Idabelle Meade v Wilford Meade
IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
COLONY OF MONTSERRAT
CLAIM NO. MNIHCV2012/0022
MARY IDABELLE MEADE
WILFORD ST. CLAIR MEADE
Ms Marcelle Watts for the Claimant
Mr. Kenneth Allen QC for the Defendant
2014: January 16
2014: January 30
 REDHEAD J. (ag): The parties were married on 23rd November 1981. There are
four (4) children of the marriage. After marriage the Claimant and the Defendant
lived together in the matrimonial home at Kinsale.
 In or about the year 1983 the Claimant and Defendant established a restaurant
business and a Guest House.
 In or about 1995 the Claimant and the Defendant were forced to give up their
matrimonial home at Kinsale and to relocate their business because of the on slaught
of the Soufriere Hills Volcano. This rendered Kinsale an unsafe zone in which to
reside or carryon any business activity.
 After the parties left Kinsale in or about 1995, they began to construct a dwelling
house at Davy Hill. The house was completed in or about 2010 and was valued in
December 2012 for EC$413,577.11 by Mr. William Thomas BSc Eng, MRCS, LLS.
The conveyance for this house is in the joint names of the parties.
 On 30th June 2009 the Crown transferred a lot ofland at Little Bay to the Defendant.
The transfer is in the sole name ofthe Defendant.
 On 3’d June 2009 a dual decree of divorce was granted to both parties.
 On 3,d May 2012, the Claimant filed Fixed Ji)ate Claim form in which she claims
a) A declaration that the Claimant is entitled to one half interest or in such
proportion as the Honourable Court deems just in the property located on
Davy Hill Block 14/9/20 registered in the Register at the Land Registry.
b) A declaration that the Defendant holds the property located at St. John’s
Block 1411115 registered in the Register at the Land Registry on trust for the
Claimant and the Defendant in equal shares, or in such proportion as the
Honourable Court deems just
c) An Order that the said properties be valued and sold and that the net proceeds
be divided equally between the parties or in the proportion deemed just by
the Court and that the cost of the valuation be borne equally by the parties.
d) That the Defendant has the first option to purchase the property at St. John’s
Block 14/1/15 after same has been valued within ninety (90) days of the date
of the said valuation failing which the Claimant has the option to purchase
the Defendant’s share within sixty (60) days of Defendant’s failure to
exercise his option. In the event that both the Defendant and the Claimant fail
to purchase the property then the said property be sold in the open market or
at a public auction.
e) An injunction restraining the Defendant whether by himself or his servants
and 1 or agents from disposing of the property situated at Block 14/1/15 and
registered at the Land Registry.
f) Such further and other relief as this Honourable Court deems fit.
g) Such costs as are incidental to the proceedings.
 The Claimant on May 03 , 2012 has filed an affidavit in support of her fixed date
claim. The Claimant now resides in Roseau Dominica.
 In her affidavit she swore that in about 1983 that she and the Defendant established a
restaurant and guest house and although she was employed full time at the Royal
Bank of Canada, she handled all the administrative functions of the business. She
also worked in the restaurant on a daily basis providing services and preparing meals
to ensure the efficient operations of the business. She swore that from 1985 to 2005
that she operated full time in the business and even while overseas was responsible
to ensure that the business functioned smoothly. According to the Claimant the
business was relocated to Little Bay and the Claimant and the Defendant resided in
an apartment on the premises.
 The Claimant swore that in 2000 she and the Defendant negotiated for the
purchase of 0.23 acres of land at Davy Hill. That land is registered as Block 14/9/20
in the names of the Claimant and the Defendant as joint proprietors.
[II] The Claimant deposed that she secured a loan from the St. Patrick’s Co-operative
Credit Union in the amount of EC$25,000.00 being the purchase money for the land.
The loan agreement is exhibited. This shows that the loan was made to the Claimant
on the 9th day of May 2000 and was required to make monthly payments of
EC$438.33 from 27th May 2000 for a period of 72 months.
 The Claimant swore that since she secured the loan at her own expense solely and
without any contribution from the Defendant to service the loan. Mrs. Meade also
claimed that the Defendant never contributed any money in part or at all to the
purchase of the land at Davy Hill.
 The Claimant also exhibited documents showing payments made by her towards
the loan; showing payments from 2002 onwards. I have seen none for 2000 or 2001
among the exhibits.
 The Claimant deposed that in October 2001 and February 2003 she obtained a
loan from Bank of Montserrat in the amount of EC$39,000.00 and EC$64,000.00
 The Claimant swore that she serviced these loans over the past 10 years solely
with proceeds from her salary and savings and without any contribution from the
Defendants whether in part or at all.
 The Defendant in his affidavit evidence deposed that he owned a restaurant prior
to his marriage. He said that he opened a guest house and mini-mart and allowed the
Claimant to manage them in so far as she was able to do so after her work at the
 The Defendant swore that he also had four (4) tenanted premises from which the
income was EC$2,000.00 per month. This money along with monies from the guest
house, restaurant and bar were collected by the Claimant.
 The Defendant said that he never opened a Bank account in his name during the
marriage, nor did he ever ask the Claimant to see the bank book into which monies
from which the several businesses were deposited.
 Mr. Meade swore that when he thought that they were doing well; on one
occasion he asked the Claimant how much money they had at the bank. She replied
“none”. The Claimant ran away to New York the following day. The Claimant then
called him, begging him to come to New York so that she can explain what
happened to the money. Up to this day he said the Claimant has not explained.
 The Defendant in his affidavit evidence deposed that after the family was
displaced from their matrimonial home by the volcanic activities they lived at
diverse inconvenient .places at the mercy of friends and family. He continued to
prepare and sell food at the back of a pick-up truck which he parked at Little Bay on
 Mr. Meade said that he later built a small chattel house at St. Peter’s and moved it
unto Crown land at Little Bay where his pick-up truck was packed. This became the
first bar and restaurant at Little Bay.
 While the Claimant swore an oath that in so far as to the purchase of the land at
Davy Hill she borrowed EC$25,000.00 from St. Patrick’s Co-operative Credit Union
solely and serviced the loan without an)! contribution from the Defendant; the
Defendant on the other hand swore that it is not true that the Claimant had anything
to do with the purchase of the 0.23 acres of land at Davy Hill. The Defendant said
that he purchased the parcel of land, paid instalments over a long period of time
without the knowledge of, or contribution from the Claimant.
 In light of the exhibit referred to above, which shows that on 9th May 2000 that
the sum ofEC$25,000.00 was advanced to the Claimant in respect of the purchase of
Block 14/9 parcel Davy Hill with monthly payment of EC$438.33; I cannot accept
that the purchase of that parcel was without the knowledge of the Claimant. I cannot
accept either the Claimant’s version that the purchase was solely on her own and
without any contributions from the Defendant. To accept this, in my view, is to lose
sight of the fact that the parties operated a business jointly; that there were monies
coming from rented accommodation, all of which were collected by the Claimant;
that I will accept.
 Moreover I draw the unmistakable conclusion that the defendant managed the
business, the Claimant having full time employment; there is no evidence that he got
a salary for so doing. He must therefore have contributed significantly to whatever
profits were realized from the operation of the business.
 I now turn to the construction of the dwelling house on Block 14/9 Parcel 20. The
Claimant swore in her affidavit that in October 2001 , she borrowed EC$39,000.00
and in February 2003 she again borrowed EC$64,000.00 from the Bank of
Montserrat. That over the past ten (10) years she solely serviced the loan from her
salary and savings without any contribution from the Defendant.
 Again, as I have said above, I cannot accept that the Claimant serviced the loan
solely without any contributions from the Defendant having regard to the fact that
they operated business jointly and monies were collected by the Claimant for the
 The Defendant on oath said that he never heard anything about the Claimant
taking a loan from the St. Patrick’s Co-operative Credit Union until the papers in this
claim were served on him. He contends that the Claimant borrowed the monies for
her own use and without his knowledge. I note that the loans of EC$39,000.00 and
EC$64,000.00 do not say for what they were, i.e. they were silent as to the purposes
they were advanced.
 The Defendant in his affidavit swore that in order to build a house on the land in
Davy Hill, he gave whatever money he was able to muster from time to time to the
Captain of “Abiding Love”, a boat which traded between Trinidad and Montserrat to
purchase concrete blocks which he stored at Little Bay until there were sufficient
blocks to start a house. He purchased a house plan from government and began to
build with the guidance of a contractor friend named Al Duberry.
 Mr. Meade on oath said that while the construction of the house was in progress,
he and the Claimant applied for a government grant under the Self Build Housing
Grant Programme; when the grant was received, the house was substantially
completed and some of the suppliers who were contracted by the Land Development
Authority to supply materials had to refund monies which the Claimant kept for
 The Claimant when asked how much Grant money she received, she told him
EC$30,000.00. However when they separated, the Defendant said that he found a
letter which confirmed that he had received EC$41,390.00. This letter is exhibited.
 Notwithstanding, the conflicting evidence in relation to the acquisition of the
house on Davy Hill and my analysis above I am not called upon to make a
determination as to the share entitlement of the parties because there is no issue so
far as this property is concerned.
 The conveyance was taken in the joint names of the parties. The Claimant is
seeking a declaration that she is entitled to one half interest in the property at Davy
Hill Block 14/9 Parcel 20.
 The Defendant has conceded that the Claimant is entitled to one half interest in
the matrimonial home in Davy Hill. Indeed equity is equalit/. I am therefore spared
the arduous task of climbing the foggy peeks of the Soufriere Hills. He has also said
that the Claimant is entitled to half interest in the Chattel House at Little Bay,
although in my view the Claimant made no claim for an interest in the Chattel house
at Little Bay.
 In my opinion the issue and the real disagreement of the parties revolves around
the land at Little Bay Block 1411 ParcellS, the conveyance of which was taken in
the sole name of the Defendant. I now turn my attention to this issue.
 The Claimant successfully contested the general elections in Montserrat in 2001
and was sworn in as Minister of Government. Mrs. Meade swore that in about the
year 2002 through her Ministerial colleagues she was awarded a parcel of land at
Little Bay through a lease purchase agreement to the Defendant to operate the
1 See Fibrance v Fibrance [195)1 AER 357
And White v White [2007) lAC. 596
 As I have said above the conveyance was in the sole name of the Defendant. The
Claimant explained that because of her position in Goverrunent it was decided to
register the property in the Defendant’s sole name.
 In cross examination, she said that in order to be part of it, the buying of the land
she had to excuse herself from the discussion. As I understand it when the
Claimant’s Ministerial Colleagues were discussing the allotment of land, she
excused herself from being part of the discussion. I understand that, but this does not
explain why the Claimant is not included in the conveyance document.
 Learned Queen’s Counsel Mr. Allen contends in his written submission that in
contemplation of a modem development, the Crown repossessed the lands on which
the Defendant and Claimant had squatted for several years; the parties were already
divorced when this happened.
 The Claimant admits that she left no money with the Defendant in any account
from which he could have purchased lands. After the lands were repossessed, the
Defendant alone was squatting; the Government designed a road through the land
and offered for sale small parcels of land to the Defendant and other persons who
were affected by the repossession.
The letter says:
“Ministry of Agriculture, Lands Housing and Environment
P. O. Box 272
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This is to confirm that our records indicate that Mr. Wilford Meade was
offered Block 14/1/15 at a Sale price of EC$22,032.00.
Payments were in 2004 – EC$750.00, 2007 – EC$20,400.00, final payment 2009
Please be guided accordingly.
Camille V.C. Thomas-Gerald (Mrs.)
 Mr. Meade said in cross-examination that he gave his son in 2003 the sum of
EC$750.00 to make the deposit. The balance was paid in 2007 and 2009. The
document referred to above bears out these facts.
 The Claimant filed her divorce in 2006. In my considered opinion it would be
highly unlikely that a year later she would be advancing money or would be making
any contribution towards the acquisition of a property with Mr. Meade.
 Learned Counsel Ms Watts in her written submission argued that although the
title in the Little Bay property is registered in the sole name of the Defendant, the
Court should take into account the following:
a) The joint efforts of the parties in running the business from 1995 – 2006.
b) The EC$750.00 paid in respect of the lease purchase agreement in 2003
while the marriage was still subsisting,
c) Evidence from the Claimant of payment of utilities and other bills associated
with the business up until 201 O.
d) The Defendant’s assertions that he provided goods to the Claimant while she
was operating a restaurant at the Tropical Mansions Suites in 2009.
e) Payment of EC$20,400.00 in 2007 towards the purchase price.
 In my opinion, (d) and (e) above cannot be in favour of the Claimant. As I have
said the payment of EC$20,400.00 was in 2007, one year after the decree of divorce
was filed, could not have anything to do with the Claimant as it is highly unlikely
that she would be advancing money toward the purchase of a property after she had
filed a divorce petition.
 When property is taken in the sole name of party to the marriage, in order that the
other could claim a proprietary interest in the property, that party must show that
they make a direct or indirect contribution towards the acquisition of the property.
Cupid v Thomas2
; Gissing v Gissing3
2 (1985) 36 W.I.R 182
3 (1971) AC. 886
 In this case I cannot find any such contribution made by the Claimant towards the
acquisition of the Little Bay property.
 In 200 I she became a Minister of Government, I do not accept that from then on
she played any significant part in the running of the business. I also accept as Mr.
Allen QC puts it “the parties have not been in a relationship formal or informal since
he was shocked into melancholy by the service of divorce petition on him in
 I also accept the evidence of the Defendant that in 2007 he was given a
government contract to build a stretch of road around the area of land which he
occupied at Little Bay. With his earnings he was able to pay EC$20,400.00 in 2007.
 The Defendant in his affidavit swore that he back filled the area making it
reasonably safe from further erosion. He says that it is his belief that is why the plot
was offered to him to purchase for the sum ofEC$22,000.00.
 I accept the Defendant’s evidence that when the Claimant filed the divorce he was
left penniless. He said that he gave the Claimant every cent that he earned to save in
a joint account. He gave the Claimant monies which he received from the Insurance
Company for Volcanic damages. He also sold a boat for EC$l1,OOO.OO which he
gave to the Claimant to open an account at the Antigua Commercial Bank. Profits
made from the business were added to the account.
 I find as a fact that the Claimant was the brain in the business with the Defendant.
I come to the umnistakable conclusion that she did not always deal with the
Defendant at ann’s length. This is borne out by the fact that in 2006 after she filed a
divorce petition, two weeks after she tried to obtain a loan for the sum of
EC$91 ,000.00 using the matrimonial property to secure the loan without the
knowledge and consent of the Defendant.
 I hereby declare that the matrimonial home at Davy Hill Block 14/1 Parcel 20 is
jointly owned by the Claimant and Defendant. Block 1411 Parcel 20 is to be sold by
public auction within three (3) months of today’s date. Sale to be organized by the
Registrar of the Supreme Court. The proceeds of sale to be applied as follows: The
debts incidental to the sale to be paid. Fifty percent (50%) of the balance to be paid
to the Claimant and the Defendant each. Sale to be postponed for six (6) months to
give either party an opportunity to purchase the fifty percent (50%) interest of the
 I hereby also declare that the property at Little Bay Block 1411 Parcel 15 is the
sole property ofthe Defendant
 No order as to costs.
High Court Judge