Mauritzen v Gordon Grant Company Ltd

CourtFederal Supreme Court (West Indies)
Docket Number19 of 1959
JudgeRennie, P., Wylie, J., Archer, J.
Judgment Date18 Jan 1961
JurisdictionCaribbean States

Federal Supreme Court

Rennie, P.; Archer, J.; Wylie, J.

19 of 1959

Mauritzen
and
Gordon Grant Company Limited
Appearances:

Mr. Algernon Wharton, Q.C., and Mr. Raymond Hamel-Smith, for the plaintiff.

Mr. E. Hamel Wells for the defendant.

Practice and procedure - Application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council — Section 45(b) of the Federal Supreme Court Regulations — The questions of law that arise concerning the interpretation of the Rent Restriction Ordinance involve matters of great general and public importance — Leave to appeal granted.

Rennie, P.
1

This is an application by the plaintiff-applicant, Mauritzen, for leave to appeal to Her Majesty in Council from a decision of the Federal Supreme Court. The defendant-respondent opposes the application, which gives for its reasons because: (a) the learned trial judge and (save in respect of the claim for nuisance) the judges of the Federal Supreme Court gave judgment against the applicant, and such decisions are wrong in law on the grounds set out in paragraph 12 of his petition; (b) the decision directly involves a claim or question relating to property and the right of the applicant to possession thereof; and (c) the issues raised both under the Rent Restriction Ordinance and the Port-of-Spain Corporation Ordinance are matters of great general and public importance and fit to receive the consideration of Her Majesty's Privy Council. The rest of the application is grounded.

2

Appeals to Her Majesty in Council are regulated by section 45 of the Federal Supreme Court Regulations, 1958, which provides: –

“…an appeal shall lie –

  • (a) as of right, from any final judgment of the Federal Supreme court, where the amount in dispute on the appeal amounts to or is of the value of $1,440 (£300) or upwards, or where the appeal involves, directly or indirectly, some claim or question to or respecting property or some civil right amounting to or of the value of $1,440 (£300) or upwards; or

  • (b) at the discretion of the Federal Supreme Court, from any other judgment of the Federal Supreme Court, whether final or interlocutory, if, in the opinion of the Federal Supreme Court, the question involved in the appeal is one which by reason of its great general or public importance, or otherwise, ought to be submitted to Her Majesty in Council for decision.”

3

As the application contains no evidence of the value of the claim, the applicant contends that no monetary qualification attaches to a claim to property. I am unable to place such a construction on the regulation; its language and form leave no room for doubt that the correct view is that there is only an appeal as of right if the requirement as to value is satisfied. Support for the view I hold can be found in Mohideen Hadjiar v. Pitchery [1893] A.C. 193 and Vick Chemical Company v. De Cordova (1948) 5 J.L.R. 196.

4

As a second limb of his argument, the applicant submits that leave should be granted on the ground that the construction of the relevant portions of the Rent Restriction Ordinance and the Port-of-Spain Corporation Ordinance raise a matter of great general or public importance. It is of great general or public importance, he submits, because it touches on the rights of landlords and tenants, and on the powers of the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando Corporations. I regard such an argument as being equivalent to saying that a construction of a public enactment which is not in accordance with the wishes of a party is a matter of great general or public importance. The possibility that there may be a large number of persons who may wish to have a different construction placed on the enactment would not make what, in my view, is a purely personal matter into one of great general or public importance. It would be of great general or public importance to have the law settled if it is, in fact, unsettled, but one does not prove an unsettled state of law by putting forward his claim and by stating that he does not like the decision on his claim. If that were so, the law would always be unsettled.

5

From the provisions of the regulation it...

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