The Barbados Court of Appeal yesterday threw out what it described as a mesmerizing appeal concerning a disputed plot of land at Briar Hall, Christ Church that was being fought over by two half-sisters – Marva Best of Briar Hall Road and Ercille Kinch of St Christopher, in the same parish.
The appeal was brought by Best against Kinch.
The case concerned land purchased with money earned by a Barbadian in the construction of the Panama Canal, a so-called Silver Man, for which no grant of representation had been obtained to the land for two generations.
The court noted that in those circumstances, the respondent, Kinch, a granddaughter of the Barbadian Silver Man, by a local foreclosure suit, which the court referred to as ‘a home-grown legal fiction’, obtained title to the land by a conveyance dated November 15, 1999 from the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
The appellant instituted an action in the High Court against the respondent, her half-sister, for a declaration that that conveyance was fraudulently obtained and therefore void. As a consequence, Best asked the High Court for an order cancelling the conveyance.
Madame Justice Jacqueline Cornellius, who heard that case on November 27, 2012, dismissed Best’s claim.
And in handing down their decision, the three appellate justices reaffirmed Judge Cornellius’ judgment.
They ruled that the appeal must fail on each of the grounds raised by the appellant Best.
“The appellant has failed to discharge the standard of proof required to show that the Registrar’s conveyance, vesting her half-sister, the respondent, with title in the land, was obtained by fraud. Additionally, the appellant’s contention that adverse possession was established in relation to either of her parents was unsubstantiated,” the Court of Appeal concluded.
The court also said there was no evidence that the appellant’s parents acquired a possessory title in the land, which was capable of descending to the children of the marriage, including the appellant.
“Finally, there was no evidence of a promise or representation made by the respondent, which created an expectation in the appellant to an interest in the land, on which the appellant relied to her detriment. For all of the foregoing reasons, we hold that the appeal is dismissed, with costs to the respondent, to be assessed, if not agreed,” the three judges ruled.
Edmund Hinkson represented the victorious respondent before becoming a Government minister, while Queen’s Counsel Norman Thomas appeared on behalf of the appellant.
In their introduction, the court said the appeal is a mesmerizing montage of ancestral Bajan socio economic, legal, historical and cultural mores.