EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
TERRITORY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
CLAIM NO. BVIHCV2011/042
ANTHONY BRAMBLE dba TROPICAL CONSTRUCTION
J.S. Archibald QC and Patricia Archibald-Bowers for the Claimant
Me Menelick Miller of Farara Kerins for the Defendant
2014: 25th September
 Ellis, J: By Further Amended Claim Form filed on 4th August 2011, the Claimant
sought the following relief against the Defendant herein:
i. Payment of the sum of $45,509.20 in respect of arrears owed by the
Defendant to the Claimant;
ii. The return of construction equipment and materials or $23,550.00
being the value and damages;
iii. The sum of $68,245.60 in respect of future losses owed by the
Defendant to the Claimant;
vi. Costs; and
vii. Such further and other relief as this Honourable Court deems just.
 This Further Amended Statement of Claim sets out the Claimant’s case. He
contends that by fixed price construction contract dated 31 May 2010, he agreed
to carry out construction on the property registered as Block 3440B Parcel 280,
East End Registration Section of a basement level floor plan for a price of
$233,111.50 which sum was payable in instalments (drawdowns) and in advance
of each of the 4 phases of the project.
 Pursuant to the contract, works commenced on or about 15th June 2010 and in
accordance with the terms of the contract, the Claimant was to use all reasonable
efforts to complete the works within 9 months of the signing of the Contract
(barring the Defendant’s failure to make construction payments, acts of
governmental authorities, force majeure or any similar causes not within the
Claimant’s control). In furtherance of this, the Claimant carried onto the property
construction materials and equipment owned by him which were required to carry
out the said construction work.
 On or about 16th September 2010, the Defendant sought to terminate the contract.
The Claimant contends such termination was wrongful and in breach of the
contract. He claims that he suffered loss and damage as a result of this breach
including unpaid monies for the third drawdown as well as loss of future monies for
deprivation of doing work stipulated in the contract.
 The Claimant also contends that notwithstanding that the Parties agreed that he
would be able to remove and recover his construction equipment and materials
following this purported determination of the contract, he was unable to enter the
property as it was chained off. He was subsequently informed by the Defendant
that she had disposed of the said construction equipment and materials. He
contends that the equipment and materials were not returned and that as a result
he has suffered loss and damage in the amount of $23,550.60. He also claims
loss of use of the equipment and materials since 2nd November 2010.
 In a Defence filed on 31st August 2011, the Defendant does not deny the details of
the contract which was agreed between the Parties. She states that this
agreement was made partly orally and partly in writing which is evidenced in the
construction agreement dated 31st May 2010.
 This Claim is opposed by the Defendant who contends that in breach of the
express and/or implied terms of the agreement, the Claimant refused to
communicate at all or in a timely manner; failed to keep her abreast of the
progress of the works; failed to provide proof of costs; and failed to act as the
principal in supervising the works. The Defendant asserts that the following terms
must be implied into the contract:
i. The works were to be carried out with reasonable skill and expertise
and in the shortest possible time and/or at the lowest possible costs to
ii. At all material times the term of 9 months was a long stop for
iii. She would be kept abreast of the progress of the works and be
provided with proof of the costs arising therefrom;
iv. That the Claimant would personally be responsible for carrying out or
supervising the construction works.
 The Defendant contended that the works actually began on 7th June 2010 when
clearing and excavation commenced. She contended however that the Claimant
failed to carry out the work within a reasonable time. In support of this contention,
the Defendant posited that the work which was spread over approximately 4
months could have been done in a much shorter time and that she was obliged to
make repeated demands to the Claimant to carry out and complete the works.
 On the 16th September 2010, the Defendant claims that she wrote to the Claimant
terminating the contract on the basis that she considered the progress of the
works to be too slow and that completion could have been effected within 4
months of the contract date.
 Although she freely admitted that construction equipment was taken unto the site,
she put the Claimant to strict proof as to the nature and the value of the said
equipment. She contended that by letters dated 23rd November 2010 and 7th
February 2011, she wrote to the Claimant requesting the removal of the equipment
from her property. The Claimant having not complied by 11th February, the
Defendant concluded that this constituted an unlawful use of her property and/or
trespass on it and she took steps to remove the same.
 The Defendant stated that due the breakdown of the contractual relationship, a
meeting was convened between the Parties on 26th September 2010 in
accordance with clause 8 of the Agreement. Mr Courtney De Castro purported to
act as a Mediator and the Defendant contended that at that meeting, the Parties
expressly agreed to bring their business relationship to a close at the end of the
current phase of the project, i.e. the second phase.
 The Defendant also contends that during that meeting, it was also agreed that the
Claimant would continue the works falling within second phase of the agreement
because he would have already been in receipt of monies paid to him in advance
to complete that phase1. The Defendant contends that the Claimant continued to
work until on or about 2nd November 2010 when the works under the second
phase of the agreement were completed. The Defendant contends that this was
contrary to the express representation by the Claimant that the second phase was
projected to be completed on or about 30th September 2010.
1 He had already been paid two instalments under Clauses 6 (a) and (b) of the contract and was owed the
instalments in clauses 6 (c) and (d) in the amount of $45,409.20 and $68,245.60.
 Notwithstanding this earlier agreement, by letter dated 1st October 2012, the
Claimant’s wife wrote to the Defendant indicating the Claimant’s intention to
continue to work past the completion of the second stage of the agreement. The
letter sets out the following terms: “We did indicate to you at said meeting that you
will be receiving a letter from the company on the decision made then. We are
informing you that contrary to our conversation, we will continue to construct said
dwelling in accordance with contract signed and accepted by the National Bank of
the Virgin Islands on 31st May 2010. It is the intention of the company to complete
 The Defendant’s case is that by this time, the original agreement of 31st May 2010
had come to an end and could no longer be relied upon by the Claimant. Following
the completion of the second stage of the works, the Defendant contends that
there was no agreement subsisting herself and the Claimant. The Defendant
retained the services of a new contractor to complete the works and erected a
barrier on the property on 7th December 2010 with the intention of protecting the
property rather than specifically to restrict the Claimant’s access to the Property.
 The Claimant responded in a Reply which was filed on 16th September 2011. He
denied that the Agreement between the Parties was partially oral and written. His
case is that the agreement is only memorialised in the written construction
agreement dated 31st May 2010 which was prepared by him and duly executed by
the Defendant. The Defendant concedes that it was an implied term of the contract
that the works would be carried out with reasonable care and expertise, but he
joins issue on all of the other alleged terms implied by the Defendant.
 Moreover and in any event, he contends that at all times he kept the Defendant
abreast of the progress of the works and provided proof of the costs arising
therefrom. He also contends that he was in fact the principal responsible for
supervising the works.
 The Claimant agrees that the agreed time for the completion of the entire project
was 9 months and he contends that the works were being carried out in a timely
manner (as evidence by a letter from the lender Bank). He attributed any delay in
completing the second phase of the works by the projected date to inclement
 With regard to the meeting of 26th September 2010, the Claimant denies that there
was any agreement for the Parties to go their separate ways after completion of
the second phase of the contract. In fact, he contends that the letter of 1st October
2010 clearly stated his position that the decision had been made to continue to
complete the project. The Claimant’s position is that the contract was never
 The Claimant does not deny that he received the Defendant’s letters in which she
demanded the removal of his equipment from her property, but he contended that
he was hampered in such removal by the chain erected by the Claimant which
prevented his access to the equipment and materials. In these premises, he
denies that there was any unlawful use or trespass of the Claimant’s property.
 At the trial, the Claimant gave evidence on his own behalf and called two other
witnesses. The Defendant also gave evidence and called two other witnesses in
support of her case.
 In his witness statement filed on 30th April 2012, the Claimant describes himself as
one of the directors of the “Tropical Construction Company”. He stated that this
Company entered into a contract with the Defendant for the construction of a
basement at her residence in East End. The estimated time for completion of the
project was 9 months. He stated however that at the time of execution of the
agreement, he explained to the Defendant that although the completion time is
stipulated as 9 months, the project may be completed prior to this taking into
account the weather and any unforeseen problems as the project was being
carried out during the hurricane season.
 The Defendant also stated that in a subsequent meeting at which his wife, June
Bramble and the Defendant were present, he introduced the Defendant to his
employee, Mr Everton Henry and went over the construction plans in detail. Work
commenced thereafter. However, problems commenced when the Defendant
began to ask for all receipts generated in connection with the project. The
Claimant refused to comply, explaining that the cheques were being made to
Tropical Construction and not the Defendant. He also reminded her that she had
been provided with an estimate for the project which provided a breakdown of the
costs. The Claimant states that after several communications on this issue, the
Defendant ceased direct contact with him and instead communicated with his wife
and with Mr Everton Henry.
 He stated that Mr Henry gave the Defendant daily up-to-date reports of the
progress of the project and that all of her concerns were dealt with.
Notwithstanding this, the Defendant began to complain that there were not
sufficient workmen on the site and that they were not working fast enough. The
Claimant stated that the Defendant based this assessment on the advice which
she received from third parties who she brought on to the site after his workmen
 The Claimant conceded that there were delays in the project, but he attributed this
to the heavy rains which shut down the Government and disrupted access to the
property (1 week delay) and the high winds which blew a projectile through the
Defendant’s neighbour’s front door which had to be replaced (1 week delay) . He
also indicated that there was a further delay of 1 week because of the local
 The Claimant’s evidence is that as a result of the difficulties in the contractual
relationship, the Defendant insisted on a meeting with a mediator. This meeting
was convened at the Digicel Corporate Office, but it soon became clear that the
purported mediator, Mr De Castro was actually the Defendant’s project manager.
The Claimant states that his wife refused to participate in the meeting because
Mr De Castro was not a court appointed mediator.
 The Claimant’s evidence is that the Defendant then indicated that unless they
complied with her request regarding the provision of receipts and regular
meetings, she would terminate the contract after the second drawdown. He stated
that it was his wife who told the Defendant that if that was her intention then they
would seek legal advice. He also stated that his wife asked the Defendant to put
her request in writing which she later did. After seeking legal advice, the Claimant
stated that his wife wrote to the Defendant informing her that they would continue
to complete the works because there was a binding contract between them.
 Following this, the Defendant told them that they would be off the job unless they
met the terms which she dictated. After the second drawdown, the Defendant
informed the Claimant that their services were no longer required and that she
would not be requesting a third drawdown.
 By this time, the Claimant stated that the project was ahead of schedule because
they had put some of their own funds into the project and were working in good
faith. The structure was in place and the major part of the plumbing and electrical
work was done. What remained to be done were the plastering of the building,
tiling, painting, and installation of fixtures, windows, doors and cupboards.
 The Claimant stated he was informed by Mr. Henry that he could not access the
site because it had been barred. No further work could be done because of this.
Later, when he attempted to retrieve his equipment from the Defendant’s property
it was chained off and she claimed to have no knowledge of the equipment.
However, during a subsequent mediation meeting when the subject was raised, he
stated that the mediator asked them to leave the room and spoke to the Defendant
and her attorney. The Claimant was later informed that the Defendant would make
no further comment at that time but would get back to them. It was during another
aborted mediation that the Defendant indicated that she knew where some of the
 The Claimant stated that there are outstanding bills from this project that have to
be paid and that they were unable to take on other projects as they no longer had
access to their equipment.
 The Claimant also gave sworn oral evidence during which he was crossexamined
on a number of material points. He testified that he was a contractor
with 10 years’ experience and he described the project in question as being a
straightforward one. He confirmed that the maximum completion time for the
contract was 9 months. He indicated that this was term set out in the written
contract and that he also confirmed this orally to the Defendant. Contrary to his
witness statement, he denied that he ever told the Defendant that the project could
be completed prior to the 9 months’ time frame. He denied that this was ever a
term of the agreement but stated it was just something that he would try to do.
 The Claimant testified that after work commenced, the Defendant was in frequent
contact with him. By June 2010, the Claimant confirmed that the Defendant began
to insist on being provided with receipts. He informed her that they had a signed
contract with no overhead profit so that the receipts belonged to the “Company”.
As a result, the Defendant began to communicate less with him and more with his
wife who he described as a director of the “Company”. He denied however that
this was because he became fed up with her and stopped answering his phone.
 The Claimant agreed that there came a time when the relationship with the
Defendant broke down because she was not getting receipts. He testified that he
was approached by the Defendant who suggested mediation. Counsel for the
Defendant referred the Claimant to a copy of an emailed message between Mrs.
June Bramble and the Defendant dated 21st September 2010 in which the
Defendant indicated that she had contacted a court appointed mediator who was
willing to hear the case. The message also indicated when “she” (the mediator)
would be available. The Claimant testified that he could not recall this
 While he recalled attending a meeting on 26th September 2010, he stated that it
was not mediation because there was no mediator present. According to him,
Mr De Castro introduced himself as a project manager and at no point during the
mediation did he describe himself as a mediator. He also denied that Mr De Castro
informed him that any agreement reached in the meeting would be legally binding.
The Claimant testified that although he was present throughout the
meeting, Mr De Castro left before the meeting commenced because Mrs Bramble
refused to continue to participate in the meeting in his presence.
 He agreed that as at the date of that meeting, he had received the drawdown for
the second phase and he said that he was in the process of completing the
second phase and beyond. On re-examination, he clarified that he had in fact
commenced the third phase of the project.
 The Claimant also denied that he agreed to hand over the project to the Defendant
after the completion of the second phase. Instead, his evidence is that he informed
her that he would decide on a course after he had discussed the matter with his
attorneys. He testified that the contract had not come to an end and based on
what had occurred, he felt that there was no reason to change that position.
 Counsel for the Defendant also put the letter dated 1st October 2010 to the
Defendant. Although he acknowledged his wife’s signature on the letter, he
claimed that he could not recall having seen it. Having read paragraph 3 of the
letter in which Mrs Bramble stated that: “We did indicate to you at said meeting
that you will be receiving a letter from the company on the decision made then. We
are hereby informing you that contrary to our conversation, we will continue to
construct said dwelling in accordance with contract signed and accepted by the
National Bank of the Virgin Islands on 31st May 2010. It is the intention of the
company to complete the said project”, the Claimant denied that he had changed
his mind or had reneged on his agreement that the contract would terminate after
completion of the second phase of the project.
 Notwithstanding his earlier want of recall, the Claimant later told the Court that it
became necessary to write this letter because the Defendant wanted them off the
site and they had to do something in writing. He reiterated that there was a written
binding contract which could not be terminated in the way the Claimant proposed.
 With regard to the missing equipment and materials, the Claimant conceded that
between November 2010 and February 2011, the Defendant had repeatedly
requested that he remove his equipment. These requests were made orally and in
writing but were ignored by him. He agreed that he had received the letter of 21st
November 2010 which made it clear that the Defendant wanted him to collect his
property. He also acknowledged the correspondence from the Defendant dated 7th
February 2011 which gave him until 11th February 2011 to remove his property
from the site. He testified that he could not recall the exact time when the Claimant
was contacted but he told the Court that some discussions were held after he
received that letter.
 The Claimant reiterated that because he was without his equipment, he was
hampered in carrying out other jobs. However, he provided no specific details of
these jobs and he told the Court that he made no effort to source or purchase
replacement equipment. In respect of the materials left on the site, he conceded
that these (including lumber which had been brought to the site before the
commencement of the works) had been purchased for the project and that he had
received payments for their purchase in phases 1 and 2 of the project. He denied
that he used the Defendant’s property as a dump site to store his equipment and
other items not directly related to the construction.
 He agreed that following the meeting of 26th September 2010 and the letter of 1st
October 2010, his wife contacted the lender bank demanding the drawdown for the
third phase of the project. He stated that this was done in to complete the project.
He indicated that prior to doing this, he did not consult the Defendant although he
was well aware of her position regarding the determination of the contract.
 When he was re-examined, the Claimant stated that when they received the
Defendant’s letter of 1st October 2010, he was still working on the site. He stated
that they completed work around 3rd October 2010 and that he could not recall
being on the site after November 26th 2010.
 Mrs June Bramble, the Claimant’s wife then gave evidence in support of the
Claimant. In her witness statement filed on 30th April 2010, she corroborated much
of the Claimant’s evidence. She asserted that she is one of the directors of the
“company”, Tropical Construction and the she prepared all correspondence on
behalf of the Company. She averred that after work commenced on the project,
they received numerous emails from the Defendant about her concerns and that
these concerns were all dealt with accordingly.
 She stated during the course of the project there were delays or setbacks due to
public holidays and rainy weather. During that time, the Defendant complained that
the work was progressing too slowly. As a result, she convened a meeting during
which the Defendant indicated that she wished to have her property back at the
end of the second phase. According to Mrs. Bramble, she indicated that they
would provide their response in writing.
 After a period of time, she received an email from the Defendant indicating that the
Claimant must remove all materials and equipment from her property by a specific
deadline. She was later informed by Mr. Henry that they were unable to proceed to
the property to carry out further work because the property was then fenced and
barred. At that time, the second phase of the project was completed.
 Mrs Bramble testified that she then contacted her attorneys who advised her to
respond to the Defendant giving her a date and time when the equipment would
be removed from the property. However, they later attempted to retrieve the
property, they were prevented from doing so as there was a chain across the
entrance to the property.
 When she was cross-examined, she told the Court that the term of 9 months was
the maximum time it would take to complete the project. She denied that she told
to the Claimant that the project could be completed sooner. In fact, her evidence is
that she continually reminded the Defendant that the contract was for 9 months.
 She confirmed that after signing the contract, the Defendant began to contact her
regarding receipts. When she was questioned about the breakdown in
communication between the Defendant and Mr Bramble, Mrs Bramble’s evidence
became quite cagey. She first indicated that she could not speak to this and later
she stated that she could not recall when the breakdown occurred.
 Mrs Bramble testified that sometime in September 2010, the Defendant contacted
her about mediation and she responded by asking her to identify a court appointed
mediator. The Defendant then told her that it was not a mediation but rather a
meeting with a project manager. She denied that the Defendant made it clear that
the purpose of the meeting was to mediate their dispute.
 When Mrs Bramble was referred to Clause 8 of the contract, she explained that
this clause was necessary because not all parties see eye to eye and it would be
best to settle by mediation before going to court. Mrs Bramble agreed that when
she was approached by the Defendant, court proceedings had not commenced.
She could not explain how a mediator could be appointed by a court in the
absence of an extant legal proceeding. Despite protracted examination by
Counsel for the Defendant, Mrs Bramble reiterated that when she read the
Defendant’s emailed message of 21st September, she felt that she was attending a
meeting rather than a mediation because she did not know the identity of the court
 Mrs Bramble also testified that during the meeting, her husband, Mr Henry, the
Defendant and Mr De Castro were present. She denied that Mr De Castro was
introduced as the mediator or that he informed them that any agreement which
they reached would be binding. She stated that when she arrived at the meeting,
she was puzzled by Mr. De Castro’s presence and when she enquired, the
Defendant told her that he was a project manager hired by her. She denied
Counsel’s suggestion that she had been told in no uncertain terms that Mr De
Castro was a project manager by profession who had been retained as a mediator
in the matter. She repeated that she was not aware that he was a mediator.
 She denied that she agreed to terminate the contract after the completion of the
second stage of the contract. When she was referred to the letter of 1st October
2010, she acknowledged the same and agreed that she had signed it. However,
she denied that the letter indicated that a decision had been made at the 26th
September 2010 meeting to terminate the contract after the second phase. She
testified that she never indicated to the Defendant that they would stop work on
 She testified that they continued to work on the project after that date and when
Counsel enquired as to the date when they completed the second phase, Mrs
Bramble responded that she thought it was 2nd November 2010. She also told the
Court that the contract was divided into 4 stages. When work ceased on 2nd
November 2010, they were at the second stage of the contract and they were on
schedule to complete within the contracted time.
 She agreed that she had been contacted by the Defendant regarding the removal
of the equipment and materials from the property. She also agreed that between
December 2010 and 11th February 2011, no efforts were made to retrieve them.
Rather, she testified that she passed the Defendant’s letters to her attorneys.
However, she could not recall whether her attorneys responded to the Defendant.
When she was questioned by the Court, Mrs Bramble indicated that she did not
respond to the Defendant’s letters because she had been instructed by her
attorneys to bring in the letters to them. She further stated that they did not collect
the equipment and material on the advice of their attorneys who advised them that
they must leave the equipment on the property.
 The Claimant’s final witness was Mr Everton Henry who in his witness statement
told the Court that he had been employed to assist in the construction of the
Defendant’s home. He stated that he was the supervisor of the excavation and the
employee who laid out the building and who carried out the construction.
 He stated that the Defendant visited the site almost every day and that he
explained the ground work and responded to her questions. He described their
relationship as a good one and he indicated that when the Defendant requested
receipts, he referred her to the Claimant. He also asserted that the Defendant
never told him that she had any problems with the building, neither did she ever
complain about the length of time for completion.
 Mr Henry averred that after the second phase of the work had been completed, he
was unable to continue working as the Defendant’s property had been fenced and
barred. He recalled seeing the mixer, water container and other stuff inside the
barrier but he did not remove the same.
 He stated that sometime later, the Defendant asked him to remove their property;
otherwise, she would put it on the road and would not be held responsible. He
informed her that she needed to speak to Mr Bramble. He related this
conversation to the Claimant who told him that he would be seeking legal advice.
 He also told the Court that when he finally went on the site to collect the
equipment, there was a chain across the property preventing access to the site
and all of the equipment and materials had been removed. He later had a
conversation with one “Yellow” who informed him that he took some of the jacks
while some of the other materials were taken by other workers. When he was reexamined,
he confirmed that he never received the concrete mixer (valued at
$6,000.00) which had been left on the property and which belonged to him.
 During his oral testimony, Mr Henry testified that in September 2010, the project
was on schedule and would have been completed by November 2010. He stated
that for a house of that size only 4 – 5 months construction time was required. He
agreed that there were delays cause by the Festival celebrations and a hurricane
but despite this, he stated that the works would have been completed by
 Although Mr Henry recalled attending a meeting with Mr De Castro, he could not
recall very much about it. He could not recall how long it lasted, whether he was
present throughout or how the meeting concluded. But he could not recall whether
Mr De Castro made any statements prior to leaving the meeting or whether the
Parties had agreed to terminate the contract following the second phase.
Nevertheless, he recalled that Mr De Castro left of the meeting at an early stage.
 He testified that following that meeting, he returned to the site (no specific date
mentioned) to carry out works but found that there was a barrier which prevented
access to the property. When it was suggested to him that he continued to work on
the project up until November 2010, he indicated that he could not do so because
there was a barricade which prevented him from entering the property.
 In her witness statement filed on 24th April 2012, the Defendant averred that the
term of completion had been mandated by her bankers who had indicated that
they were willing to give a construction loan for up to a 9 month term.
Notwithstanding this, she stated that it was a clear understanding between Mr
Bramble and herself that the house would be completed by her birthday in
 She confirmed that at the start of the project, Mr Bramble arranged a meeting on
site with Mr Everton Henry and his wife. According to the Defendant, she was
informed that Mr Henry would be the builder but it was her expectation that her
interaction would be with Mr Bramble who negotiated the contract with her.
However, this was the first and only time that she ever saw either of the Brambles
on the site.
 Three months after the project commenced, she began to express some serious
concerns. When seeking updates on the progress of the works, she was unable to
reach Mr Bramble by phone. When she finally did reach him, his wife informed her
that Mr Bramble does not talk much and that she should liaise with her instead.
Although this was completely at variance with her pleadings, the Defendant’s
evidence is that she had no problems with this because she simply wanted to have
her house built.
 The Defendant also stated that she did not receive the expected financial updates
on the project. Her request for receipts (evidencing the money spent) was flatly
refused. She stated that Mrs Bramble also flatly refused to provide an expected
finish date for the project despite the fact that construction was not progressing to
her satisfaction. In addition, her request to hire additional workmen in order to
expedite the project was also rejected. The Defendant stated that this caused her
great irritation because she had been consulting with several third parties and had
developed an uneasy feeling that the project was on a “go slow”. She was forced
to communicate this concern to the Brambles via email because Mr Bramble was
no longer answering her calls and messages.
 After it became clear that they were at a stalemate, the Defendant stated that she
wrote to Mrs Bramble on 16th September 2010 seeking a termination at the end of
the second phase. She stated that the Claimant responded by threatening to sue.
She reminded Mrs Bramble of the contractual terms which mandated mediation
and they agreed that she would make the necessary arrangements.
 Mr De Castro agreed to be a mediator and a meeting was convened on 26th
September 2010 during which the Defendant expressed her concerns and
reiterated her request that the contract be terminated after the second phase. The
Defendant’s evidence is that both Mr and Mrs Bramble agreed to terminate after
the second phase and Mrs Bramble promised to send a formal letter before the
end of the week setting out the agreement reached to wit: that the Claimant would
exit the site and hand over the project at the completion of phase 2 and that they
would have no further obligations to each other.
 However a few days later, the Defendant received a letter which purported to
recant on their agreement. This letter was rejected by the Defendant who had by
then hired an alternative contractor (Mr. Garraway) to complete the contract.
 She later stated that prior to contracting Mr Garraway, there was no activity taking
place on the site, as a result she sought to secure the property by erecting a chain
fence across the entrance in an effort to deter interlopers. She was aware that
some equipment including a wheelbarrow, saw, concrete mixer, a few jacks and a
generator were left on the property along with a few pieces of plywood. On 23rd
November 2010, she wrote the Claimants requesting their removal which was
followed by another letter of 7th February 2011. In the letter, she indicated that if
the property was not removed by 11th February 2011 at 4:00 p.m. then she would
dispose of the same. She received no response until well after the 11th February
 When she gave oral testimony, the Defendant’s evidence was largely consistent
with that of her witness statement. In examination in chief, she indicated that the
agreement to mediate was set out in the email exchanges between Mrs Bramble
and herself. In the email of 21st September 2010, Mrs Bramble agreed that the
Defendant’s would contact an arbitrator/mediator, and in her emailed response,
Mrs Bramble indicated that she had contacted a “court appointed mediator”. She
later clarified to the Court that her intention was to contact someone who had
merely been sanctioned by the court. She could not however, confirm that Mr De
Castro was a court appointed mediator. She testified that she had never employed
Mr De Castro to act as a project manager and she denied that she ever informed
the Claimant or Mrs Bramble that Mr De Castro was the project manager on the
 She told the Court that she made it clear to the Brambles that they were attending
a mediation. She also testified that the session lasted for about 1 hour and that
Mr De Castro left about 45 minutes into the meeting prior to its conclusion. She
could not say what documents he had in his possession, whether he took notes
during the session or if he was paid for attending the meeting.
 When she was cross-examined, the Defendant agreed that there was no provision
in the contract which required the Claimant to provide her with receipts or bills.
She also agreed that the written contract provided a term of 9 months for
completion and she conceded that this term was not preceded by the phrase “on
or before”. Although she insisted that there was an implied term that the project
would be completed in the soonest possible time and at the lowest possible costs,
she indicated that she expected the construction would be completed no later than
28th February 2011. She also conceded that she did not expect that the project
would cost less than the contracted sum of $233,111.50.
 Notwithstanding these concessions, the Defendant testified that one of the
reasons that she wanted to terminate the contract was because she had
concluded that the project should have be completed within 4 months. She stated
that she arrived at this conclusion after she conducted her own research and after
speaking to third parties. She also stated that at some point, Mr Bramble told her
that she could very well have the house completed by her birthday in November
2010. The Defendant told the Court that the Claimant failed to carry out the works
within a reasonable time. It was her view that the Claimant should have carried out
a lot more work by the time the contract came to an end. She stated that the
Claimant did not use all reasonable efforts to carry out the works.
 The Defendant denied that she invented these concerns because she simply did
not want to pay for the third and fourth phase under the contract. Instead, when
she was questioned further, she listed the reasons why she terminated the
contract. She stated that the main reasons were:
(i) the lack of accountability in terms of how her money was being
spent (her request for receipts was categorically refused on the
basis of company policy); and
(ii) the slow pace of the work (by the third month the project should
have been in the third phase). In addition, she was concerned
(iii) the fact that the workers employed on the project had not been
vetted to determine their skill level or whether they were otherwise
fit and proper employees;
(iv) her inability to properly discuss her concerns with the Claimant
who stopped taking her calls and refused to schedule regular
(v) the fact that both the Claimant and Mr Everton would refer her to
each other when she expressed her concerns.
 She said that there was no resolution of these concerns. Out of desperation, she
turned to Mrs Bramble who told her “if that is how you feel, we will just give you
back your project at the end of phase 2”. After this, the meeting ended when she
promised to write a letter crystallising what had been agreed. The Defendant
stated that at no time did the Claimant indicate that he would need to seek legal
 She also testified that although to a great extent she was satisfied with Mr Everton
Henry, she had indicated to him that she was not pleased with the calibre of
particular workmen on the job. She stated that Mr Henry was introduced as a
partner in the business and the person who would be responsible for building the
house. She could not recall that he was to act as supervisor on the project. In fact,
she stated that she expected Mr Bramble to supervise because he represented
himself to her as a contractor and in any event, he was the one with whom she
 She further testified that one month after the construction had ceased (November
– December 2010), she regarded the equipment as having been abandoned.
Initially, she denied that she agreed that Mr Garraway could take the equipment in
lieu of payment or as partial payment. She explained that after taking legal advice,
when the project came to an end and work was finished in March 2011, she asked
Mr Garraway to clear the property. She indicated that she was not aware of how
Mr Garraway disposed of the equipment and materials. By the time she received
the correspondence from Mrs Bramble indicating that they would be coming to
collect the equipment, it was too late. The equipment had already been removed in
late February. However, when she was question further, the Defendant finally told
the Court that Mr Garraway had informed her that there was some remedial work
which needed to be done and which would increase the costs. When he inquired
about the mixer, she recognised that the equipment would have some value and
since she did not have the extra money to pay for those remedial works, she told
him that he could have the equipment.
 The Defence’s next witness was Mr Richard Courtney De Castro. He stated that
he is an architect/ project manager of 25 years’ experience. He provided 2 witness
statements. He averred that in late September 2010 he was contacted by the
Defendant in connection with a dispute which she had with her contractor and he
indicated that he was willing to act as a mediator between the Parties.
 When the meeting was eventually convened, the Brambles, Mr Everton Henry and
the Defendant were present. He stated that before and during the mediation, he
explained to all parties that any agreement reached at the mediation would be
binding on the parties.
 He soon recognised that the mediation was somewhat hostile and that the Parties
had arrived at an impasse. He noted that the Defendant was disgruntled about the
pace of the work and insisted on getting a definite date for the completion of the
project. The Defendant felt that there was not a substantial amount of work
completed to show for the funds which had been disbursed to date. She felt that
she was not getting value for money and she insisted on seeing receipts for the
materials purchased for the project. Mr Bramble was unwilling to provide copies of
those bills in order to justify the amount sought on the drawdown and he was also
unwilling to provide a date for completion. Instead, he was firm that he would finish
within the time set out in the construction agreement.
 He further stated that at the time of the mediation, the Claimant had made a
request for drawdown for phase 3 of the project. His understanding was that the
drawdown was sought in advance and that in fact the Claimant was then working
on completing phase 2. He stated that prior to the meeting, he visited the site with
the Defendant where he found the state of the works were as follows: (1) exterior
and interior walls were up; (2) main floor slab completed; (3) steel in place for the
columns; (4) the building was up to the ring beam stage; (5) there were insufficient
materials to complete the next phase of construction although materials could
have been off site.
 Mr De Castro’s evidence is that when the Defendant asked to have her project
back, Mrs Bramble eventually expressed her agreement to hand over the project
upon completion of the second phase and she stated that she would put this in
writing. He stated that when he left the meeting, it was his understanding that the
Parties had agreed that the Claimant would complete the second stage and would
hand over the project thereafter and that each side would walk away from each
other. There was no discussion about payment of any further money.
 In his oral testimony, Mr De Castro stated that he is not a court appointed mediator
but that he has acted as a mediator before. He denied that he was engaged on the
construction contract or that he informed anyone at the meeting that he was a
project manager or that anyone referred to him as such. When he was reexamined,
he testified that at the beginning of the meeting, he clearly indicated
what his role would be and referred to the mediation clause in the Agreement.
 He stated that as the meeting continued the Parties were eventually able to agree
that the contract would be terminated and the project handed over to the
Defendant.. Counsel for the Defendant questioned Mr De Castro at some length
about the fact that there was no document signed by both Parties setting out any
agreement reached during the meeting. He agreed that with his experience and in
the hostile context any agreement reached should have been reduced into writing.
 Mr. De Castro also testified he was present for about 1 hour, during which time the
Defendant and Mrs Bramble did most of the talking. Initially, he stated that he
could not recall Mr Bramble saying anything during the meeting but he later stated
that he might have heard Mr Bramble saying that he would be able to finish the
project within the time set out in the agreement.
 He disagreed that he said nothing during the meeting, but he confirmed that he
was the first person to leave and that he left before the meeting was finished. He
could not recall being asked to leave the meeting but he agreed that the
commencement of the meeting there were discussions about his role. He
described the Parties as neutral by the time the meeting ended.
 The last witness for the Defence was Mr Roy Garraway, the professional
contractor who was hired by the Defendant to complete the project after the
second phase. His evidence was relevant only in regard to the disposal of the
equipment and materials which were left on the Defendant’s property by the
Claimant. In his witness statement, he stated that he commenced work on the site
in January 2011 and at that time the building was incomplete. He confirmed that
he had to do some remedial work to correct certain errors. This included adjusting
the level of the porch to ensure that it was not flush with the invert level of the
door. He also had to rectify some plumbing and electrical issues which included
running new pipes.
 He also stated that when he went on the site to commence work, there were a few
pieces of equipment. He recalled a gas generator, cement mixer, around 50 jacks
and some old materials which were of no use. There was also an old shed. His
evidence is that the mixer and jacks were given to him by the Defendant as partial
payment for the remedial works which had not been budgeted for in the bill of
quantities. He stated that the mixer was not in working order but he eventually
repaired it. He was not aware of what happened to the generator. Finally, he
stated that the old materials were dumped during the clean-up process.
 At some pains, Counsel for the Claimant examined Mr Garraway about the
equipment and materials which he found on the property. Mr Garraway testified
that the following items were found or seen on the property: (1) about 50 jacks; (2)
concrete mixer; (3) less than 20 old plywood forms; (4) generator; (5) 50 (rather
than 535) scattered flat shoes; (6) sledge/heavy hammer; (7) work shed which had
to be broken down; (8) 600 gallon water tank; (9) broken shovel; (10) broken down
wheelbarrow; and (11) igloo.
 He stated that the value of these items would be roughly $5000.00. He also
testified that the Defendant had told him that she had been trying to get the
Defendants to remove the equipment for some time. He stated that he used his
own equipment to complete the projects but the equipment and materials found at
the site were used to set off the cost of the remedial works.
 Mr Garraway either denied or claimed to have no knowledge of the following
items: (1) electric vibrator; (2) bundle of ½ inch steel; (3) pickaxes; (4) ripping bars;
(5) large support ties/ single shoe; (6) galvanise; and (7) spare wheel for F150
 Finally, he stated that using a work force of at least 5 – 6 men on site he was able
to complete the contract in about 1 ½ months at cost of $107,000.
COURT’S ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS
 The starting point for Court in assessing the relative legal positions of the Parties
is the Construction Agreement dated 31st May 2010 and signed by both the
Claimant and the Defendant. That Agreement provides the legal context of the
relationship between the Parties and ultimately, the resolution of this Claim will
depend on the interpretation and construction of its terms.
 In the absence of fraud or mistake, the Parties are bound by the terms of the
written agreement which they have signed. By signing the document, each party
has represented to the other that they have made themselves acquainted with its
contents and assented to them.2 The agreed terms of the contract therefore
evidence the intentions and expectations of the Parties and where a contract is
made wholly in writing, evidence is not generally admissible to add to, vary or
contradict the written terms3.
2 Harris v Great Western Rly Co. (1896) 1 Q.B.D. 515 at 530, per Lord Blackburn
3 Jacobs v Batavia and General Plantations Ltd  1 Ch. 287
 The justification of this rule of interpretation (now familiarly termed the Parole
Evidence Rule) is the need to promote certainty. In Shore v Wilson4, Tindal CJ
put it this way:
“ If it were otherwise , no lawyer would be safe in advising upon the construction
or a written instrument, nor any party in taking under it; for the ablest advice
might be controlled, and the clearest title undermined, if at some future period,
parole evidence of the particular meaning which the party affixed to his words or
of his secret intention in making the instrument or of the objects he meant to take
benefit under it might be set up to contradict or vary the plain language of the
 As with any rule however, there are exceptions5. The courts have expounded on
such exceptions and it is now well settled that unless a contract contains an “entire
agreement” clause, evidence is admissible to show that the writing was not
intended to be the entire contract between the parties. This imposes a burden on
the party alleging that the written document does not represent the full contract, to
counter the presumption that it does.6 It is also an exception that unless a contract
contains an “entire agreement” clause, evidence is admissible to prove a collateral
agreement. However, a distinction must be drawn between an agreement which
adds to the written agreement and one which contradicts it.7
 In the case at bar however, Clause 9 of the Agreement provides as follows:
“This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with
respect to the Property and the Owner hereby agrees that she is not entering into
this agreement upon the reliance of any statement or other representation
otherwise not contained herein.”
4 (1842) 9 Cl. & F. 355
5 There are some other exceptions which are less relevant. Evidence is admissible to identify the parties,
subject matter and additional consideration of a contract. It is also admissible to prove custom and where it
is sought to challenge the validity of the contract e.g. by claiming rectification or mistake or
6 Gillespie v Cheney Egar &Co.  2 Q.B. 59
7 Lynsar v National Bank of New Zealand  N. Z. L. R. 129
 In the Court’s view, this is critical contractual provision presents “an insuperable
hurdle”8 to any allegation that the contract was partly contained in statements
which were not recorded in the contract. In Inntrepreneur Pub Co v East Crown
Ltd9, the learned Lightman J made the following observation:
“The purpose of an entire agreement clause is to preclude a party to a written
agreement from thrashing through the undergrowth and finding in the course of
negotiations some (chance) remark or statement (often long forgotten or difficult
to recall or explain) on which to found a claim such as the present to the
existence of a collateral warranty. The entire agreement clause obviates the
occasion for any such search and the peril to the contracting parties posed by
the need which may arise in its absence to conduct such a search. For such a
clause constitutes a binding agreement between the parties that the full
contractual terms are to be found in the document containing the clause and not
elsewhere, and that accordingly any promises or assurances made in the course
of the negotiations (which in the absence of such a clause might have effect as a
collateral warranty) shall have no contractual force, save insofar as they are
reflected and given effect in that document. The operation of the clause is not to
render evidence of the collateral warranty inadmissible in evidence as is
suggested in Chitty on Contract 28th ed. Vol. 1 para 12–102: it is to denude what
would otherwise constitute a collateral warranty of legal effect.”
 In light of this established legal principle, the Court cannot accept the Defendant’s
contention that the agreement between the Parties was made partly orally and
partly in writing. This is especially so, where there are express terms which directly
conflict with the oral agreement which is alleged to have been made.
 Clause 2 of the Agreement expressly provides as follows:
“The Contractor shall use all reasonable efforts to complete the
construction works upon signing of this agreement and completion in 9
8 McGrath v Shah (9187) 57 R. & C.R. 452
9  2 Lloyd’s Rep 611 at 614; and see Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemical Corporation v Davy
McKee  2 Lloyds Rep 140, 138, affirmed  1 Lloyds Rep 387
months’ time thereafter provided however, that the delays caused by the
Owners’ failure to make construction payments in accordance with Appendix I of
this Agreement, act of governmental authorities (including delays in any
permitting process), force majeure, or any other similar causes not within the
Contractor’s control which are sufficient to constitute an impossibility of
performance or a frustration of purpose of delay outside the control of the
Contractor shall be added to the period.”
 Clause 4 of the Agreement expressly provides that;
“The Contractor agrees that they will at all times ensure appropriate
supervision of all construction works …”
 The Defendant’s contention is that notwithstanding this unambiguous contractual
provision, the actual agreement between the Parties is that (1) the subject matter
of the contract would have been completed and handed within 4 – 5 rather than 9
months, i.e. by November 2010 and (2) that Mr Bramble would personally
supervise the project rather than merely ensure that there was appropriate
supervision of all construction works.
 In the Court’s view, the entire agreement clause precludes the Defendant from
relying on the collateral representations or terms in order to underpin or justify her
desire to terminate the Agreement. It is clear that the purported collateral terms
are in direct conflict with the express provisions of the Agreement. Having carefully
reviewed the evidence, the Court is not satisfied that there was any agreement –
collateral or otherwise, that Mr Bramble would personally carry out or supervise
the works. Although this may well have been the Defendant’s impression, this
would not without more make it a legally enforceable or binding agreement.
 Additionally, while there is some evidence that the Claimant’s and/or Mr Henry
may have intimated that the project could be delivered earlier than the prescribed
time, such representations would not in the Court’s view override what had been
expressly agreed between the Parties.
 According to general principles of contractual interpretation, where a contract
provided for the performance of an act within a certain number of months, the
period expires on the day of the month bearing the same number as the date in
which the period begins or, if there is no such day on the last day of the month.
The court in Dodds v Walker 10 referred to this principle of interpretation as the
“corresponding date rule”.
 Given the precise wording in Clause 2 of the Agreement, this rule must be applied
with the rule of interpretation which prescribes that where a person is required to
perform to act “within” a certain period, the act may be performed up to the last
moment of the last day of that period. In Manorlike Ltd v Le Vitas Travel Agency
and Consultancy Services Ltd.  1 All. E.R. 573, Kerr LJ stated the
“If a person is required to do something within a week, or in a week, he has the
full week to do it, as it seems to me, including the last moment of that week, and
he is not required to complete the task in less than a week. To construe this
wording of this notice so that it connotes a period of less than three months,
because permission must be given “within” three months with a consequent
failure to allow a full period of three months, appears to me to strain the language
in a hair-splitting and wholly artificial manner.”
 It follows that (all things being equal), the Project which is the subject matter of the
Agreement should have been completed in February 2011.
 In written submissions, Counsel for the Claimant applied what he termed “an
objective test” regarding the formation of the contract. He argued that it is apparent
from the evidence that there was a meeting of the minds both orally and in written
and it was the mutual intention of the Parties to be bound that way. In support, he
cited the authority of Smith v Hughes (1871) 6 QB 597 where Blackburn J stated
10  1 W.L.R. 1061
“If, whatever a man’s real intention may be, he so conducts himself that a
reasonable man would believe that he was assenting to the terms proposed by
the other party, and that other party upon that belief enters into the contract with
him, the man thus conducting himself would be equally bound as if he had
intended to agree to the other party’s terms.”
The Defendant then cited the Defendant’s consistent calls for the project to
progress at an advance pace as demonstrating behaviour/conduct which would
override the express term in the contract.
 However in the Court’s view, the passage in Smith v Hughes merely shows that
in a case where the formation of a contract is in issue, the actual intention and
understanding of the recipient of the offer is relevant. Once it has been established
that a contract has been formed however, the actual intentions of the parties as to
the meaning or effect of the contract must be determined from the express terms
of the contract and from established rules of contractual interpretation. Having
regard to the totality of the evidence, the Court is unable to conclude it was the
mutual intention of the Parties that either of these clauses was intended to be an
 The Defendant also contended that the Claimant breached several implied terms
and that such breaches warranted an abridgment or termination of the Agreement.
These terms included:
i. The works were to be carried out with reasonable skill and
expertise and in the shortest possible time and/or at the lowest
possible costs to the Defendant.
ii. At all material times the term of 9 months was a long stop for
iii. She would be kept abreast of the progress of the works and be
provided with proof of the costs arising therefrom.
iv. That the Claimant would personally be responsible for carrying
out or supervising the construction works.
 Generally, there is a presumption against implying terms into written contracts.
The more detailed and apparently complete the contract, the stronger the
presumption.11 When called upon to imply a contractual term into a contract, the
proper approach of a court is that described by Cockburn CJ in Churchward v
R12 where he stated:
“…where a contract is silent, the court or jury who are called upon to imply an
obligation on the other side which does not appear in the terms of the contract
must take great care that they do not make the contract speak where it was
intentionally silent and above all that they do not make it speak entirely contrary
to what, as may be gathered from the whole terms and tenor of the contract was
the intention of the parties.”
 The presumption against adding terms is stronger where the contract is a written
contract which represents an apparently complete bargain between the parties13.
The more detailed and comprehensive the contract, the less ground there is for
supposing that the parties have failed to address their minds to a particular issue.
Where, however, the bargain is obviously not complete, the court is less reluctant
to supply the missing terms.
 The implication of a term into a contract depends on the presumed rather than the
actual intention of the parties. In some cases, the intention is collected merely from
the express words of the contract and the surrounding circumstances; in others, it
is collected from the nature of the legal relationship into which the parties have
entered. However, in order for a term to be implied the following conditions must
be fulfilled: (1) it must be reasonable and equitable; (2) it must be necessary to
give business efficacy to the contract so that no term will be implied if the contract
is effective without it; (3) it must be so obvious that it goes without saying; (4) it
11 Aspdin v Austin (1844) 5 Q.B 671
12 (1865) L.R. 1 Q. B. 173 at 195
13 Duke of Westminster v Guild  Q.B. 688 at 698
must be capable of clear expression; and (5) it must not contradict any express
term of the contract.14
 For the reasons which have already been indicated herein, the Court finds that
purported implied terms at (ii) and (iv) are not collateral to the Agreement.
Moreover, because the implication of a term rests upon the presumed rather than
the actual intention of the parties, the Court finds that it is unlikely that they would
have intended to incorporate by implication a term which is inconsistent with a
term they incorporated expressly.
 In Lynch v Thorne15, the Court held that where a building contract specified a
particular method of building which turned out to be defective, there was no room
for a general implied term requiring the building to be constructed so as to be fit for
human habitation when completed. Other cases have since taken the principle
further, holding that the court will not imply further terms in relation to the same
subject matter, even if the implied term would not actually conflict with express
 It follows that the first step for a Court is to compare the term or condition which
the Defendant seeks to imply, with the express provisions of the contract, and with
the intention of the parties as gathered from those provisions in order to ascertain
whether there is any inconsistency. Having conducted this comparison, this Court
is satisfied that the purported implied terms at (ii) and (iv) are inconsistent with the
express provisions of clause 2 and 4 of the Agreement and cannot be implied into
the contract. It follows that the Defendant could not rely on a purported breach of
the same to justify the termination of the contract.
14 B.P. Refinery (Westernport) Pty Ltd. v Shore of Hastings (1978) 52 A.L.J.R. 20
15  1 W.L.R. 303
 With respect to purported implied term in the second half of (i) which contemplates
that the contract be completed in the shortest possible time and/or at the lowest
possible cost to the Defendant, the same principles apply.
 Indeed, recent judicial authority now makes it clear that it is the contractor’s
obligation to finish by the completion date and it is up to him to organise his work
as he sees fit. If the contractor feels that he can leave all the work to the last
month and complete on time then, despite the concern of the anxiously watching
client, he may do so. If the client wishes to impose some other obligation then,
there needs to be an express term to that effect. Multiplex Constructions UC Ltd
v Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd  EWHC 1341 (TCC)
 Having entered into an agreement with express terms regulating the term of the
agreement and the contract price, the Defendant has advanced no cogent legal or
other basis upon these terms could be implied.
 With respect to the first half of the purported term in (i) which contemplates that
“the works were to be carried out with reasonable skill”, the Court is satisfied that
this clause meets all of the criteria for implication. However, the evidence before
the Court is that the Defendant’s dissatisfaction was not predicated on any lack of
skill in the carrying out of the works. While there is some evidence from
Mr Garraway and Defendant that remedial works were necessary (porch,
electrical and plumbing), it is quite clear that these issues would have come to light
after the Agreement between the Parties had essentially been terminated.
 In respect of the remaining term (iii), in which the Defendant asks the Court to
imply that she would be kept abreast of the progress of the works and be provided
with proof of the costs arising therefrom, the position is not as clear. Given that this
Agreement sets out what is essentially a fixed term contract, there would typically
be no obligation on the part of Defendant to show his costs unless there is a
contractual provision expressly requiring him to do so. In the circumstances, it
could not have been the presumed intention of the parties that this term should be
implied. If the Parties had intended for this provision to govern their relationship,
then a specific and express clause should have been included or alternatively, the
Parties should have entered into a cost-plus or cost reimbursement arrangement.
 In the same way, the Parties failed to expressly mandate the convening of regular
meetings between the Claimant and the Defendant to update on progress and to
discuss matters relating to the agreement. Industry practitioners have long
recognised the benefits of such a clause to maintaining the relationship of mutual
trust and confidence between contractor and client. Best practice dictates that it is
a good practice to hold regular update meetings with the client so as to ensure that
any issues, risks or problems are identified and fixed as early as possible in the
 The Court has no doubt that the relationship between these Parties broke down as
a direct result of lack of communication, trust and confidence between the Parties.
By failing or refusing to communicate with the Defendant in a timely and effective
manner, the Claimant did little to assist in the breakdown of the relationship. It is
readily apparent to the Court that the Claimant does not comprehend the legal and
personal capacity with which he entered into this agreement. He repeatedly
referred to Tropical Construction as an incorporated entity with “directors” when
there was no such evidence before the Court. Unfortunately, his advisors did not
appear to have alleviated this difficulty.
 Having heard the evidence and observed the Parties, the Court finds that the
Claimant did in fact refuse to take the Defendant’s calls and refused to meet with
her. Instead, he repeatedly passed her off to his agents who were not party to the
Agreement with the Defendant. Having entered into a contract with the Claimant,
an unincorporated entity, the Court finds that it is would not be unreasonable for
her to expect that he would cooperate and communicate with her and would not
conduct himself in a manner likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship
 It is within this context that Parties agreed to meet in September 2010 to discuss
their devolving relationship. The Court having read and heard the evidence has no
difficulty in concluding that this meeting was convened pursuant to Clause 8 of the
Contract which provides that:
“This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the Virgin Islands and each of
the parties hereby irrevocably submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Virgin
Islands court. However, remediation by …..(Engineer/Project manager) shall be
the first course of action in the case of any disagreement.”
 Notwithstanding the apparent misnomer in the Clause, the Court is satisfied that
both Parties were fully aware of the scope and intent of the meeting and were fully
aware of the role to be played by Mr De Castro. Having reviewed the exchange of
correspondence between the Parties, and having heard observed the witnesses,
the Court is satisfied that the Claimant’s witnesses were less than truthful in
relating their understanding of the purpose meeting and role of Mr De Castro.
 In any event the importance of that meeting lies not in the role played by Mr De
Castro or the designation/ label attached to the meeting but rather what agreement
(if any) emerged therefrom and its impact on the existing contract between the
Parties. In this regard, the Parties’ positions are diametrically opposed.
 The Defendant contends that the Parties agreed to terminate the contract after
completion of the second phase of the works with both sides mutually releasing
any further obligation which they may have had to each other. On the other hand,
the Claimant categorically denies this and contends that the Defendant wrongfully
breached the contract, subsequently terminating the Agreement on 7th December
2010 when she restricted the Claimant’s access to the site to carry out and
complete the work.
Discharge by Agreement
 It follows that the Court must consider not only the Parties’ evidence but also the
legal principles governing the termination of a contract by mutual agreement. In
that regard, the general legal principle is that an agreement by parties to an
existing contract to extinguish the rights and obligations that have been created is
itself a binding contract provided that it is either made under seal or supported by
consideration. Consideration raises no difficulty if the contract to be extinguished is
still executory, because in such a case each party agrees to release his rights
under the contract in consideration of a similar release by the other. The discharge
would therefore be bilateral because each party would surrender something of
 Moreover, the courts have concluded that a written contract may be rescinded by
parol either expressly or by the parties entering into a parol contract which is
entirely inconsistent with the written one, or inconsistent to the extent that it goes
to the very root of it. This legal principle was applied in British and Beningtons
Ltd. V North West Cachar Tea Co16 which case considered the ratio in Hunt v.
South Eastern Ry. Co.17, Thornhill v. Neats18 and Morris v. Baron & Co.19
However, the position was perhaps best summarised by Lord Haldane in Morris v.
Baron & Co. where he stated:
“Accordingly while a parol variation of a contract required to be in writing cannot
be given in evidence, the very authorities which lay down this principle also lay
down not less clearly that parol evidence is admissible to prove a total
abandonment or rescission. Now there is no reason why this should not be done
through the instrumentality of a new agreement which does not comply with the
16  AC 48 per Lord Sumner at page 68; applied in United Dominions Corporation (Jamaica) Ltd v
Shoucair (1968) 12 WIR 510 and Jagdeo Sookraj v Buddhu v Samaroo (2004) 65 WIR 401
17 (1875) 45 L. J. (Q. B.) 87
18 141 E.R. 1392
19  A.C. 1
statutory formalities, just as readily as by any other mode of mutual assent by
parol. What is, of course essential is that there should have been made manifest
the intention in any event of a complete extinction of the first and formal contract,
and not merely the desire of an alteration, however sweeping, in terms which still
leave it subsisting.”
 In light of the defence advanced by the Defendant, it is clear that in order to
succeed in his claim the Claimant must satisfy the Court on a balance of
probabilities that there was no agreement reached between the Parties following
the September 2010 meeting. In applying the balance of probability standard, the
Court is guided by the dicta of Baroness Hale in the House of Lords decision Re B
(Minors) 2008 EWCA Civ.282 and by Lord Nicholls in Re H (Minors) (Sexual
Abuse: standard of proof)20.
“The balance of probability standard means that a court is satisfied an event
occurred if the court considers that, on the evidence, the occurrence of the event
was more likely than not. When assessing the probabilities, the court will have in
mind as a factor, to whatever extent is appropriate in the particular case, that the
more serious the allegation the less likely it is that the event occurred and,
hence, the stronger should be the evidence before the court concludes that the
allegation is established on the balance of probability. Fraud is usually less likely
than negligence. Deliberate physical injury is usually less likely than accidental
physical injury. …Built into the preponderance of probability standard is a
generous degree of flexibility in respect of the seriousness of the allegation.
Although the result is much the same, this does not mean that where a serious
allegation is in issue the standard of proof required is higher. It means only that
the inherent probability or improbability of an event is itself a matter to be taken
into account when weighing the probabilities and deciding whether, on balance,
the event occurred. The more improbable the event, the stronger must be the
evidence that it did occur before, on the balance of probability, its occurrence will
20 1996 AC 563 at 586 D-H
 Having reviewed the witness statements of all the witnesses and after listening to
their oral testimony and observing their demeanour in Court, the Court is satisfied
on a balance of probabilities that the Parties did at the close of the meeting arrive
at an agreement, the terms of which would have abrogated the Agreement at the
completion of the second phase of the project. The Court has no doubt that the
Defendant would have been a trying client for the Claimant and that mutual
hostility and exasperation would have driven their agreement to bring an end to
 The Court finds that the contents of the letter dated 1st October, 2010 to be
unambiguous. The letter points to an earlier agreement reached during the
meeting of September 2010 to mutually abrogate the Agreement. The Court found
that both Mr and Mrs Bramble’s evidence in this regard to be implausible and
unreliable. The prevaricating evidence of Mr Bramble convinced the Court that he
was not candid or truthful about his awareness of the letter and its contents.
Further, it did not escape the Court’s notice that Mr Henry, an acknowledged
participant at the meeting could give no decisive evidence consistent with that of
 Further, given the letters clear intimation that “We did indicate to you at said
meeting that you will be receiving a letter from the company on the decision made
then. We are hereby informing you that contrary to our conversation, we will
continue to construct said dwelling in accordance with contract signed.”,
the Court was not persuaded by the improbable construal advanced by Mr
Bramble or his witnesses. This view was further reinforced by the letter dated 1st
October 2010, from the Claimant’s agent June Bramble to the Manager of the
National Bank of the Virgin Islands in which she stated that “ The concerns raised
by Ms Burns in relation to us turning over the project to her at the end of Phase II
is very disconcerting. I did indicate that we would do such, however on further
consultation we have decided not to accede to her wishes as we are still
bound by the contract of 31st May 2010 …” (Emphasis mine)
 Conversely, having had an opportunity to observe the demeanour of the
Defendant, the Court is satisfied that she was sufficiently truthful in her responses.
The Court was also persuaded that Mr De Castro was also a credible witness.
While there may well be legitimate concerns with how he chose to conduct the
purported mediation, this would not in the Court’s view affect his credibility. His
evidence as to the state of agreement at the time when he left the meeting is
consistent with that of the Claimant and the Court has no doubt that is accurate.
 In the premises and applying equitable principles, the Claimant cannot recant on
his previous agreement and purport to enforce the original obligations under the
Contract.21 The Court therefore concludes that the Contract was mutually
terminated by agreement of the Parties on 26th September 2010. It follows that the
Claimant cannot maintain that the Defendant wrongfully terminated and breached
the contract. His claims for loss and damage as a result of this breach including
unpaid monies for the third drawdown as well as loss of future monies for
deprivation of doing work stipulated in the contract cannot be maintained and are
Disposal of the Equipment and Materials
 In regard to the materials which the Claimant alleges were left on the property, the
Defendant’s evidence is that they would have been purchased through previous
disbursements under the loan facility secured to finance the project. This evidence
was untraversed by the Claimant during the course of these proceedings. On a
balance of probabilities, the Court therefore accepts the Defendant’s evidence and
will dismiss the Claimant’s claim in relation to the unused materials.
21 Birmingham and District Land Co v London and North Western Rly Co (1888) 40 Ch. 268; Charles
Rickards Ltd v Oppenheim  1 KB 616
 In so far as the equipment is concerned, the position is not as simple. It is clear
from the evidence that in contemplation of the project, the Claimant brought
several pieces of equipment onto the Property. This general fact is not disputed by
the Defendant although the parties are not completely ad idem on the detail of
inventory. It is also clear that in the wake of the meeting of 26th September 2010,
and after completion of the second phase of the project and the determination of
the contract, the equipment remained on the property.
 The Defendant argued that she considered that the property had been abandoned
one month after the construction had ceased or between November – December
2010. Unfortunately, the Defendant’s Counsel provided no legal authority
expounding upon or justifying that conclusion or the subsequent actions taken by
his client. This was indeed unfortunate given the potential legal exposure which
 What is clear is that in the circumstances which were described, the common law
dictates that an involuntary bailment22 would have been created. Although
involuntary bailees do not voluntarily consent to holding, they still owe a duty of
care to the owner of property. It is clear that a breach of the standard may result in
liability under the tort of conversion.
 The law on abandonment and the rights and duties of involuntary bailees are a
matter of common law and the Court found that the learning on Palmer on
Bailment to be particularly useful. At paragraph 26 0121 of that text,
“abandonment” is analysed as follows:
“The notion of abandonment may apply in two different senses to objects found
by a non-owner: one colloquial and one juristic. In the first sense, a loser may
abandon the search for a lost object, whether by reason of other claims on his
22 An involuntary bailment arises where a person, without their consent, finds themselves in possession
of goods belonging to another party (for instance, where an owner of goods sends these goods to
another party who does not request that these goods are sent).
time, or a belief that the place where the object has been lost is one where
others are likely to find it and return it. The loser in that position does not resign
any proprietary or possessory claims to the chattel, and when the chattel is found
the ordinary rules apply: the law recognises the paramount claim of the owner
and, subject to that, normally awards the goods to the person first in possession.
The second and more important is that of a divesting abandonment, where the
finder comes upon a chattel that the owner has previously left or cast away with
the intention of divesting himself not only of possession but also of ownership.”
 Clearly, the Defendant’s case must fall within the second category. The learned
authors then go on to state:
“Despite some surviving doubt, the better opinion appears to be that divesting
abandonment is a defence to conversion provided that a party entitled to do so
has renounced possession and the immediate right to possession of the chattels
in question. Clear evidence both of intention to abandon and of some physical
act of relinquishment will be required and, given the element of strict liability in
conversion as contrasted with the need for mens rea in crime, it would seem that
a mere reasonable belief that abandonment had taken place would not suffice as
 The Court must therefore consider whether there has been both an intention to
abandon and some physical act of relinquishment demonstrated on the part of the
Claimant. In so considering, the Court must take into account the whole of the
circumstances of the case. In the case at bar, the Court has considered the
circumstances under which the equipment came on to the Defendant’s property;
as well as the devolving relationship between the Parties and the correspondence
from the Claimant’s agent indicating that he considered the Agreement to be in
force and legally binding and expressing his intention to complete the project. The
Court has also considered the value of the items.
 Bearing in mind that the ownership or right to possession of the equipment was
never in doubt, the burden of proving abandonment as a defence to a claim in
conversion is on the Defendant and having considered all of the evidence, the
Court concludes she has not discharged the burden of proving on a balance of
probabilities that the Claimant abandoned whatever equipment remained on the
 Having considered the totality of the circumstances of this case, the Court has
some difficulty in discerning how the Defendant could reasonably have come to
the conclusion that the Claimant intended to abandon the equipment. In the
Court’s view, the context would have made it clear to the Defendant that the
Claimant’s lack of response stemmed from his legal position which would have
been communicated to her23. The equipment remained uncollected no doubt to
leverage that position and the Defendant would have been well aware of this.
 Having become an involuntary bailee24, the Defendant should have sought advice
as to her duty of care in the circumstances and/or how her obligations could be
lawfully determined. Her advisors would no doubt have indicated to her that
although at common law, the duty arising is much lower than in either bailment for
reward or gratuitous bailment, there is a duty to abstain from wilful or reckless
damage.25 In this case, the Defendant would have been obliged to take proper
care of the bailed property and surrender to the Claimant or dispose of the
property in accordance with his instructions. They would have also advised her
that the prohibition against the sale or disposal of the goods maintains as in the
case of bailment for reward.
 No doubt, the Defendant’s attorneys would have also advised her that the scope of
the duty of the involuntary bailee to abstain from wilfully damaging the goods
varies widely according to the circumstances of the bailment. There is some
23 Letter from JS Archibald and Co to the Defendant dated 23rd November 2010.
24 Palmer, Bailment (1991), p.677 defines it as “… a person whose possession of a chattel, although known
to him and the result of circumstances of which he is aware, occurs through events over which he has no
proper control and to which he has given no effective prior consent.” Also, at p.436:“A possessor who has not
… consented, but is nevertheless actually or constructively aware of the presence in his possession of goods
belonging to another, will fall to be treated as an involuntary bailee.”
25 Elvin & Powell ltd v Plummer Roddis Ltd (1933) 50 TLR 158
authority for the proposition that there can be no legitimate complaint against a
bailee who acts in a manner which is considered “reasonable and proper” in all the
circumstances 26 including the destruction of the goods if they have become a
nuisance. Similarly, a bailee who acts with the object of either returning the goods
or mitigating responsibility for them (whether by delivering them to the police)
would also incur no liability to their owner. Unfortunately, neither of these
circumstances arises here.
 Unlike other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, the remedies available to a
involuntary bailee for uncollected goods remain ill-defined and without statutory
foundation. In the United Kingdom, the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act
1977 gives the bailees a statutory power of sale in relation to bailor’s goods
provided the bailee gives the bailor notice in a prescribed form to collect the goods
within a reasonable period of time. If the bailor does not collect, or give directions
for delivery, then the bailee is entitled to sell the goods and must account to the
owner for the sale of the proceeds after deducting the associated costs and sale
expenses. From the evidence, it appears that the Defendant attempted to
somewhat follow this framework. Unfortunately, this UK statute has no application
in this Territory and cannot avail the Defendant.
 To summarise therefore, while it can be said that the law of bailment will apply
when people are in possession of goods that remain uncollected, the remedies
available to such a bailee are limited. Generally, at common law they do not
extend to the sale or disposal of the goods. There are however, two narrow
exceptions: (1) the principle of agency of necessity excuses the bailee from liability
when there is an actual commercial necessity to dispose of the goods. The
principle also applies where goods are deteriorating or otherwise losing value, but
only if the loss is serious enough to constitute an emergency; (2) it has also been
26 Hiort v Bott (1874) LR Ex 86 at 91 per Cleasby B
suggested that a bailor who has abandoned all title and interest in the goods may
permit the bailee to dispose of the goods at will.
 The Defendant has only advanced the latter exception as a defence to the Claim,
and for the reasons which have already been set out, the Court is of the view that
this cannot be maintained. Having considered the nature and value of the goods,
the circumstances in which they have been deposited, the facilities at the
Defendant’s disposal, the readiness with which the goods could have been
returned to the Claimant and the conduct of the Parties, in the Court’s view the
equipment could only be classified as merely “uncollected” rather than
“abandoned” as that term is legally defined.
 In the premises and having advanced no other viable legal basis for her actions,
the Court finds that the Defendant breached her common law obligations and
converted the equipment by disposing of the same either in the setoff transaction
with Mr Garraway or otherwise27. The Defendant is entitled to recover provable
loss and damage.
 According the learned authors of Mac Gregor on Damages the normal measure
of damages for conversion is the market value of the goods converted.28 In this
case, the burden of proof lay with the Claimant to prove the value of the goods as
at the date of conversion. In discharging this burden, the Claimant put before a
court a list of material and equipment left at the property along with manuscript
notations of their value. The evidence of Mr Henry discloses that he provided
these figures and he acknowledged that they reflected the replacement cost of
each item. In the Court’s view there is no basis to deviate from the normal
measure of damages in this case. The Claimant having failed to establish the
27 Anderson and Anderson v Earlanger  C.L.Y. 133
28 Hall v Barclay  3 All. E.R 620
value of the goods as at the date of conversion, the Court can only award a
nominal sum of o $4500.00.29
 The Further Amended Statement of Claim also sets out claim for loss of use.
However, other than the bare allegation, the Claimant advanced no cogent proof in
support of this claim. Indeed this claim as pursued with a decided lack of
enthusiasm and the Court is not satisfied on a balance of probabilities that there
was any loss incurred by reason of contracts made with third parties or any
expenditure incurred in hiring substitute equipment or otherwise. In the premises,
the Court therefore denies this aspect of the Claim.
 It is therefore ordered as follows:
i. Judgment is entered for the Claimant in the sum of $4500.00.
ii. Interest on that said sum.
iii. All other claims for relief are dismissed.
iv. The Defendant shall pay the Claimant’s costs in the sum of $1500.00.
Vicki Ann Ellis
High Court Judge
29 Da Rocha-Afodu & Anr v Mortgage Express Ltd & Anr  EWCA Civ 454