THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
TERRITORY OF ANGUILLA
CLAIM NO: AXA HMT 2005/0006
DONNA MERCEDES GUMBS
VICTOR MACMILLA GUMBS
Ms. Navine Fleming for the Petitioner
Mr. Collin R. Meade for the Respondent
2008: September 26;
2009: November 23.
 GEORGE-CREQUE, J.: The parties were married in August 1987. They have two
daughters, both of whom have attained the age of majority and are gainfully employed. A
decree nisi was granted in July 1999 and an application for ancillary relief made on 7
February 2007. At the time of the divorce, the respondent was 44 years and the petitioner,
39 years. They are both gainfully employed. The sole issue for determination is the
disposition of the matrimonial home, the respondent having conceded that he has an
obligation to pay the interest in arrears on the elder daughter’s student loan.
By virtue of an agreement between the parties2
 The petitioner is employed as Accounts Officer at the Social Security Board of Anguilla and
earns approximately EC$6609.00 less social security and pension deductions. The
petitioner also pays some $165 in medical insurance for the two children of the marriage
and two bank loans
totaling $726.00 monthly. The respondent is a Maintenance Officer at
Cap Jaluca Hotel and earns approximately US$8.22 per hour. The respondent works a 40
hour week and earns overtime for additional hours worked. Social security and insurance
deductions are made.
 The respondent is the registered owner of the land on which the matrimonial home is
situate. The land was transferred to him by his grandmother in or about 1990. He knew
that the land would be so transferred when he began construction of a house thereon in
1984. When construction began, the parties had been in a relationship for some four years
and had had their first daughter, who was then about 1 year old. The respondent contends
however that he never had discussions with the petitioner about building a house.
 No mortgage was taken and construction of the house continued over a number of years.
It is agreed that the respondent purchased materials for the house and undertook much of
the construction on evenings and weekends with the assistance of friends and family. The
respondent concedes that the petitioner’s cousins assisted with the construction of the
house but argues that their assistance was offered on his behalf and not that of the
petitioner, as was stated in her affidavit in response.
 The petitioner states that she assisted by cooking for all the persons who would work on
the house as per the custom in Anguilla. She states further that she would move blocks to
the various locations on site and would make her car available for water to be carried to
the site when the respondent did not have a truck at his disposal. The respondent denies
that the petitioner assisted in moving blocks and submits that she did some cooking during
construction of the second half of the house only and that her car was used on one
occasion to carry water.
A car loan and a student loan for the elder child of the marriage3
 After their marriage in 1987, the parties lived with the petitioner’s mother while construction
on the house continued. The petitioner contends, which is disputed, that during that time it
was agreed that the respondent would take care of the construction costs and the
petitioner, the bills.
 It is however agreed that the petitioner made the following contributions to the construction
of the house:
(i) a payment to National Trucking;
(ii) tiles for the dining room, living room and kitchen;
(iii) three doors;
(iv) concrete for small addition to the house; and
(v) a monetary contribution for the dining room, living room, kitchen and garage
 In 1988, the parties moved into the house, which was then still unfinished. Upon
completion of the house, the petitioner continued to pay the bills, with the exception of the
cable bill which was paid by the respondent.
 The petitioner contends further that over the years she has been solely responsible for the
upkeep and maintenance of the home and children of the family. She noted during crossexamination that she was responsible for replacing a bedroom set which was destroyed
during Hurricane Lennie.
 The petitioner contends that the marriage broke down irretrievably on account of the
respondent’s violent and ungoverned temper and states that the respondent physically
abused her on numerous occasions up to the 12
May 1999. The petitioner states that the
respondent effectively moved out of the house in 1995 to live with his mistress, but returns
to the matrimonial home to bathe and dress. The respondent denies being of a violent
temperament and of abusing the petitioner.
 The parties continued to occupy the matrimonial home after the issuance of the decree nisi
in 1999. Since about December 2006, the respondent has resided primarily at his
mother’s home, although his personal belongings remain at the matrimonial home. 4
 The petitioner claims:
“A determination and valuation of the parties’ right title and interest in the
matrimonial property….; that their respective interest therein be transferred to
each of them with the Petitioner having a life interest in the Respondent’s share or
in the alternative an order that the said house be sold and the Petitioner’s interest
therein be transferred to her.”
 By affidavit dated 14
March 2007, the respondent states that he would wish to buy out
the petitioner’s interest in the matrimonial home as he does not wish the property to be
sold having regard to the history of the ownership of the land and his contribution to
construction of the house.
 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, and indeed the
family as a whole.
 It is now well established that there should be no discrimination placed on the roles of
husband and wife.
In the circumstances of the case, there can be no doubt that both
parties have made substantial contributions to the matrimonial home. It is also clear to me
that it was the common intention of the parties that the matrimonial home would be for their
joint benefit. This is borne out by all the evidence, as summarized above. I so find
notwithstanding the fact that there has been no joint registration.
Chap. M60 of the Revised Statutes of Anguilla
See sections 53 and 54
See section 26(1)(f) of the MPPA
White v White as followed in Stonich v Stonich5
 The crucial matter for determination therefore is the apportionment of the assets, that is,
the matrimonial home. Saunders JA confirmed in Stonich v Stonich7
that the ultimate
and overriding objective that the court must strive at is fairness.
 The equality principle has been urged upon me in accordance with the learning eschewed
in White v White
, Miller v Miller and McFarlane v McFarlane
“…as a general guide, equality should only be departed from only if, and to the
extent that there is good reason for doing so.”
and similar cases. The
cases of White v White has settled the principle by which courts are to be guided in such
matters. The principle may be stated in this way: Whilst there is no legal presumption of
equal division a judge is required, before arriving at a final determination of what is far and
just in all the circumstances, to check his tentative views against the yardstick of equality.
And then, as Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead stated in his judgment therein:
 I take cognizance of the fact that the marriage lasted for some 12 years, that there is no
significant difference in the ages of the parties and that the parties have each made
substantial contributions to the matrimonial home and the welfare of the family within their
respective means. I am satisfied that the petitioner maintained the children of the family
and the household which gave the respondent the opportunity to provide the home. I note
however that, on the evidence available to me, the petitioner has greater earning capacity
than the respondent.
 On application of the MPPA and having regard to all the circumstances, I am satisfied that
it is fair and just to award the petitioner a 40% interest in the matrimonial home. I order
that the respondent buy out the petitioner’s interest upon a joint valuation being
undertaken. The petitioner is at liberty to remain in occupation of the matrimonial home
until such payment has been made.
BVI Civil Appeal No. 17 of 2002
 1 AC 596 applied by Pemberton J in Victory v Victory Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Suit No. 316 of 2000
 UKHL 24,  2 AC 618
In accordance with the court’s power under section 52 of the MPPA6
 It is further ordered that each party bear his/her own costs.
High Court Judge