The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from a pair of elderly sisters, who unsuccessfully attempted to evict a man from land owned by a distant relative after they inherited the property.
Delivering a 17-page judgment electronically on Tuesday, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judges Charmaine Pemberton and Andre Des Vignes dismissed the appeal, in which Constance Webb and Rufina Watson were attempting to overturn the decision of a High Court Judge, who similarly rejected their case in 2015.
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 raise 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.
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.
She also dismissed the sisters’ claim that they maintained the property and upheld Henry’s contention that it was in fact him.
While the appeal panel noted that although Dean-Armorer made two minor errors in misapplying the law in the case, 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 judgment, stated.
The sisters were represented by Stanley Marcus, SC, while Farai Hove Masaisai and Jennifer Farah-Tully represented Henry.