Quashie v Solomon [2022] UKPC 34

Published: 30/09/2022 09:00

https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC/2022/34.html

The Privy Council heard an appeal concerning promissory and proprietary estoppel and the time for enforcing interests held under constructive trusts.

Mr and Mrs Solomon married in 1978 and divorced in 1981. They had one child, Ayana, the respondent to these proceedings. In 1986, a final order provided W with 50% interest in the former matrimonial home and the land on which it was built, and half share of a boat. H’s appeal was resolved by consent with him paying W $7,000 in lieu of the boat and holding one half share in the FMH and land in trust for Ayana. H failed to comply and W did not enforce. She died in 2000. In 2009, Ayana discovered the consent order and in 2011 successfully applied to court for a deed in those terms. H sought to set this aside, arguing that he and W had a verbal agreement that H would pay the lump sum but not transfer the property/land; that he had relied on this promise by paying W the lump sum; and following an earthquake, H built a new house on part of the land and ‘in furtherance of the agreement and/or promise’ spent a substantial sum of money building a second property thereon. H also argued that Ayana was time barred from enforcing the consent order; and the 2011 deed was null and void because the subject matter of the Order was no longer in existence – he had built two houses on the land. Ayana sought to enforce the terms of the Order.

At first instance, Rahim J rejected the limitation argument on the basis that the instrument creating the daughter’s interest was 2011 and thus the limitation period 16 years; and rejected the estoppel argument as ‘it did not accord with common sense’ that W would surrender her interest in the property for $7,000. Pending his appeal to the Court of Appeal, H died, and in 2019 Ms Quashe was appointed on behalf of his Estate. The Court of Appeal agreed with Rahim J; and held that by the terms of the consent order, H was a constructive trustee of W’s 50% interest in the FMH, and the 2011 deed was valid. The consent order created a constructive trust in favour of Ayana and that it was inequitable to allow H and W’s failure to enforce to defeat her claim. Ms Quashe appealed.

The Privy Council dismissed the appeal. On estoppel, the Board found the reasoning of the courts below to be unimpeachable. On the 2011 Deed, H argued that the Registrar had exceeded her powers under s.24 of the Trinidad and Tobago Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1962 by transferring the property to Ayana rather than (he argued) transferring to W’s estate. The section provides:

‘where a person neglects or refuses to comply with an order directing him to execute a conveyance, the High Court may order that the conveyance be executed by such person as the High Court shall nominate and a conveyance so executed shall operate and be for all purposes available as if it had been executed by the person originally directed to execute it.’

The Board found that W had intended that H would hold her half-share for Ayana not that H would hold her half-share on trust for W who held it on sub-trust for Ayana. Ayana, having now attained her majority, was entitled to call for the transfer to herself of half the legal title to reflect her beneficial interest. That is what the 2011 deed did.

Class Legal

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