THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION BY SAMUEL GEORGE GILKES FOR A
DECLARATION OF POSSESSORY TITLE TO LAND
APPLICATION FOR DECLARATION OF POSSESSORY TITLE
Before: The Hon. Mde. Justice Esco L. Henry High Court Judge
Appearances: Mr. Jadric Cummings of counsel for the applicant.
2020: Sept. 28
 Henry, J.: Mr. Samuel George Gilkes has applied for a
declaration to possessory title of land situated at Sion Hill in the Parish
of Saint George in the State of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. His
application is supported by affidavit testimony provide by him and his
witnesses Timothy Creese, Glenford Ralph and Paula Harry. It is unopposed.
If his application is to be successful, the court must be satisfied that it
satisfies the statutory and evidentiary requirements. His application is
dismissed for the reasons outlined in this judgment.
 The issue is whether Samuel George Gilkes is entitled to the grant of a
declaration of possessory title
of the subject land.
Issue – Is Samuel George Gilkes
entitled to a declaration of possessory title of the subject land?
 The Possessory Titles Act (“the Act”)
provides the legal framework under which a declaration of possessory title
is considered and determined. It defines the expression ‘adverse
‘factual possession of an exclusive and undisturbed nature of a piece
or parcel of land
in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for acontinuous period of twelve years or more accompanied by the requisite intention to possess the said land as owner thereof.’
. (Underlining added)
 It is now established that adverse possession is made out by an
applicant who proves that he has
enjoyed exclusive and undisturbed factual possession of the subject land
accompanied by the requisite intention to possess it as owner. As
articulated by Slade J. in Powell v McFarlane and Another:
‘If the law is to attribute possession of land to a person who can
establish no paper title to possession, he must be shown to have both
factual possession and the requisite intention to possess (“animus
Factual possession signifies an appropriate degree of physical control
. It must be a single and conclusive possession, … The
question what acts constitute a sufficient degree of exclusive physical
control must depend on the circumstances, in particular the nature of the
land and the manner in which land of that
nature is commonly used or enjoyed…’.
Essential Components of Adverse Possession
- factual possession that is exclusive and continuous, evidenced by
for at least 12 years; and
with the requisite intention.
In determining whether Mr. Gilkes has established his claim, I propose to
examine the evidence against each of these elements. For efficiency and
effectiveness, I will deal with the first and second limbs together.
Acts of factual possession and date
 The subject land comprises 1,752 sq. ft.
and is valued at $EC17,520.00. Mr. Gilkes exhibited a survey plan and
valuation to such effect. On the matter of factual possession, he and his
witnesses averred that he had been in exclusive possession of the subject
land for over 40 years. He rehearsed that his first cousin Conrad Gilkes
was in possession of the subject land for some time until his death
in or about 1977. Mr. Gilkes did not indicate for how long his cousin
occupied the land. He stated that he took possession of the land in or
about 1977 and continues to do so until present. His use of the term ‘in
possession’ was not qualified by the types of acts he undertook which
amount to possession.
 He averred that he lived on the land for a number of years in a wooden
structure and subsequently moved to the adjoining lot on the western
boundary where he currently resides. He provided no testimony of the period
he lived there. Neither did his witnesses. He claimed that he has
maintained the subject land as his own and has trimmed it once or twice a
month. He nor his witnesses stated when he started trimming it or over what
period he has done so. He asserted that he has paid the land taxes in the
name on the tax roll. He exhibited receipts for payment of taxes in the
name of Conrad B Gilkes. They reflect payment of the taxes in arrears for
1998 – 2001
, 20028, 20038,
 Mr. Gilkes filed his affidavit on January 9th 2019. He
averred that 3 years before then he erected a small wall on the northern
boundary pf the subject land to prevent land slippage. In a supplementary
affidavit filed on 16th July 2020 he asserted that he has since
erected concrete walls on all remaining boundaries and cleared the subject
land of grass and bush as he anticipates construction. The court notes that
the timelines of the referenced construction do not satisfy the statutory
12 year period to qualify as adverse possession. He added that he has
enjoyed peaceful, undisturbed and exclusive possession of the land for over
 The only acts of factual possession on which he relies are trimming the
land and living there for a period of time. The absence of timelines
regarding those acts undermines Mr. Gilkes’ case. The court notes that the
receipts for the payment of taxes contain no indicia which link the
property mentioned in them to the subject land. Apart from his say so,
there is no evidence from which the court can make a link between them.
Moreover, payment of taxes is not by itself probative of exercise of
physical control over the subject land. Furthermore, the receipts reveal
that the payments were made in 2002, 2009 and 2012, indicative of only a
sporadic connection with the land referenced in them.
 Mr. Timothy Creese and Mr. Glenford Ralph supplied accounts similar to
Mr. Gilkes’. They asserted that they have known him for many years. They
averred that they are aware that he has been in possession of the subject
land for over 40 years. They testified that he lived on the land for many
years before moving on to the adjoining land where he resides at present.
They stated that Mr. Gilkes keeps the land clear. They provided no details
about when he started cleaning it and for how long this has continued.
 They averred that the entire community ‘knows’ that the subject land
belongs to Mr. Gilkes. This is not a statement on which this court can act
as it proves nothing other than their belief of that assertion. Mr. Ralph
added that no one else uses the subject land. He attested further that Mr.
Gilkes built a little wall two or three years before (January 2019) to
prevent land slippage.
 Mr. Gilkes has provided no coherent testimony of the period during
which he exercised acts of ownership over the subject land. Payment of
taxes in arrears in 2009 for 6 previous years and again in 2012 for 6 years
do not qualify as acts of possession. Neither does trimming the land for
unspecified periods satisfy this requirement. He has therefore failed to
prove on a balance of probabilities that he has enjoyed factual possession
of the land for a continuous period of at least 12 years.
 Messrs. Gilkes, Creese and Ralph use the expression ‘took possession’
loosely without supplying the relevant details to establish that legal
finding. It is for the court to determine whether possession is proven; not
by merely accepting a bald statement, but by specific evidence of the
factual acts undertaken by an applicant by which he seeks to establish that
he exercised physical ownership over the land. Mr. Gilkes’ testimony and
that of his witnesses fall woefully short of the standard. I find that Mr.
Gilkes evinced the intention to own the subject land at some point. The
evidence fails to show on a balance of probabilities that such intention
was matched by concurrent acts of factual possession by him or anyone
acting on his behalf. I find that it does not.
 Mr. Gilkes’ application was made in the prescribed form and supplied
most of the details specified in it.
He did not include the name of the registered owner of the subject land. He
produced a certified copy of the survey plan on which the application is
Mr. Gilkes exhibited an appraisal and valuation report9 which ascribed a
value of $17,520.00 to the land.
 He provided copies of the stipulated newspaper publications;
and copies notices of compliance that
the Act mandates must be posted respectively at the Registrar’s Office and
the Magistrate’s Court in the relevant district.
He provided proof that adjoining landowners were served
with notices of his application, by High Court Bailiff Rodwell Alexander.
Mr. Alexander provided a sworn affidavit to this effect. He averred further
that he posted a copy of the notice on an electricity pole at the entrance
of the subject land.
 I am satisfied that Mr. Gilkes has fulfilled the formal procedural
requirements outlined in the Act. However, in view of my earlier finding
that he has not established the requisite acts of factual possession, he
has not satisfactorily proven that he has for a continuous period in excess
of twelve years, enjoyed factual possession of the subject parcel of land
with the intention to possess it. His application must be dismissed.
 It therefore ordered:
1. Samuel George Gilkes
‘ application for a declaration of possessory title of the subject land at
Sion Hill, in the Parish of St. George, in the State of Saint Vincent and
the Grenadines, delineated in survey plan G3218 is dismissed.
- No order as to costs.
Esco L. Henry
HIGH COURT JUDGE
By the Court
Cap. 328 of the Revised Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Section 2 of the Act.
(1977) 38 P & CR 452 Ch D at 470 – 471; J A Pye (oxford Ltd
& Ors v Graham and Another  UKHL 30.
See survey plan G3218.
Receipt #39290 dated 29th April 2002.
Receipts #9837, #9838, #9839, #9840, #9841 and #9843 respectively
dated 3rd November 2009.
Receipts #10139 and #10138, respectively dated 28th
Date of payment illegible.
In accordance with section 4 of the Act.
Pursuant to section 6 (1) of the Act.
In accordance with section 7 of the Act. The notices were published
on 25th January, 2019, 1st and 22 nd February, 2019, and 1st March 2019
respectively in the Searchlight and the News newspapers.
In accordance with section 7 of the Act.
Pursuant to section 8 of the Act.