Ramlagan v Singh

CourtCaribbean Court of Justice
Docket NumberCCJ AL No. 3 of 2010; GY Civ. App. No. 115 of 2004
JudgeDe La Bastide, P.
Judgment Date04 Oct 2010
JurisdictionCaribbean States

Caribbean Court of Justice

de la Bastide, P.; Sauders, J.A.; Wit, J.A.; Hayton, J.A.; Anderson, J.A.

CCJ AL No. 3 of 2010; GY Civ. App. No. 115 of 2004


Mr. Roopnarine Satram for the applicant

Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan and Mr. Neil Persram for the respondent

Civil practice and procedure - Appeal — Special leave to appeal — Application for leave to appeal as a poor person.

De La Bastide, P.

On 4th October, 2010 we heard and determined by audio conference applications in this matter for special leave to appeal and for leave to appeal as a poor person. So as to save costs, we had previously indicated to the parties that they should deploy both their oral and written submissions in a way that would permit us, without more, to render a decision on the appeal itself if indeed we were persuaded that special leave to appeal should be granted.


We decided then that special leave to appeal should be granted but that leave to appeal as a poor person should be denied. Because of our reluctance to dispose of an appeal without giving the parties the opportunity of having their respective cases presented by attorneys physically present in court, we fixed the 14th October, 2010 for determination of the substantive appeal at the Seat of the Court. We made it clear to the parties that while they were entitled to avail themselves of the opportunity to be present we neither required nor expected their presence when we sat to determine the substantive appeal and in fact neither side made any further submissions at that sitting. Having considered all the submissions made earlier on 4th October, 2010, and those given in writing this is our judgment.


The parties to this action were originally Mr. Narine Singh, as plaintiff and Mr. Daniel Ramlagan, as defendant. Their dispute was as to the ownership of two acres of land. The case was heard at first instance by Madame Justice Cummings. In a written judgment delivered on 6th December, 2004 the judge found for Mr. Singh and awarded him all the relief claimed in his Statement of Claim. A Notice of Appeal was filed on 22nd December, 2004. Mr. Ramlagan died almost a year later. For the purpose of prosecuting the appeal Mr. Ramlagan was succeeded by his widow as administratrix ad litem.


The appeal was heard in December, 2009, almost five years after it was filed. During the course of the hearing the Court of Appeal, of its own motion, drew attention to the Notice of Appeal that had given rise to the appeal. The Notice had properly been signed by Mr. Clifton Llewellyn John, who had acted as Attorney for Mr. Ramlagan in the High Court. Below and to the left of Mr. John's signature was a dotted line above the printed word “APPELLANT”. On this dotted line someone (possibly Mr. John himself) had written in pen in block letters the name “RAMLAGAN”.


During the course of the appeal the Court of Appeal noticed this handwritten name and became suspicious. The presiding judge asked that Mrs Ramlagan who was in the court room be shown the name “RAMLAGAN” handwritten on the Notice of Appeal. She was then asked if that was her late husband's signature. She said that it was not and on her own initiative she produced his identification card to show what his signature looked like. The Court of Appeal then concluded that the handwritten “RAMLAGAN” was a forgery, a “fraud in the face of the court” which it could not ignore.


Accounts differ as to what course of action was adopted by Mr. Mohanlall, representing Mrs. Ramlagan at the time, in response to this surprising turn of events. Mr. Singh's attorneys allege that Mr. Mohanlall “conceded” the “forgery” and invited the court to dismiss the appeal. Mrs. Ramlagan's version of events does not support this. She states in one affidavit that after the Court of Appeal came to its conclusion as to forgery Mr. Mohanlall remarked “that the Honourable Court is free to make any finding and rule as it sees fit”. In another affidavit she states in relation to...

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