Case: Ghana Commercial Bank Ltd v Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (29 January 2003)

The complainant worked for the Ghana Commercial Bank for 21 years in the position of a manager. In 1984 he granted a loan facility of 6.700.000 cedis to a customer without prior permission from the head office. As this was a breach of regulations the bank terminated his appointment and withheld the entitlements of the complainant until the customer would pay the loan.

The complainant argued that he had assayed the costumer’s financial situation and the purpose of the loan and furthermore made sure the loan was secure with assets.

Part of the problem was the fact that other managers had loaned even higher amounts of money without any consequences. This led to the question if the complainant was the victim of discrimination according to Article 17 of the Constitution of Ghana (1992). It states that all persons shall be equal before the law and ensures that nobody can be treated differently due to gender, race, color, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) decided that the Bank should pay the complainant an amount of money which, but their representatives refused. They then applied to the High Court. The High Court favored with the complainant and rejected the application. The Court of Appeal, which is the next higher court that someone would apply to when the claim failed with the High Court, also upheld the decision.

The Supreme Court – the highest judicial body in Ghana – made the following comments about the arguments of the bank:

The Bank had criticized that the trial court didn’t see and examine the evidence presented before the commission. As the judge had no obligation to have ordered the production of the proceedings leading to that decision before considering her judgment this criticism had to be dismissed.

Secondly, according to the Bank the damages awarded by the court couldn’t be justified in law. The Supreme Court answered that the trial judge had no jurisdiction to have ordered the enforcement of the decision.

Last, the Commercial Bank stated that the petition was statute-barred and that the respondent Commission should not have entertained it. This argument was declared to be reasonable.