First Place in Essay Writing Competition: The Law versus the Coronavirus ( COVID-19) by Jojo Bentsi-Enchill

The Law versus the Coronavirus ( COVID-19)

Atta-Adwoa v COVID-19

[2020] 1 ULR 123

Division:                                        HIGH COURT, SEKONDI

Date:                                              5th March 2020

Before:                                           AKOTEY J

                                                                                                                                                           

The plaintiff is a middle-aged woman working as an accountant in a reputable firm. The defendant, a frequent traveler, who is notoriously disliked, goes by the name Coronavirus or COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that she was of perfect health, up until 6 weeks ago, when she began to show flu-like symptoms of fever and a sore throat. Upon a visit to the Yakubu Medical Centre, she tested positive for the coronavirus disease. Consequently, she was quarantined, against her will, and kept in isolation for three weeks, until she made a full recovery. Her immediate friends and family were also “forcefully” quarantined so that they may be kept under observation. Despite her recovery, people refused to associate with her, claiming that she was a ticking time-bomb of disease. She was asked not to resume work ‘until further notice’ and her boyfriend of 2 months told her he could no longer continue with their relationship. The plaintiff brought an action seeking the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the defendant has infringed upon her fundamental human rights guaranteed under Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution.
  • Damages
  • Costs.

COUNSEL

Enchill Esq. for the plaintiff

We assert that the defendant has infringed upon our client’s fundamental rights. Since she fell prey to the virus, Atta-Adwoa had to be quarantined for three weeks, which is essentially a constraint on her right to freedom of movement under Article 21 of the Constitution. Flowing from this, she could no longer go to work or associate freely with others, and to this extent, we seek damages for her losses.

Amissah-Arthur Esq. for the defendant

My Lord, we raise the defense of contributory negligence relying on Section 1 of Act 176. It is our contention that some fault can be attributed to the plaintiff for her failure to take reasonable care for her own safety. Cross-examination revealed that the plaintiff rarely washed her hands regularly and was particularly fond of unnecessary contact. When questioned on her unhygienic lifestyle, he would simply reply “God dey so we dey”.

JUDGEMENT OF AKOTEY J

I find the arguments presented to me by both sides very interesting yet complex. In this regard, I would need to retire to my chambers and deliberate on a just outcome.

DECISION

Court adjourned.

By Jojo Konki Sapara Bentsi-Enchill

Word Count : 396