THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE POSSESSORY TITLE ACT 2004
IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION FOR DECLARATION OF POSSESSORY TITLE TO
LAND BY SARAN CHRISTOPHER
Before: The Hon. Mde. Justice Esco L. Henry High Court Judge
Appearances: Mr. Sylvester Raymond Cadette of counsel for the applicant.
2020: Sept. 28
been in exclusive and undisturbed possession of the subject land situated
at Edinborough in the Parish of Saint George, since 1995. Her witnesses
Diarra Christopher and Sylma Haywood support her claim.
 No one opposes Ms. Christopher’s claim. The evidence must be evaluated
to determine whether it establishes Ms. Christopher’s claim that she has
been in adverse possession of the land. I have found that it does not.
 The issue is whether Saran Christopher is entitled to the grant of a
declaration of possessory title of the subject land.
Issue – Is Saran Christopher
entitled to a declaration of possessory title of the subject land?
 The Possessory Titles Act (the Act)
outlines the procedure to be followed by applicants who seek a declaration
of possessory title to land. It defines ‘adverse possession as:
‘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)
 In the UK case of Powell v McFarlane and Another Slade
J. explained that adverse possession is
characterized by (a) physical control of a sufficient degree; and (b) an
intention to own the land. He stated:
‘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
 Based on the foregoing, Ms. Christopher’s application will succeed if
she establishes that she has exercised exclusive and continuous factual
possession over the subject land, for at least 12 years and that during
that period she intended to own it. She and her witnesses provided
affidavit testimony. She stated that the land was previously in the
possession of a number of her relatives and is adequately described in
registration title No. 3110/1997. She testified
that she went into possession of the land in 1995 immediately after the
death of her late relative Mildred Burke.
 Ms. Christopher exhibited a photocopy of a Statutory Declaration No.
3110/1997, signed Mildred Burke. In it, Ms. Burke rehearsed that she had
been in possession of a parcel of land at Edinboro for the past 25 years.
The land is described in the Schedule as follows:
‘All that lot piece or parcel of land situate at Edinboro … being
butted and bounded on the North where it admeasures fifty four (54) feet by
the Fort Road on the South where it admeasures eighty (80) feet by lands in
the possession of Sonny Davis on the East where it admeasures one hundred
and four (104) feet by lands in the possession of Clifford Providence and
on the West where it admeasures one hundred and sixteen (116) feet by lands
in the possession of on St. Hillaire …’.
 Ms. Burke declared further that the premises previously belonged to her
grandmother Amelia Hamilton who gave it to her (Burke’s) mother Albertha
Hamilton without preparing a Deed of Gift. She added that her mother
Albertha Hamilton gave her the land after which she entered into
possession. She asserted that she has never paid rent, profits or charges
to anyone in respect of the land. She averred that her mother died on 25 th April 1966. Ms. Burke asserted further that since then she
has enjoyed peaceful undisturbed and exclusive possession of the referenced
 Ms. Christopher asserted that the land described in the Statutory
Declaration is the same as the land which is the subject of this
application. She averred that it is by area 4,393 square feet and is
illustrated in the accompanying plan G59/119. She submitted that it is also
described in the application. She provided a photocopy of the plan. In the
application, the land is described as being bound as follows:
‘North East by a road South West by lands of the heirs of Ben Williams
North by lands of Venessa Ackee and South East by remaining lands of
 The court observes that the description in the application bears
little resemblance to that in the Schedule to the Statutory Declaration. In
this regard, the names of adjoining landowners are different. Similarly,
the distances outlined in the Statutory declaration differ from those on
the survey plan G59/119. For example, the length of the eastern boundary is
depicted as 38.69 feet on the plan, whereas in the Statutory Declaration
the distance of is stated to be 104 feet.
 Neither Ms. Christopher nor her witnesses attempted to explain the
discrepancies to satisfy the court that the land in the Statutory
Declaration is that which is the subject of this application. I find that
there is no correlation between the description in the Statutory
Declaration and that in the application as depicted on the referenced
survey plan. I make no finding that they are the same. The content of
Statutory Declaration does not support Ms. Christopher’s claim. Likewise,
it is not probative of factual possession by her of the subject land.
Furthermore, it is n ow accepted that a Statutory Declaration is nothing
more than a self-serving Deed of Settlement which does not constitute valid
 Ms. Christopher testified that from 1995 she ‘… used the said
parcel for agricultural purposes and (to) plant crops such as ground
provisions and (to) reap fresh fruits found from the abundant (sic) of
fruit bearing trees found’ there. She explained that since she has occupied
it she has never been disturbed by anyone nor has anyone made adverse
claims of the land. She provided no details about whether her farming of
the land was unbroken and if so for what period.
 Diarra Christopher is her sister and Sylma Haywood is her mother. Ms.
Haywood attested that Saran Christopher is in possession of the subject
land. She stated that it was formerly used by other relatives ‘who passed
it on until it became in possession of (Ms. Christopher) who received it
from Mildred Burke who died in 1995. Ms. Haywood did not indicate how Ms.
Christopher received it from Ms. Burke. Her account on this score differs
from Ms. Christopher’s. She said that she knows the land quite well and
knows that Ms. Christopher planted ground provisions on it and reaped
fruits from the numerous fruit trees growing on it. She did not offer any
information about when Ms. Christopher went into possession or when and for
what period she cultivated the land. In another affidavit Ms. Haywood
attested that Ms. Christopher migrated to the United States of America and
now lives there, but did not say when this took place.
 Diarra Christopher said that the land has been in their family for a
long time and even before she was born. She recalled that as children they
visited the land and picked fruits from the fruit trees. She asserted that
her sister and their family usually plant provisions and other annual crops
there for home use. She added that it is used mainly for agriculture but is
also suitable for building purposes. Like her sister and Ms. Haywood, she
proferred no details of the dates and periods when such cultivation took
place. Conspicuously absent from the accounts provided by Ms. Christopher
and her witnesses are adequate specifics which would assist the court in
finding that she has occupied and exercised exclusive control over the
subject land for 12 or more years. I find that she has not.
 It appears that Ms. Christopher has evinced an intention to own the
subject land. However, that intention was not matched by a corresponding
period of at least 12 years continuous factual possession of the land. I so
conclude in light of all the evidence.
 Ms. Christopher used the prescribed form in making her application.
She omitted the name of the registered owner, mandated by the Act. The
photocopy of the survey plan does not satisfy the evidential requirements,
because the law stipulates that either an original or certified copy be
 An estimated value of $43,930.00 was affixed to the land in the report
exhibited to the application. This complies with another requirement in the
Act.5 Ms. Christopher exhibited newspaper publications of the
requisites notices to the public of her intention to make this application;
and copies of notices of compliance that were posted respectively at the
Registrar’s Office and the Magistrate’s Court in Kingstown.7
High Court Bailiff Rodwell Alexander supplied an affidavit
in which he asserted that he served notice of the application on adjoining
, and that he posted a copy on a partly ruined house facing the public
road. Ms. Christopher has fulfilled the statutory procedural formalities
outlined in the Act. Notwithstanding, her failure to prove that she has had
factual possession of the land for the minimum 12 year period, renders her
application deficient. It is dismissed for this reason.
 It ordered:
- Saran Christopher’s application for a declaration of possessory title of
the subject land at Edinborough, in the Parish of St. George, in the State
of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, delineated in survey plan G59/119 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.
Per Benjamin JA. in Connell v Connell SVGHCVAP2004/25 (unreported),
at para 9.
In accordance with section 4 of the Act.
Pursuant to section 6 (1) of the Act; and section … of the
Evidence Act, Cap. 220 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines, Revised Edition 2009.
In accordance with section 7 of the Act. The notices were published
on 12th May, 2017, 16th June, 2017, and 25 th July 2017 respectively in the Vincentian and the
Filed on 30th March 2017.
Pursuant to section 8 of the Act.