A pair of elderly sisters have failed in their final attempt to evict a man from a parcel of land in Diego Martin, which they inherited from a distant relative.
Delivering a decision, late last week, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council refused Constance and Rufina Webb permission to appeal two consistent decisions by the local High Court judge and the Court of Appeal, who both rejected their case against Kevin Henry.
In challenging the appeal to this country’s highest appellate court, Henry’s lawyer Farai Hove Masaisai stated that it should not be entertained as it did not raise a legal issue of general public importance.
“This is a private dispute between the applicants and the respondent on the issue of possession of land and adverse possession of land is a well developed and clearly understood area of law in the Republic of T&T,” Masaisai said.
The Privy Council agreed and ordered the siblings to pay Henry’s legal costs for defending the appeal.
The legal dispute centred around a parcel of land at Vanderpool Lane, Diego Martin, which was owned by the sisters’ distant relative Annisette Mitchell.
According to the evidence presented in the case, in 1954, Mitchell began renting the land to Mabel Honore and her husband, who built a small home on the property.
Mitchell passed away in 1964 and was followed by her daughter and sole heir Julia, who died in 1967.
Honore, her husband and their adopted son Kevin Henry continued to live on the property after the Mitchells’ deaths.
After Honore passed away in 1981, Henry moved in with a neighbour. He claimed he returned to the property in 1985 and has lived there unimpeded until the sisters attempted to raised their title to the property in 2009.
The sisters obtained title to the land, which was being held by the Office of the Attorney General in trust, after seeking to administer Mitchell’s estate, of which they were the main beneficiaries.
Former High Court judge Mira Dean-Armorer eventually dismissed their claim as she ruled that Henry’s contentious and undisturbed exclusive possession extinguished the right previously held by Annisette and that he was entitled to the land by adverse possession under the Real Property Limitation Act.
Last April, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judges Charmaine Pemberton and Andre Des Vignes upheld the judgment delivered by Dean-Armorer, who has since been elevated to the Appeal Court.
While the appeal panel noted that Dean-Armorer made two minor errors in misapplying the law in the case, they said it did not affect the quality of her final decision.
“A close look at the evidence reveals that the findings of fact and application of the relevant law made by the trial judge, save for those referred to above, were consistent with the facts pleaded and evidence led and tested, namely that, by the time the title passed to Constance and Rufina, and indeed by the time this action was filed, any interest or title held by Annisette’s Estate was extinguished,” Pemberton, who wrote the judgement, stated.
The sisters were represented by Stanley Marcus, SC while Jennifer Farah-Tully appeared alongside Masaisai for Henry.