Sherma Charles v Aul Charles
|26 September 2023
|Judgment citation (vLex)
| ECSC J0817-1
|CLAIM NO. GDAHCV2019/0026
|High Court (Grenada)
The Hon. Mde. Justice Agnes Actie High Court Judge
CLAIM NO. GDAHCV2019/0026
CLAIM NO. GDAHCV2020/0323
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF GRENADA
AND THE WEST INDIES ASSOCIATED STATES
HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
Mr. Derick Sylvester for Sherma Charles
Mr. Ruggles Ferguson for Yoland Thomas, Elroy Thomas, Shanna Charles and Aul Charles
These consolidated claims concern a familial dispute in the ownership of a parcel of land situate at Pearls in the parish of St. Andrew, Grenada, measuring three Thousand Five Hundred and Fourteen Square Feet (3, 514 sq. ft.) (hereafter called “the Pearls property”).
The parties, Sherma Charles, Aul Charles, Elroy Charles and Shanna Charles are siblings and children of Linda Charles, deceased. Yoland Thomas is the sister of the deceased and aunt of the siblings.
In fixed date claim GDAHCV2019/0026 filed on 15 th May 2019, Sherma Charles avers that she is the fee simple owner of the Pearls property, through a Deed of Conveyance dated 2 nd February 2017 from its previous owner, the estate of her grandfather, Maurice Thomas. She avers that in or around 2002, she orally gave her brother Aul Charles permission to enter the dwelling while she resided in the USA. She alleges that Aul Charles as a bare licensee has refused to deliver possession even after having been served with a notice to quit. Sherma avers that Aul Charles through his negligence and wanton actions has cause damage to the said dwelling house in the sum of $12, 034.32. She claims the following reliefs against her brother, Aul Charles:
(1) An order that Aul Charles, forthwith deliver vacant possession of the Pearls property with dwelling house thereon.
(2) A declaration that the claimant is the lawful owner of the Pearls property.
(3) A declaration that the Aul Charles is not entitled to enter or trespass on the Pearls property.
(4) An injunction restraining Aul Charles whether by himself, his servants or agents or otherwise howsoever from entering or crossing the property.
(5) Cost for damage to property in the sum of $12,034.32 and continuing.
(6) Damages for trespass and mesne profit; aggravated damages, costs and further reliefs as this Honourable Court deems just.
In fixed date claim GDAHCV2020/0323 filed on 20 th August 2020, Yoland Thomas, Elroy Charles, Shanna Charles and Aul Charles claim against Sherma Charles for the following:
(1) A declaration that the Pearls property forms part of a larger undivided parcel of land which was owned by Maurice Thomas, deceased, at the time of his death.
(2) A declaration that Maurice Thomas disposed of the Maurice Thomas land by way of his will to his reputed wife for the duration of her life and thereafter to his children in undivided shares.
(3) A declaration that Elroy Charles, Shanna Charles, Aul Charles and Sherma Charles and other descendants of Maurice Thomas are beneficial owners of undivided shares and interests in the Maurice Thomas land.
(4) A declaration that the purported transfer of ownership of the Pearls property by the Executor without the written consent of Yoland Thomas is contrary to the provisions of Real Property Devolution Act and is void.
(5) A declaration that the purported transfer of ownership of the Pearls property by the Executor of the Will of Maurice Thomas, Claudius Charles, to Sherma Charles in the absence of a partition deed signed by all the parties with interests in Maurice Thomas' land or a partition order from the court is contrary to the provisions of the Partition Act and is void.
(6) A declaration that the alleged contract between Maurice Thomas and Sherma Charles for the sale of the Pearls property is void because Sherma Charles in 1983 lacked capacity to enter such a contract.
Further or Alternatively
(7) A declaration that the alleged contract between Maurice Thomas and Sherma Charles for the sale of the Pearls property is void for non-compliance with the formalities required for a contract for the sale of real property.
(8) An order directed to the Registrar of the Supreme Court to strikeout from the records of the Deeds and Land Registry the deed made between Claudius Charles and Sherma Charles.
(9) An order restraining Sherma Charles, her servants or agents or whosoever from preventing or impeding Yoland Thomas, Elroy Charles, Shanna Charles and Aul Charles' enjoyment of possession of the Pearls property and building thereon; Further or other relief; and Costs.
The Deed of Conveyance in dispute is dated 2 nd February 2017 and was made between Claudius Charles aka Thomas as executor of the late Maurice Charles, as vendor and Sherma Charles as purchaser. The executor, in the recitals of the deed, states (i) that the late Maurice Charles, in 1983 contracted and agreed for the sale of the disputed property to the purchaser for the sum of $1000.00 EC (ii) by virtue of the said agreement the purchaser paid the deceased and took possession of the said property with the permission of the deceased, but no conveyance had been made (iii) the executor at the request of the purchaser agreed to complete the sale on behalf of the deceased by virtue of the said agreement and consideration which had been paid to the deceased. and acknowledged by the executor.
The claimants, Yoland Thomas, Elroy Charles, Shanna Charles and Aul Charles challenge the deed of conveyance mostly on two grounds namely, capacity to contract and failure of compliance with the requirements of the Real Estate Devolution Act 1.
Mr. Ruggles Fergusson, counsel for Yoland Thomas, Elroy Charles, Shanna Charles and Aul Charles, contends that Sherma Charles who was a minor at the time of the purported agreement for the purchase of the Pearls property lacked capacity to contract and accordingly the agreement was void and unenforceable.
Mr Derrick Syvester, counsel for Sherma Charles, in response states that it is settled law that an agreement entered by a minor is voidable at the instance of the minor 2. Counsel relies on the authority in 3 where it is stated that a minor could validly enter into certain contracts, and that contracts with a minor are not void ab initio, but voidable at the instance of the minor.
The court agrees with Mr Sylvester as it is trite law that a contract entered by a minor for the purchase of land, like any other contract, is valid and is only voidable by the minor during his/her minority or within a reasonable time of attaining full age. The contract is binding unless and until expressly repudiated by the minor. It is the evidence that Sherma Charles was indeed a minor at the time of the purported agreement with her grandfather. Sherma Charles states that the contract with her grandfather was made through her mother and agent, Linda Charles. It is Sherma's evidence that the money for the purchase of the disputed lot was provided by her father who resided and worked in the USA. Joseph Thomas, father of Sherma Charles and Aul Charles, both in his witness statement and at trial, confirmed that he provided the money for the purchase of the Pearls property at the request of Linda Charles.
There is no evidence before the court to challenge the evidence that the Pearls property was purchased by Sherma. The agreement having been ratified by Sherma Charles and the executor of the deceased cannot fail for lack of capacity. Accordingly, the Deed of Conveyance to Sherma Charles is a valid legal document.
Whether the Deed of conveyance is void for lack of compliance with the requirements of the Real Estate Devolution Act
Counsel, Mr Fergusson, argues that the Deed of Sale by the executor to the Sherma Charles is void as the executor failed to obtain the written consent of the other parties beneficially entitled to the disputed land which is in breach of Section 6 of the Real Estate Devolution Act. Counsel further posits that the conveyance is also in breach of Section 19 of the Partition Act.
Mr. Sylvester in filed submissions argues that the personal representative was duty bound to continue the obligations of the testator to give effect to any binding contract as the testator's contract does not die with him but becomes the responsibility of the personal representative.
Section 6 of Real Estate Devolution Act 4 stipulates certain restrictions on the power of personal representatives' dealings with real estate forming part of a deceased's estate. The Section reads:
6. “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, real estate devolving to and becoming vested in the personal...
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