Case details

Ryan-Cox (on her own behalf and as representative of Theobalds Cox deceased) (Appellant) v Cox (as representative of Rhona aka Lorna Mary Cox) (Respondent) (St Lucia)

Case ID: JCPC 2018/0038

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of St Lucia

Case summary

Issue(s)

Whether the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal erred in holding that the deceased was entitled to dispose of his property to his wife and children by testamentary disposition, having stipulated in a marriage covenant that there shall be no dower.

Facts

This was a succession claim, in particular to the Champagne Estate in St Lucia bought by Richardson Cox, in his sole name, on 8 February 1954. His first marriage was to Flavienne Cox with whom he had ten children, including the Appellant, Cecile Beryl Ryan-Cox, and Theobalds Cox, before she died. On 13 November 1948, Richardson Cox entered into a marriage covenant with and then married Rohna aka Lorna Mary. The covenant was made pursuant to articles 1184-1186 of the Civil Code of St Lucia and contained a provision (clause 4) stating: "There shall be no dower whether customary or prefix and the said future wife hereby renounces for her children all or any dower." Richardson Cox then had nine children with Lorna Cox. Those children occupied the Champagne Estate. In 1957, a new Article 1183 of the Civil Code was introduced, making provision on dower. The effect of this is disputed.

Richardson Cox executed a will on 6 November 1959. Lorna Cox was appointed as his executrix. The will granted her a life interest and the children of their marriage a residuary interest in the Champagne Estate. He left his other properties to the children of his first marriage. Lorna Cox applied for probate of Richardson Cox’s will in 1968. In 2011, she vested the Champagne Estate in the name of her children.

In October 2010, the Appellant claimed that the disposition of the Champagne Estate to Lorna Cox and her children was in breach of the 1948 marriage covenant. At first instance, the Appellant succeeded, but the Court of Appeal reversed that decision.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Cecile Beryl Ryan-Cox

Respondent(s)

Christopher Cox as representative of Rhona aka Lorna Mary Cox

Appeal

Justices

Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin

Hearing start date

06 Jun 2019

Hearing finish date

06 Jun 2019

Judgment promulgation date

27 Jun 2019

Watch hearing
6 Jun 2019 Morning session