Charles Edward Porter and another (Respondents) v Robert Stokes (Personal Representative of the Estate of Walter Edward Stokes, deceased) (Appellant) (Trinidad and Tobago)
Case ID: JCPC 2021/0032
Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Was the Court of Appeal wrong to overturn the High Court's decision to reject a claim for rectification of a deed on the ground of common mistake?
This appeal concerns a claim to rectify a deed of conveyance of land. In May 1982 Walter Stokes (now deceased) entered into an agreement for the sale of certain land to Mr and Mrs Porter. The agreement was for the sale of two parcels of land: a main parcel; and a second smaller strip of land between the main parcel and the road described as a "right of way." They subsequently executed a deed of conveyance on 18 August 1982. However, the deed only conveyed the main parcel to the Porters. The smaller strip was not conveyed to the Porters, but the deed purported to reserve a right of way across it in favour of Walter Stokes.
In 2006 the Porters claimed that the deed contained a mistake and that the true intentions of the parties to the deed had been to convey both parcels of land, in accordance with the May 1982 agreement. They therefore sought rectification of the deed on the grounds of common mistake. Walter Stokes' son Robert Stokes (as personal representative of his late father's estate) denied that there had been a mistake in the deed, he said that Walter Stokes had never intended to sell the smaller strip. He said that it was the May 1982 agreement that contained a mistake, which had been corrected when the deed was made. The High Court dismissed the Porters' claim. The judge found that Walter Stokes had only intended to convey the main parcel and rejected the Porters' evidence as to the parties' intentions. The Porters appealed.
The Court of Appeal found that the judge had made several errors when considering the evidence. It considered that the judge focussed too much on the oral evidence, given after a substantial passage of time, and paid insufficient heed to the documentary evidence, in particular the deed itself. It therefore considered it was entitled to look at the matter afresh. The Court of Appeal found that the agreement for sale and the deed taken as a whole, including in particular the reservation of the right of way to Walter Stokes over the strip, led to the conclusion that the parties' common intention was to convey both parcels of land. It therefore allowed the Porters' appeal.
Robert Stokes was granted final leave to appeal to the Privy Council on 21 February 2021.
Charles Edward Porter, Mary Bernadette Porter
Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin, Lord Sales, Lord Burrows, Lady Rose
Hearing start date
1 March 2023
Hearing finish date
1 March 2023
|1 March 2023||Morning session||Afternoon session|
30 March 2023
 UKPC 11