Case details

Suppo (Appellant) v Jhundoo (Respondent) (Mauritius)

Case ID: JCPC 2017/0047

Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court of Mauritius

Case summary

Issue(s)
  1. What was the proper interpretation and effect of a deed signed in 2001 which declared that the Appellant was the true owner of a plot of land registered in the name of the Respondent; and
  2. Whether, in any event, the original transfer of the plot of land to the Respondent was void because its purpose was to enable a non-citizen to acquire and hold property in Mauritius contrary to the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction Act.
Facts

The Appellant and Respondent are former husband and wife, having been married between January 1992 and 30 June 2006, and in a relationship since 1985. The Appellant is a French national, who acquired Mauritian citizenship in April 2004. The dispute relates to a plot of land which the Respondent purchased (and registered in his name) in 1987. The Respondent subsequently entered into a deed (entitled a "contre lettre") in relation to this land in 2001, which he signed before the Notary Public. This deed declared that the Appellant was the true owner of the plot, having paid for the land from her own funds, and having funded the construction of two bungalows on the site. Moreover, the Respondent undertook to transfer the property to such a person as the Appellant might direct, and remit the sale price to her.

Following the parties’ divorce, the Appellant asked the Respondent to transfer the land to her, but the Respondent refused. The Appellant therefore brought proceedings arguing that the plot of land had been purchased primarily with monies she supplied, and that she had also financed the majority of the building work. The only reason why the plot was registered in the Respondent’s name was because she was not, at that time, a Mauritian citizen or married to the Respondent. It would therefore have been a violation of the Non-citizens (Property Restriction) Act were she to be the registered owner. This was disputed by the Respondent who claimed that the land was purchased primarily through money he or his family contributed, and that he had been tricked into signing the 2001 deed. At trial, the judge found that the Appellant had financed the purchase of the land, but that any purchase was void because non-citizens were not allowed to acquire property. The Respondent successfully appealed this decision, arguing that the 2001 deed was unlawful but the original purchase valid. Consequently, the Appellant now appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Emma Aurore Suppo

Respondent(s)

Suresh Kumar Jhundoo

Appeal

Justices

Lord Wilson, Lord Hughes, Lady Black, Lord Briggs, Sir Andrew McFarlane

Hearing start date

25 Jul 2018

Hearing finish date

25 Jul 2018

Watch hearing
25 Jul 2018 Morning session