Clarke v Jackson

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeIbrahim, J.
Judgment Date30 December 1986
Neutral CitationTT 1986 HC 178
Docket NumberNo. 23 of 1986 (Tobago)
CourtHigh Court (Trinidad and Tobago)
Date30 December 1986

High Court

Ibrahim, J.

No. 23 of 1986 (Tobago)


Des Vignes for the plaintiff.

Miggins for the defendant.

Real property - Ownership — Land sold by deceased to plaintiff — Daughter of deceased (the defendant) served notice to quit on plaintiff and demanded possession on the grounds, inter alia, that there was no sufficient memorandum in writing to satisfy the terms of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Ordinance, Ch. 27, No. 12 — Plaintiff had paid full purchase price of land, built a house and cultivated the land for 30 years and had paid to have a Memorandum of Transfer effected in his favour — These were all acts of part performance sufficient to make the contract enforceable against the deceased and his successors — Plaintiff held both equitable interest in and possession of land but only lacked legal ownership — Judgment for plaintiff.

Ibrahim, J.

James Clarke (the plaintiff had been living at L' Anse Fourmi, on a parcel of land he had acquired from Mansfield Trotman. He had known Edward Morton (the deceased since 1956. The deceased had owned a large parcel of land in that area and had decided to dispose of it. In 1956 the plaintiff spoke to the deceased concerning the purchase from him of a parcel of land (the land). The deceased told him you could occupy that till further orders. The plaintiff went into possession of the land and on it he built a small shop. In 1958 he built a house on the land and he and his family went into occupation. He has lived there ever since. He cultivated the land in fruit trees, lived in the house and there carried on his shop business. He paid the deceased the full purchase price for the land in January, 1960. The deceased could neither read nor write so Dillon prepared the receipt. The plaintiff said that he and Dillon had a dispute and neither Dillon nor the deceased signed the receipt. The unsigned receipt was however given to the plaintiff which he kept. A photocopy of it was made by his solicitor. The original receipt was lost. The plaintiff produced the photocopy. The receipt showed that the parcel purchased was one rood and 19 perches.


Within a few days of the payment of the purchase price the plaintiff said that he and the deceased went to the offices of Mr. Maurice Fortier, a solicitor in Scarborough for the purpose of having a deed of conveyance prepared from the deceased to the plaintiff in respect of the land purchased. The plaintiff made two visits to the solicitor's offices. The first was on January 12, 1960. On that day, apparently an agreement for sale was drawn up. The deceased was unable to read or write. He was described by Mansfield Trotman, a person who knew him well and who lived not far from him as “he was not a man of letters.” The plaintiff appeared to me to be likewise. The plaintiff described what occurred in the solicitor's office thus “I took Morton with me at Mr. Fortier's office. I enter into written transaction there. I was given sheet of paper with writing on both sides. Miss Laurence type it up. I take that paper …..Morton had signed the agreement that Laurence had made.” At the same time when the agreement was prepared the plaintiff paid the solicitor the sum of $15.58 being the costs involved in the preparation of the Memorandum of Transfer. He received a receipt from the solicitor. It was prepared by the clerk, Miss Laurence. The plaintiff visited the offices of the solicitor on 2 August, 1960 and paid the further sum of $1.48 being the stamp duty and affidavit fees in respect of the transfer. The receipt was prepared by one Arnold, a clerk in the solicitor's office. Arnold is dead and Miss Laurence is residing in England. The solicitor is also dead. He died sometime ago. Morton also died in 1963. The Memorandum of Transfer was never registered. The plaintiff continued to live on the land up to this day.


Lucy Jackson (the defendant was the daughter of the deceased. Around 1977 she applied for Letters of Administration in respect of her father's estate. That was granted on February 29, 1980. Apparently, the real estate of the deceased of which the land formed a part was held by the deceased under a Royal Grant for Crown Lands No. 73 dated 3 December, 1918 registered in Volume 438 folio 289 (see exhibit LJ1). The plaintiff said that the land was surveyed by Mr. Fahey in 1959. That was apparently done for the purpose of excising the land from the larger parcel held by the deceased pursuant to the Grant to enable the Memorandum of Transfer to be prepared.


In November, 1983 the defendant regarded the plaintiff as a trespasser. She served on him a notice to quit and deliver up possession of the land he occupied comprising 2 lots. The notice was served personally and by it possession was demanded on or before December 31, 1983. The plaintiff did not comply. On April 7, 1983 the defendant executed a Memorandum of Assent No. 43 of 1983 by which she became legal and beneficial owner of the real estate left by the deceased. That comprised, inter alia, the land. The plaintiff filed his writ claiming — (a) specific performance of the agreement for sale of the land and (b) a declaration of the sale and an order that the defendant do execute a deed of conveyance of the land to the plaintiff and or declaration that the plaintiff had acquired a possessory title to the land.


The pleaded defences were:

  • (a) No sufficient memorandum in writing to satisfy the terms of the conveyancing and Law of Property Ordinance Ch. 27 No. 12.

  • (b) No sufficient possession by the plaintiff to constitute adverse possession to vest ownership in plaintiff by way of possessory title.

  • (c) Great delay in commencing proceedings and therefore great hardship will be caused to the defendant if specific performance is granted.

  • (d) The defendant relied in the provisions of sec. 5 of the Limitation of Personal Action Ordinance Property Limitation Ordinance Ch. 8 No. 7.

  • (e) The certificate of title vested in the defendant beneficial ownership of the land.


Included in the defence was a counter claim by which the defendant sought a declaration that she was sole owner of the land. Also there was a claim for injunctive relief and a request for an order in the alternative that the defendant be indemnified by the plaintiff for all expenses incurred in relation to the lands after 1952. It must be borne in mind that the plaintiff's claim is against the estate of a deceased person and the evidence in support thereof must be examined with a greater degree of scrutiny than would normally be applied when all the parties to a transaction are alive and able to testify. The law on this matter was fully reviewed in High Court Action 803 of 1976 between Harold Stauble and Dulcie Bholai (judgment delivered on 8 April, 1982 in which case at pages 4 to 6 I held –

“What emerges from these authorities is that where a claim is made against the estate of a deceased person the evidence must be examined with great cares it must be jealously scrutinized and looked at with suspicion, corroboration should be looked for but its...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT