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Privy Council decision for 2008

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Out of the sixty-four judgments listed on the Privy Council website, only one matter originated from SVG. Some twelve judgments were given for Trinidad and Tobago, four for Jamaica, and two each for St. Lucia and the Virgin Islands. {{more}}

The matter from St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a civil matter consisting of two cases, No 21 and 68 of 2006, Treldon Connell v Claribelle Connell (by her duly constituted attorney on record) and Treldon Connell v Marcelle Alexander Findley. These were adjudicated jointly. According to Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, who delivered the judgment, “this is an unfortunate family dispute about property in St. Vincent.” He also claimed that it was the first time that an issue as to the intestacy law of St. Vincent had been raised before the Board.

Both matters before the Board were similar as they were brought by Treldon Connell who sought to recover two portions of land which were owned by his father, Selwyn Connell, and which he felt belonged to him. These matters were, however, started in the lower court as actions for trespass and for declaratory relief against the appellant, Treldon Connell, by the widow and her niece.

Background

During his lifetime Selwyn Connell possessed three parcels of land in Barrouallie but only two parcels were the subject of the contention. He lived with Imore Ceasar in a common law relation and produced three sons, including the appellant. Mr. Selwyn Connell married Claribelle Connell and there were no children to this union. Mr. Selwyn Connell died in 1976 and was survived by his widow Claribelle Connell.

In April 1985, Claribelle obtained a grant of letters of administration to Selwyn’s estate and in her application she deposed that Selwyn died intestate and that there were no other persons who were entitled to a share in the estate. These matters were dealt with in the lower court as No. 31 and 32 of 2003.The first was brought by the widow against Treldon Connell for trespass and the second was brought by Marcelle Finlay also for trespass. (Marcelle was given a gift of the property by Claribelle). In the first instance Court, the appellant was granted the property in No 31 of 2003, but this was overturned by the Court of Appeal. In the second case, Marcelle Findlay succeeded against Treldon in the first instance court and in the Court of Appeal.

In No. 31 of 2003, none of the parties presented any paper title and the Court of Appeal noted the departure of the Appellant from his pleaded case. He at one time claimed through his father and another through his mother Imore Ceasar whom he said had bought the land. Their Lordships thought that the Status of Children Act 1980 was simply “not properly pleaded or raised in the courts below”.

At the Court of Appeal level, the appellant applied to the Court for leave to introduce fresh evidence in the form of a document that his father had given him the disputed lands. This was rejected as it lacked the authority to transfer land in his father’s lifetime. Their Lordships thought that it could not serve as a testamentary document as it was not witnessed as required by law.

The Decision

Their Lordships advised Her Majesty that the appeals should be dismissed with costs.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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