Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Republic of Ghana, presented a paper at the Department of Integrated Social Sciences’ Seminar held on Wednesday, the 22nd of November 2023, at the South Legon campus of the University. Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe spoke on -asset acquisition under the intestate succession act, 1985 (PNDC 111) and the survival of the traditional inheritance systems in Ghana.
The Intestate Succession Act, 1985 (PNDC 111) is presently the legislation governing the distribution of the estate of a man (or woman) who dies intestate or without a will. PNDC law 111 has been a subject of public and legal debate not the least because of the need for the law to evolve and be responsive to present circumstances.
Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe took a social perspective to assess the Intestate Succession Act, 1985 (PNDC 111) and its effects on traditional inheritance systems in Ghana. Her Ladyship commended the Intestate Succession Act, 1985 (PNDC 111) for introducing a uniform succession system in Ghana’s multi-cultural society. Before the law was passed in 1985, the nuclear family of a deceased spouse could be seriously disadvantaged depending on the deceased’s lineage (patrilineal/matrilineal) and the kind of marriage they contracted.
Her Ladyship was quick to add that “the implementation of this law (PNDC 111) for the benefit of married women upon the death of the husband intestate has not been a smooth ride at all”. Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe described PNDC 111 as most suited for ‘normative functional families’ (husband and wife, and all the children being issues of their marriage). However, even when problems arise due to a deviation from this “norm”, the situation is better than if PNDC 111 had not been in existence.
These notwithstanding, the Intestate Succession Act, of 1985 (PNDC 111) has dislocated and jeopardised the traditional inheritance system in Ghana. “The traditional inheritance system has been diluted, especially for matrilineal societies”, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe pointed out. Her Ladyship used the occasion to advise young people to work hard to acquire assets and take their eyes off someone else’s.
The seminar was held in the auditorium of the University’s south Legon campus. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, chaired the event which was heavily attended by students as well as teaching and non-teaching staff of the University. Among the dignitaries were the Dean of the Faculty of Integrated Communication Studies (FICS), Professor Modestus Fosu, the Dean of the School of Research and Graduate Studies (SoRGS), Dr Collins Adu-Bempah Brobbey, and the Head of the Department of Integrated Social Studies, Dr. Kodwo Jonas Anson Boateng.