The Court of Appeal has reversed a High Court Judge’s decision to order an attorney to reimburse a prospective homeowner her $65,000 deposit for a home in a housing development in Arima, which is still to be constructed.
Delivering a judgement yesterday, Appellate Judges Nolan Bereaux, Charmaine Pemberton and Ronnie Boodoosingh ruled that High Court Judge Robin Mohammed was wrong to uphold Suzette Smith’s false representation case against attorney Hadyn-John Gadsby.
“This is really a business venture gone bad rather than a fraudulent representation,” Bereaux said.
As part of their decision in the case, the appeal panel ordered Smith to pay the $28,000 in legal costs Gadsby incurred in defending her lawsuit and pursuing the appeal.
The appeal’s decision on legal costs in the case came after Smith’s lawyer, Ronald Dowlat, requested that both parties bear their own costs based on the facts of the case.
“She did the best she could do. It is unfortunate that she found herself in this position,” Dowlat said.
Justice Bereaux rejected the submission, as he noted that the panel had no choice but to make the order, as Smith was the unsuccessful party in the case.
“It is really a sad thing that happened here but we simply have to apply the law,” Bereaux said, as he noted that Smith could lodge a final appeal with the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.
According to the evidence in the case, in June 2011, Smith entered into an agreement with 7 Hills Estate Development Company to purchase a house in its planned development in Arima.
Under the terms of the agreement, Smith agreed to pay a $65,000 deposit and balance within 90 days of the home being completed.
The company agreed to complete the home within a year of the deposit being paid and to reimburse Smith her deposit if it was not completed within 18 months, or if it could not show a good marketable title to the land.
In January 2014, Smith sought to get back her deposit but the developer refused to reimburse her. In addition to suing the company, Smith also sued Gadsby and Saroop, who both served as directors of the company.
In his judgement in the case in July 2017, Justice Mohammed suggested that the company’s pleadings indicated that they did not want to cancel the agreement and still planned on completing the development once it got planning permission.
Justice Mohammed found Gadsby liable for fraudulent misrepresentation and ordered him to reimburse the deposit, as he did not accept his (Gadsby) explanation over the company’s connection with the land.
He also ruled that Smith would have been induced into entering the agreement based on the alleged misrepresentation.
Smith was also represented by Anthony Manwah and Renee Johncilla, while Kerwyn Garcia and Aisha Donawa represented Gadsby.