THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
COLONY OF ANGUILLA
CLAIM NO: AXA HMT 2007/0022
ALICE FRANCISCA GUMBS
LAWRENCE OTHNEL GUMBS
Ms. Paulette Harrigan for the Applicant
Ms. Charlie-Ann Albert for the Respondent
2008: September 26;
2009: November 23.
 GEORGE-CREQUE, J.: The parties, who had been married for some 15 years, were
granted a decree nisi on 4
January 2008. It was agreed, by consent, that the respondent
would pay maintenance for the child of the marriage in the sum of $1300 per month until
determination of the suit.
By application for ancillary relief made on 28
(i) custody and maintenance of the child of the marriage (then below the age of
July 2008, the
(ii) determination of the applicant’s beneficial interest in the matrimonial home;
(iii) a sum of money equivalent to the applicant’s beneficial interest in the
matrimonial home or alternatively such lump sum as the court deems just;
The payments were made retrospectively from the 14
(iv) liberty to remain in the matrimonial home pending the payment of any such
(v) determination of the ownership of the chattels contained in the matrimonial
 The child of the marriage having reached the age of majority on 27
February 2009 and
being gainfully employed, it is not proposed to make any further order for maintenance.
The respondent has not disputed the applicant’s entitlement to certain chattels as
requested at paragraph 38 of the applicant’s affidavit dated 28
July 2008 so that this
issue need not occupy me further. The primary issue for determination therefore is the
disposition of the matrimonial home.
 The applicant is a domestic cleaner who earns approximately US$400 – $600 per month.
She has one child (a son) with the respondent and six children from a previous
relationship, one of whom lived with the parties for a period of time. The applicant
inherited a 100ft x 100ft lot in Dominica and has approximately US$500 in savings.
 The respondent is a mason and is employed with Gumbs Construction Company Ltd. and
undertakes part time gardening and general maintenance for Palm Shore Villas and The
Boat House. The respondent earns approximately US$1855 per month and engages in
recreational or subsistence fishing. Some US$40 is made through the sale of produce.
The respondent has two savings accounts with an average balance of approximately
 For the first five years of their marriage, the parties lived in a wooden house for which the
applicant paid EC$80 in rent. The applicant states that she continually sought to convince
the respondent to construct a home for their family. The respondent submits however that
he needed no such encouragement as it was always his intention to build a home.
Inclusive of service charges, when paid.3
 Following Hurricane Luis in 1997 which damaged the wooden house, the parties moved
into the respondent’s sister’s house for which the respondent made periodic payments. At
or about this time, the respondent received permission from his father to construct the
matrimonial home on a part or portions of land registered in his father’s name. Over the
next two years, the parties undertook construction of the home for which no financing was
 By affidavit dated 28
July 2008, the applicant states that she assisted in clearing the site,
piling up rocks which were used in the construction of the foundation, digging the
foundation with a pick, mixing concrete for the flooring, carrying blocks and installing
windows. Her two children also allegedly undertook certain work on the site, as directed by
the respondent. She states further that she arranged and financed a “jollification” for
persons who assisted in pouring the roof and also purchased groceries and cooked for the
respondent, his brothers and father when the interior and some of the exterior of the house
was plastered. The applicant also notes that she made financial contributions to the
matrimonial home having purchased tiles on account at Watkins Hodge, bought
furnishings for the home
, regularly applied her salary towards maintaining the family by
buying food and clothes and assisted in paying merchant/household bills when so
requested by the respondent. The applicant contends also that she assisted the
respondent in paying off a bank loan on a truck which he owned, but she ceased making
these payments when she discovered that he had committed adultery and conceived a
child. The applicant contends that in addition to these responsibilities, she also regularly
sent groceries to her family in Dominica.
 The respondent in large measure concedes that the applicant provided assistance during
the construction phase of the matrimonial home although he disputes the extent of her
contribution. He notes in particular that the applicant did not mix concrete for the flooring or
assist in installing windows and denies that the petitioner’s sons regularly assisted on site.
The respondent states that he designed the home, purchased materials for construction of
the house (with the exception of tiles purchased by the applicant) and undertook, with the
assistance of his father and brothers, most of the construction. The respondent contends
A wall unit, 3 beds, wares, television, freezer, dressing tables, sheets, towels and kitchen appliances4
that he bought a stove and also purchased lumbar which was used to make furniture for
the home. He also paid the household bills including the petitioner’s telephone bill,
provided money for her to support her children in Dominica and shipped groceries to them.
He submits that he only ceased paying her telephone bills when he discovered that calls
were being made to the father of her other children. He submits further that the applicant
only sometimes purchased food.
 The parties ceased living as husband and wife in August 2005
or July 2006
they continue to reside at the matrimonial home. The applicant, who presently sleeps in
the second bedroom with her son, states that, at present, she cannot afford to rent
appropriate accommodation. She seeks a half share of the matrimonial home so that she
can have “a clean break from the Respondent” and start her life again.
however requests that the applicant be granted no more than a ¼ share in the matrimonial
home which interest is to be transferred to the applicant. He further requests that the
applicant vacate the matrimonial home within a month of the court’s judgment
 The parties jointly paid for a valuation of the matrimonial home which estimated its value at
between US$60,000 – US$67,000.
 The governing statute is the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act (“the MPPA”).
The MPPA grants the court a wide discretion with respect to ancillary awards which
includes the power to vest the matrimonial home in the parties in common, to direct the
sale of the matrimonial home or to direct that either party pay to the other such sum as is
In so ordering or directing, the court must be satisfied, inter alia, that
both parties have made a substantial contribution to the matrimonial home.
Applicant’s Petition dated 14
Respondent’s Answer dated 2
Applicant’s Affidavit dated 28
July, 2008 at para. 27
Chap. M60 of the Revised Statutes of Anguilla
See sections 53 and 54 5
 It is now well established that there should be no discrimination when assessing the roles
of husband and wife.
This principle has been authoritatively stated in Stonich v Stonich10
and followed in Fusse Durham v Fusse Durham11
and Leah Zilpha Richardson v Ovin
. Having regard to the foregoing, there can be no doubt that both
parties have made substantial contributions to the matrimonial home and the welfare of the
 The equality principle has been urged upon me in accordance with the learning eschewed
in Miller v Miller and McFarlane v McFarlane
and the aforementioned cases. The
cases recognize that parties arrange their affairs in such a way that it may work to the
detriment of one of the parties to the marriage and enhance the earning capacity of the
other, which factor should accordingly be taken into account.
 In the circumstances of this case, it is clear that the contributions made by the applicant to
the household enabled the respondent to enhance his earning capacity. It is also patently
clear that the respondent will fare better in the future in terms of earnings than the
applicant given his trade and the demand for such skills in Anguilla. I take cognizance also
of the fact that the marriage lasted for some 15 years and that there is no significant
difference in the ages of the parties.
 On application of the MPPA14
and having regard to the respective contributions of the
parties and all the circumstances of the case, I am satisfied that it is fair and just to award
the petitioner a 50% interest in the matrimonial home, and I so order.
 The applicant has requested a sum of money equivalent to the applicant’s beneficial
interest in the matrimonial home or alternatively such lump sum as the court deems just. It
was held in Wachtel v Wachtel
White v White  1 AC 596 as followed in Stonich v Stonich BVI Civil Appeal No. 17 of 2002 and Fusse-Durham v
Fusse Durham Anguilla Civil Appeal No. 21 of 2005 per Creque J.
AXA HMT 2005/0006
 UKHL 24,  2 AC 618
Particularly sections 23, 26, 53 and 54
 EWCA Civ 106
“No order should be made for a lump sum unless the husband has capital
assets out of which to pay it without crippling his earning capacity…When
the husband has available capital assets sufficient for the purpose, the
court should not hesitate to order a lump sum…the wife should be
compensated for the loss of her share by being awarded a lump sum. It
should be a sum sufficient to enable her to get settled in a place of her
own, such as putting down a deposit on a flat or house.”
 In determining whether to grant a lump sum payment the court must exercise its powers so
as to place the parties, so far as just and practicable, in the financial position in which they
would have been if the marriage had not broken down and each had properly discharged
his or her financial obligations and responsibilities towards the other.
 Having regard to the respondent’s savings and to the fact that he may easily be registered
as the proprietor of the land.
I am satisfied that the respondent has sufficient capital
assets out of which to pay without crippling his earning capacity. I consider that a period of
six months would allow the respondent sufficient time to effect registration and to raise a
loan thereon if necessary. The respondent is accordingly ordered to pay to the applicant
the lump sum payment of US$32,000.00 within a period of six months. In accordance with
the court’s power under section 52 of the MPPA, the applicant is at liberty to remain in
occupation of the matrimonial home until such payment has been made.
 Based upon the foregoing, I make the following declaration and orders:
(1) That the applicant is entitled to a one half share in the matrimonial home;
(2) It is directed that the respondent pay to the applicant the lump sum of
US$32,000.00 representing the fair value of the applicant’s one half share of the
matrimonial home to be paid within six months.
(3) Pending payment of the lump sum, the applicant is hereby granted the right to
occupy the matrimonial home.
Section 26(1) of the MPPA.
The land has effectively been given to him by his father, Hezekiah Gumbs7
 The applicant seeks to recover costs in the sum of US$1500 on the ground that she has
had to take legal action to recover her share of the matrimonial home. The respondent
contends however that each party should bear his or her own costs.
 I consider that in matters of this kind there is, in reality, no winner or loser given the court’s
remit to do what is fair and just in providing as far as possible for a clean break between
the parties in respect of a failed marriage. One or the other may institute proceedings for
this purpose. Unless it can be shown that the other party has behaved unreasonably
towards the other, say for example by thwarting all efforts at arriving at an amicable
settlement or behaved in a manner intended to oppress the other, the appropriate order
should be no order as to costs. No such conduct is alleged in this case. Accordingly, in
the exercise of my discretion, I order that there shall be no order as to costs.
High Court Judge