Saturday, March 5, 2016


By Ayah Paul Abine,Deputy Atorney general of the Supreme Count of Cameroon

It is notoriously repetitive, but we still wish, for emphasis, to begin by recurring to the conspicuous fact that there are two juxtaposed legal systems in Cameroun/Cameroon: the Common Law and the Civil Law. The third arm is the crude gloss over the two systems christened “national laws” by misnomer. “By misnomer” because, in reality, both the national substantive and adjective laws in the domain under consideration are but a nefarious pigmentation of the French Civil Law singular lotion…

The law on the structure and functioning of the Supreme Court is no exception to the general rule. It admits of no contention that it is “national” only insofar as it is relative to jurisdiction ratione loci. But it is beyond doubt that it is the ramification and by-product of the Civil Law system, fastidiously hostile to any influence from the Common Law system. It is no boldness to assert that the law in question is the regurgitation of undigested garbage from the French civil code and civil procedure code, inspired by alien culture not altogether not inimical to sane judgment, equity and good conscience. 

That global assertion is exemplified by the fact that the six top positions of that court from the President and the Attorney General through the heads of Divisions are all occupied by Camerounese to the total exclusion of Cameroonians. One may assert with little fear of error that, of the over fifty Camerounese judges, hardly 10% can honestly affirm that they have as much as heard about the rules of court which are like the Bible in adjective civil law in the Common Law system…

Clearly, a judgment written on the basis of those rules cannot ever be fairly determined on appeal on the foundation of a different set of rules; let alone where, in the one system, Equity has rendered the rules flexible; while elsewhere the technicalities are akin to “forms of actions” that occasioned untold hardships and injustices that were the hallmark of “forms of actions” centuries ago in Common Law.

Again would it be noted that the language of the court is essentially alien to the Cameroonian. Justice should not only be done. The litigant must be satisfied that there has been fairness in the process and in the proceeding. It is immaterial that the litigant is represented by counsel who understands what is going on. Ultimately, it is the litigant’s cause and not that of the counsel. And nature allows no-one to hear for the other. Indisputably, the core truth is ever watered down in reported speech!

It would be submitted, therefore, that, the Supreme Court having final jurisdiction, it would be salutary to create a Division of that court to do justice to Cameroonians. We see in my minds’ eyes someone arguing the case for harmonization. But it makes no difference when harmonization means simply borrowing from the French codes for complacent “enactment”, and domineering application in tantalizing French. 
Therefore do we persist in holding that the Supreme Court as it is now cannot do justice to Cameroonians in civil matters. We do challenge whosoever to prove the contrary to us.

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