William Blackstone, the 18th century English Jurist, is credited with the following statement, which has had profound application in common law jurisdictions including Ghana. He stated and I quote:
“Better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”
The story is also told of a Chinese law Professor who, when he was advised on the American and common law belief that it was better that a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent man be executed, retorted “Better for whom?” The Chinese law Professor was answered thus:
“Better for all, because as history has proven, if anyone can be unlawfully jailed, everyone can be unlawfully jailed”.
These are the principles that have underpinned the criteria for establishing the ingredients for offences such as contempt. This is because contempt is quasi-criminal and has to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt against whoever is accused of having flouted or disobeyed the court’s orders.
In Re: Effiduase Stool Affairs …