages as against the defendants for unlawful seizure and detention of a quantity of cocoa and for trespass upon his premises. The defendants, who are produce officers within the meaning of the Produce In­spection Ordinance 1950, sought to show that their acts were justified by vir­tue of the provisions of that Ordinance. The learned trial Judge so found and the plaintiff has appealed.

A great deal of ground was covered in the argument before us but in my view the real issues to be determined fall within a very small compass.

It is to be observed that the Ordinance to which I have referred applied only to produce for export and that section 19 thereof relates to produce the subject of regulations made under the Ordinance. The appellant admitted under cross-examination that he knew that the firm to whom he proposed to sell the cocoa would export it and the subject matter of the claim therefore falls within the scope of the Ordinance. It is moreover produce in respect of which regulations have been made under the Ordinance, that is to say the Cocoa (Inspection for Export) Regulations 1951, and it falls therefore within the scope of section 19 of the Ordinance.

The relevant paragraphs of section 19 provide (inter alia) that any pro­duce officer shall have power under paragraph (a) “to enter at all times which are reasonable….. any building or place in which he has reason to suppose that any produce which is subject to regulations made under this Ordi­nance is stored..”

and under paragraph (d)

“to seize and detain any produce which he reasonably suspects to have been adulterated…”

The cocoa in question was in fact stored in a building or place described by the appellant as his “private store” and by the respondents as a “house” and I am satisfied that this comes within the meaning of paragraph (a) of the section for I am unable to entertain for a moment the submission of Counsel for the appellant that the words “building or place” are to be construed to mean any building or place appointed as a marketing or inspection station by regulations made under section 8 of the Ordinance.

In my view, therefore, the learned Judge rightly held that the entry by the respondents was authorised by law and did not constitute a trespass. In regard to the application of paragraph (d) of section 19 it is to be ob­served that the officer is empowered to seize any produce which he reasona­bly suspects to have been adulterated. Provided there are grounds upon which he may reasonably so suspect, it is immaterial whether or not upon further examination it should prove that the produce is in fact adulterated. In the present case the learned Judge was satisfied upon evidence which was, in my view, adequate that upon an examination by the respondents on the spot of quantities of cocoa scooped out of as many bags as possible, they found that upwards of 83% of the cocoa was defective within the meaning of regulation 2 of the Regulations to which I have referred, that is to say, mouldy, weevily, decayed, germinated or flat.


“Adulteration” is defined by the regulation to include the combination together of a quantity of cocoa which is of such quality that it can be graded and passed for export with a quantity which is of such quality that it cannot be so graded by reason of the fact that it contains fifteen per centum or more of mouldy, weevily, decayed or flat beans or twenty per centum or more of defective beans.

I cannot conceive what better grounds the officers could have had for reasonably suspecting the cocoa to have been adulterated than in finding in samples taken from a number of bags more than four times the proportion of defective beans prescribed by the regulations to constitute adulteration.


It appears to me to be quite unnecessary to consider, as Counsel for the appellant wished the court to do, whether upon a further inspection strictly in accordance with regulation 5 it would have been found that the appellant had committed on offence under section 17 of the Ordinance as amended by section 2 of the Produce Inspection (Amendment) Ordinance 1951, or under any of the Regulations or whether or not he has been convicted or acquitted upon a charge for any such offence. It is sufficient to justify the seizure that there were at the time thereof grounds for reasonably suspecting that the cocoa had been adulterated.


No argument was addressed to us specifically related to the alleged de­tention of the cocoa as distinct from its seizure, but it may be desirable to ob­serve that there is evidence, indeed it is admitted by the appellant, that upon the failure of certain proceedings brought against him he was informed that he was at liberty to remove the cocoa and that he did not do so. It may be true that he was warned of the probable consequence of being found sub­sequently in possession thereof but it is worthy of remark that he further ad­mitted that he was willing to leave the cocoa because “he wanted no cocoa but wanted money.”


In all these circumstances I am of the opinion that the learned Judge in the Court below was right in dismissing the appellant’s claim and that this ap­peal should also be dismissed with costs.


FOSTER SUTTON, F.C.J.: I concur.


IRWIN, AG. F.J.: I concur.


Appeal Dismissed.


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