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Case details

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

Case summary

Issue

(1) Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law in setting aside the first instance judge’s findings of fact?
(2) Whether the Court of Appeal erred in making the factual findings it did.

Facts

This appeal concerns a claim to rectify a deed of conveyance of land. The late Walter Edward Stokes and the Respondents entered into an agreement for the sale of land dated 15 May 1982. They executed the deed of conveyance on 18 August 1982. The deed described two parcels of land: the main parcel conveyed to the Respondents; and a second smaller strip of land, said to be subject to a right of way.

The Respondents claimed that the true intentions of the parties to the deed had been to convey both parcels of land and sought rectification of the deed. The Appellant denied the Respondents’ claim and counterclaimed for trespass and private nuisance. The High Court dismissed the Respondents’ claim and gave judgment for Appellant’s counterclaim. The judge found that Walter Stokes had only intended to convey the main parcel and rejected the Respondents’ evidence as to the parties’ intentions. The Respondents appealed. The Appellant cross appealed seeking orders for injunctive relief and mesne profits.

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 and paid insufficient heed to the terms of the deed. It therefore considered it was entitled to look at the matter afresh. The Court of Appeal found, amongst other things, that: (i) the deed taken as a whole, and a reservation of the right of way within the deed, led to the conclusion that the parties’ common intention was that the deed conveyed both parcels of land and (ii) the parties’ common intention was always to convey both parcels. It therefore allowed the Respondents’ appeal on rectification and dismissed the Appellant’s cross appeal.

The Appellant was granted final leave to appeal to the Privy Council on 21 February 2021.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Robert Stokes

Respondent(s)

Charles Edward Porter, Mary Bernadette Porter

Appeal

Justices

Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin, Lord Sales, Lord Burrows, Lady Rose

Hearing start date

1 March 2023

Hearing finish date

1 March 2023