Ignorantia Legis and Facti: Untamable Defences in Law and Fact within the Spirit of the Ghanaian Constitutional and Criminal Laws

  • George Benneh Mensah
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  • George Benneh Mensah

    Lead Consultant at E-Group Research Consulting Ghana Ltd. Co., Greater Accra, Accra, Ghana

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This paper aimed to shed light on ignorantia legis and facti, by examining the historical context of these defences, highlighting their importance in ensuring justice, and advocating for their recognition in the Ghanaian legal system. Ignorantia legis and facti are considered full defences within Ghanaian Criminal Jurisprudence but for the technical wordings of the codes in the jurisdiction. Historical case laws provided ample evidence of their successful application. These doctrines acknowledged that individuals cannot be held accountable for actions they were unaware were illegal or factual mistakes they genuinely believed to be true. The Ghanaian Criminal and Other Offences Act, further solidified this notion by allowing both mistake of fact and law as valid defences. However, there have been cases where the courts have misruled and wrongly assumed that ignorantia legis and facti was not a defence under the Ghanaian Criminal and Other Offences Act. Notwithstanding, the paper established that these doctrines, when interpreted and construed properly within the spirit of the Ghanaian Constitution and the Ghanaian Criminal and Other Offences Act, can ensure that justice in accordance with the tenets of the Ghanaian Constitution is delivered.




International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 5, Page 951 - 966

DOI: https://doij.org/10.10000/IJLMH.115863

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