I INTRODUCTION TO THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK
i Ownership of real estate
Ghanaian real estate law combines common and customary law concepts. Te vast majority of land in Ghana is still communally owned by stools (stools indicate status, power and succession of chiefs and kings), but a signifcant amount of land was compulsorily acquired by the state in the colonial and post-colonial era, and some lands are owned by natural persons.
The highest interest in land under Ghanaian land law is the allodial interest. Tis interest, derived from customary law, is absolute and paramount over all other interests in land and although it is theoretically capable of being held by an individual, it is typically held by a stool, a family or by the state. Title in such lands is usually held by the chief of the stool in trust for the stool or by the family head in trust for the extended family. Te allodial holder’s rights exclude certain rights that are vested in the president such as the right to exploit rocks, minerals, ores and fossil fuels found in, under or upon the land.
The second highest interest in land is the freehold. Te law recognises both common-law and customary law freeholds. Te common law freehold is the most common form of freehold interest in Ghana outside of the rural areas. As is the case in most common-law jurisdictions, the owner of the freehold may exercise most of the rights of ownership over the land for an indefnite period, excluding the rights indicated above in relation to rocks, minerals, ores and fossil fuels. Te customary freehold historically acquired by a member of a community through exercising acts of ownership over vacant communal land still exists but is not that common, and although it may be conveyed for value, the acquirer of such land acquires a common-law freehold interest, not a customary freehold.