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Case details

Charles B Lawrence & Associates (Appellant) v Intercommercial Bank Ltd (Respondent) (Trinidad & Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2019/0127

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Case summary

Issue

In the context of a negligent valuation of land by the Appellant on which the Respondent bank relied to advance a loan to a third party: did the Court of Appeal err in its calculation of the loss caused to the Respondent and in its conclusion that the true valuation of the land in question should be assessed on a residential basis rather than on a commercial basis?

Facts

The Appellant is a professional valuer of land. The Respondent is a commercial bank which was approached by Singapore Automotive Trading Limited ("Singapore") to advance a loan to Singapore. Rafferty Development Limited ("Rafferty") was to be the guarantor of that loan. Rafferty instructed the Appellant to provide a valuation of certain land in San Fernando in Trinidad and Tobago, which Rafferty was going to use as security for the loan. Although the Appellant was instructed by Rafferty, it is accepted by the parties that the purpose of the Appellant’s valuation report was to ascertain the current open market value of the land in question for the purposes of a mortgage.

In due course the Appellant prepared the valuation report on the relevant land. He said that the then current open market value of the land was $15,000,000. The Appellant also indicated in his report that: vacant possession of the land was possible; the land was free from all encumbrances; all necessary statutory planning approvals would be granted for construction of a commercial development on the land. Based on the valuation report, the Respondent advanced the loan moneys to Singapore (of $3,000,000.00). It transpired that there were occupiers on the land and that the land did not have planning approval for the construction of a commercial development.

On 23 March 2012 the Respondent issued a claim against the Appellant in negligence, seeking to recover the sum of "at least $2,078,198.99" which was the difference between the sum owing under the mortgage inclusive of interest and the true open market value of the property (which was at best $2 million). At trial in the High Court, Jones J found that the Appellant had been negligent by failing to identify the presence of occupiers on the land and in wrongly valuing the land on a commercial basis. The Court of Appeal dismissed the Appellant’s appeal, holding that there was no basis on which the trial judge’s findings as to negligence should be reversed. The Appellant now appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Charles B Lawrence & Associates

Respondent(s)

Intercommercial Bank Ltd

Appeal

Justices

Lord Briggs, Lady Arden, Lord Kitchin, Lord Burrows, Lady Rose

Hearing start date

5 October 2021

Hearing finish date

5 October 2021

 
Watch hearing
5 Oct 2021 Afternoon session