Dr Ramraj Deonarine and 4 others (Respondents) v Lauralee Ramcharan (Appellant) (Trinidad and Tobago)
Case ID: JCPC 2021/0047
Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Can the appellant enforce the terms of a compromise agreement which purports to vary the terms of a will? Is the appellant entitled to any other relief?
This appeal concerns the estate of Seeram Seejattan, also known as Peter Seejattan. Mr Seejattan died on 21 March 2008 leaving property in Trinidad and Tobago and in the United States of America. By his will dated, Mr Seejattan appointed the first respondent, Dr Deonarine, as sole executor and directed him to sell Mr Seejattan’s property, to pay all funeral and testamentary expenses and then to distribute the remainder to Mr Seejattan’s four children, the second, third, fourth and fifth respondents (“the children”) in specified shares. On 15 May 2009, Dr Deonarine applied for probate of Mr Seejattan’s estate.
The appellant, Lauralee Ramcharan, claimed that Mr Seejattan failed to make adequate provision for her as his common law wife. The appellant and the children entered into discussions which the appellant alleged resulted in a series of documents amounting to a compromise agreement (the “compromise documents”) with respect to the division, distribution and allocation of Mr Seejattan’s estate. The appellant asked the court to order that Mr Seejattan’s will should not be admitted to probate and that his estate should instead be divided in accordance with the compromise documents. The appellant further alleged that she was entitled to one of Mr Seejattan’s properties, known as “Laura Valley”. The children deny signing the versions of the compromise documents filed by the appellant.
At first instance, the judge held that the appellant, as Mr Seejattan’s common law wife, was beneficially entitled to a 50% interest in the Laura Valley property. The judge refused to grant the other relief sought by the appellant. She declined to express a view on the validity of the compromise documents and held that the appellant should seek to enforce the alleged agreement after the grant of probate. The Court of Appeal, in part, allowed the respondents’ appeal and dismissed the appellant’s cross appeal. The Court of Appeal, amongst other matters, held that the judge was not entitled to rule on relief other than the appellant’s claim to enforce the compromise documents, but upheld the judge’s decision to otherwise dismiss the claim and other relief sought by the appellant. The appellant now appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Dr Ramraj Deonarine and others
Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens
Hearing start date
31 October 2022
Hearing finish date
31 October 2022
|31 Oct 2022||Morning session||Afternoon session|
29 December 2022
 UKPC 57