Dela Coffie loses Round 1 in defamation suit

An Accra High Court has dismissed an application filed by NDC activist, Dela Coffie, seeking to strike out a defamation action brought against him by IMANI President, Mr. Franklin Cudjoe.

The court ordered Dela Coffie to file his defence within 10 days, and pay GHC1,500 to Mr. Cudjoe as costs for filing the application.

It will be recalled that on 20th March 2015, Mr. Cudjoe, filed an action against Dela Coffie, and Michael Dokosi (the Editor of the Daily Post newspaper), seeking damages totalling GHC11 million against them for publishing defamatory matters against him in the Daily Post newspaper and on Dela Coffie’s Facebook Wall.

Michael Dokosi, acting by his lawyer, David Annan, entered conditional appearance and then filed a defence. However, Dela Coffie acting by his lawyer Justice Sai, filed a motion asking the court to strike out the action, claiming that there was no reasonable cause of action and that the action was an abuse of the court’s process.

Curiously, David Annan, who had filed a defence for his client and who had no application before the court, argued in support of Dela Coffie’s application, and also urged the court to dismiss the action on the ground that a law firm cannot act for a party in court.

However, Mr. Cudjoe’s lawyer, Mr. Ace Ankomah opposed the application on the grounds that the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim contained all the necessary particulars required by law.

He also said that the application had failed to show any credible ground for saying that there had been an abuse of the court’s processes. He also responded to David Annan, by saying that once he filed a defence, he could not argue to strike out the action, especially in the absence of a formal application by him.

Friday morning, the court delivered its ruling on the application and dismissed all the grounds on which the application was based. Presiding judge, Justice Daniel Mensah, found that the particulars in Mr. Cudjoe’s Statement of Claim were sufficient and it was clear that there was a cause of action against Dela Coffie. He added that there was no basis to claim an abuse of the court’s process.

He also agreed with Mr. Cudjoe’s lawyer (Mr. Ankomah) that David Annan should have filed his own application, and that once he filed a defence after entering conditional appearance, he could not make any such application to the court. The court held that it would therefore not take David Annan’s arguments into consideration.

With the dismissal of this application, the case is to take its normal course and Dela Coffie has 10 days to file his defence to Mr. Cudjoe’s action.

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