Mrs. Daniel Dupuis Defendant/Appellant v Nicholas Joseph Labadie Plaintiff/Respondent [ECSC]

JurisdictionCaribbean States
CourtEastern Caribbean Supreme Court
JudgeST. BERNARD, J.A. (Ag.), (E. L. St. Bernard), LEWIS, C.J., GORDON, J.A., (K. L. Gordon), Chief Justice
Judgment Date07 Jul 1970
Neutral Citation[1970] ECSC J0707-1
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No. 2 of 1969
[1970] ECSC J0707-1

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Before:

The Honourable the Chief Justice

The Honourable Mr. Justice Gordon

The Honourable Mr. Justice St. Bernard (Ag.)

Civil Appeal No. 2 of 1969

Between:
Mrs. Daniel Dupuis
Defendant/Appellant
and
Nicholas Joseph Labadie
Plaintiff/Respondent

J. Armour for the Appellant

R. Lockhart for the Respondent

ST. BERNARD, J.A. (Ag.)
1

The respondent holds a registered certificate of title issued under the provisions of the Title by Registration Ordinance, Cap. 222, of the Laws of Dominica of a parcel of land containing 3 roods 10 poles situate at Portsmouth, Dominica. He was absent from the State for a period of approximately 10 years and on his return found the appellant in possession of part of this land. By a letter dated the 18th April, 1967, written on his behalf by his solicitor he requested delivery of possession to him of the portion of land occupied by the appellant. The appellant refused to deliver up possession and a writ was issued in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction praying the following relief —

  • (a) a declaration that he is the registered proprietor of the said land in virtue of an indefeasible certificate of title and that the defendant has no right or claim thereto;

  • (b) an order that the defendant do forthwith or at such time as to the Court shall seem just quit and deliver up peaceable possession of the said land;

  • (c) mesne profits to such an amount not exceeding $1,000 as to the Court shall seem just.

2

At the trial the respondent stated that the appellant occupied a portion of the land comprised in his certificate of title and put the said certificate in evidence. In cross-examination he said that he once sold a portion of land which the defendant occupies to her husband and gave him the boundaries before he left in May, 1956. The defendant gave no evidence but submitted there was no case to answer. The Court overruled this submission and made orders in terms of the relief sought.

3

The appellant has appealed from these orders. Counsel for the appellant raised before this Court for the first time the question of the jurisdiction of the Court of Summary Jurisdiction to make an order for the recovery of land. The Court gave leave to argue this ground of appeal inasmuch as if there was no jurisdiction in the Court the trial was a nullity. Counsel submitted that sections 8 and 9 respectively of the Summary Jurisdiction Ordinance, Cap. 27 of the Laws of Dominica (hereinafter called 'the Ordinance') are the sections which confer jurisdiction on the Summary Court. In this case the relevant section is, in my view, section 9 of the Ordinance. That section, as amended, reads as follows:

"9. The Court shall have full power and jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate, without a jury, actions of trespass and title to land, wherein the damages or property claimed shall not exceed one thousand dollars: Provided that, in case the defendant disputes the value of the property in question, the judge may, before entering into the case, inquire into and fix the value thereof, and such valuation shall be conclusive for the purpose of deciding whether the judge has jurisdiction."

4

Counsel urged that this section did not clothe the Court with the necessary power to make orders for the recovery of possession of land but simply gave the Court power to adjudicate on matters of trespass where the question of title was involved. He argued that under the Small Tenements Ordinance, Cap. 20, the Magistrate's Court had jurisdiction to make orders for the recovery of land but in cases of trespass where title was involved there was no jurisdiction. Section 9 of the Ordinance was simply an extension of the jurisdiction given to magistrates in cases of trespass involving title to land.

5

Counsel...

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