Enal v Singh & Ors (Trinidad and Tobago) [2022] UKPC 1311 April 2022

Published: 19/04/2022 09:00


Lords Briggs, Kitchin and Hamblen, Lady Rose, and Sir Nicholas Patten.

On appeal to the Privy Council from the CA of Trinidad and Tobago. Mr Maharaj, the father of R and S, paid for a parcel of commercial properties which he placed in the name of R and S under a 1976 deed, while exercising POAs for R and S. Parcel later partitioned between R and S. In 2006, Mr Maharaj, again acting under POA, directed sale of R’s properties to S and her son K for an undervalue, explaining that R was wealthy. If Mr Maharaj was not the beneficial owner of the properties at this time, then R owned them and sale at an undervalue was a breach of Mr Maharaj’s fiduciary duties to R under the POA. After R’s death, the claimant (R’s common law wife, beneficiary and executrix) alleged that this 2006 transfer was the product of presumed undue influence as Mr Maharaj lived with S and was dependent on her and K for care.

Trial judge had held that R and S had held the properties on trust for Mr Maharaj, but Court of Appeal held that the 1976 deed transferred the beneficial ownership to R and S. Mr Maharaj had therefore sold R’s properties to S and K without R’s knowledge or consent and had not accounted to him for the proceeds. Defendants appealed, arguing that CA should not have interfered with the findings of the trial judge. Privy Council held that the CA had directed itself correctly as to appellate function and did not fall into error in deciding that the judge’s treatment of the evidence was plainly wrong [42].

Discussion of whether presumption of advancement applicable to commercial properties [35] and evidence capable of rebutting presumption.

On issue of undue influence [50], CA held that the trial judge had overlooked the POA and was therefore wrong in his conclusion there was no relationship of dependence or trust and confidence between Mr Maharaj on the one hand, and S and K on the other. Privy Council held that CA was entitled to set aside the judge’s finding on this and to hold that there was a relationship of trust and confidence. POA was probative as to existence of such a relationship. As the relationship had been established, a transaction at such an undervalue without R’s knowledge or consent and without accounting to him for the proceeds was, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation, the product of undue influence. Appeal dismissed.

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