EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA
Before: The Hon. Justice Brian Cottle
Mrs. Zena Dyer for Claimant
Mr. Bernard McDonald Christopher for Defendant
JUDGMENT  COTTLE, J: Victoria Greenaway is an elderly lady. Unfortunately, in
addition to the usual infirmities which attend old age, Ms Greenaway also
suffers from schizophrenia and dementia. She has been so afflicted for a long
time. In fact, as early as November 2nd
2004, Dr. Benjamin, the Consultant
Psychiatrist at the Princess Margaret Hospital, wrote to the manager of the
Royal Bank of Canada. He advised that Ms. Roma Harney was co-signatory
to Ms. Greenaway account and that Ms. Greenaway was mentally
incompetent to administer the account.
 Alas, no regard seems to have been paid to that letter by the bank.
Mr. Roma Harney has been acting as principal caregiver to Ms. Greenaway.
As it emerged from the evidence that care-giving has been less that
 Some’Ume in 2006 Ms. Harney as is her wont went abroad for a protracted
period. Victoria was left to fend for herself or at best – in the care of another
sister of Ms. Harney – a sister who was also a chronic long term mental
patient. Not surprisingly the condition of Victoria deteriorated drastically. She
wandered the streets of Wesley, the small village where she lived,
unattended. She was unable to attend to her own personal hygiene.
 The defendant is ashopkeeper in the village. Victoria would frequent the shop
to purchase meals – usually canned corned beef and bread. The defendant
took Victoria into her home and cared for her.
 After a period of several weeks Victoria and the defendant went into Roseau.
They visited the bank. Victoria was seen by a bank employee. Despite the
letter referred to earlier from Dr Benjamin to the bank, the joint account that
Victoria had hitherto held with Roma Harney was closed. The funds were
transferred to a joint account in the names of Victoria and the defendant. A
portion of the funds was also transferred to an account which the defendant
holds with another person.
 Almost two weeks after these bank transactions Ms. Harney returned to
Dominica and had Victoria removed from the home of the defendant.
 Ms. Harney now brings this action or behalf of Victoria seeking the return of
any funds transferred out of Victoria’s accounts on the basis that Victoria was subjected to undue influence by the defendant to cause her to place her
money at the disposal of the defendant.
 The court had the benefit of the evidence of Dr. Griffin Benjamin. I have no
hesitation in accepting the expert opinion of the doctor that Victoria lacked the
mental capacity to operate her account and that at the time of the visit to the
Royal Bank of Canada she lacked that capacity.
 Section 18 of the Mental Health Act Chap 40:62 of the Laws of the
Commonwealth of Dominica empowers this court, with respect to the property
and affairs of a patient, to do or secure the doing of all such things as appear
to be necessary or expedient for the maintenance or other benefit of the
 With the benefit of the patient Victoria as my paramount concern I make the
1. The defendant is ordered to have her name removed as joint holder with
Victoria Greenaway to the account now standing in their joint names at the
Royal Bank of Canada.
2. The defendant is also ordered to repay to Victoria Greenaway all sums
received as agift from Victoria Greenaway.
[111 I note that Roma Henry has been appointed receiver for Victoria Greenaway.
This is an office which must be taken seriously. It cannot be discharged by
leaving the patient, Victoria, to fend for herself for long periods as has
happened before. In order that there should be some supervision, I order that
Roma Harney file an account of her stewardship of Victoria Greenaway’s
affairs as well as a report on Victoria’s condition by May 31
2010 and at six
months intervals thereafter. The court will fix hearing dates to receive and
consider such reports and will make such further order as may then appear to
 I will make no order as to costs in this matter. This is not to be taken as
condoning the actions of the defendant who I find knew of the condition of the
patient Victoria and took advantage of that knowledge, but the negligence of
Roma Harney in permitting such a situation to develop, persuades me that it
is just to make no order as to costs. It is for that same reason that I do not order that the defendant or indeed Roma Harney account for the funds which
they may have used from the account of Victoria Greenaway thus far.
High Court Judge