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(PRESS RELEASE) – In a judgment released today, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) rejected an appeal to recover commission on the sale of land in Dominica in the matter of Hilary Shillingford v Angel Peter Andrew and Gloria Burnette nee Shillingford  CCJ 2 (AJ).
Mr Angel Andrew had filed a claim in 2008 against Ms Gloria Shillingford for failure to pay him some $2 million owed to him. This was from the proceeds of the sale of his land in Grand Savannah in the parish of St. Joseph in Dominica. Since Mr Andrew lived abroad, he had granted a power of attorney to Ms Shillingford, his sister, authorising her to sell the land.
Ms Shillingford denied owing any monies to Mr Andrew and claimed that he had authorised her to enter into an ‘exclusive agreement’ with Mr Hilary Shillingford, their cousin. According to the terms of the alleged agreement, the sale price for the land was set at $3 million. However, if the land was sold for more than $3 million, the excess monies were to be paid to Mr Shillingford. The lands were eventually sold for $4.5 million with $2.5 million paid to Mr Andrew and a hefty commission of $1.5 million paid to Mr Shillingford.
Mr Justice Brian Cottle in the High Court of Dominica did not believe either Ms Shillingford or Mr Shillingford that there was the alleged ‘exclusive agreement’ and therefore he gave judgment for Mr Andrew. The matter was appealed to the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court where Justices of Appeal, Mr Justice Baptiste, Mr Justice Michel and Mme Justice Thom, agreed with the findings of Mr Justice Cottle. They dismissed appeals from Ms Shillingford and Mr Shillingford, deciding that Mr Justice Cottle was entitled on the evidence to find that the ‘exclusive agreement’ was a fabrication designed to withhold from Mr Andrew a substantial part of the proceeds of the sale of his property.
Both Ms Shillingford and Mr Shillingford appealed separately to the CCJ. Ms Shillingford’s appeal was dismissed in February 2019.
In his appeal, Mr Shillingford sought to argue, as a fresh point, that the trial judge was wrong to find that the exclusive agreement was fictional because the case pleaded by Mr Andrew did not include any allegation of fraud by him or Ms Shillingford. Regardless, the CCJ decided that Justice Cottle’s finding, that the exclusive agreement was a fiction, was based on the evidence available to him and that an apex court would not normally allow a fresh point to be taken at the late stage when the matter reached it. The Court decided that it was too late in the proceedings for the new point to be introduced, and that there was no other reason to review the trial judge’s findings of fact, with which the Court of Appeal had agreed. The CCJ dismissed the appeal and awarded costs to Mr Andrew.
The Bench comprised Mr Justice Anderson, Mme Justice Rajnauth-Lee, Mr Justice Barrow, Mr Justice Burgess and Mr Justice Jamadar, and the judgment was delivered by Mme Justice Rajnauth-Lee. Mr Shillingford was represented by Mr Douglas Mendes SC, Ms Cara Shillingford and Ms Gabrielle Gellineau, Mr Andrew was represented by Mr Michael E Bruney and Ms Lisa De Freitas and Ms Shillingford represented herself.
The full judgment of the Court and a judgment summary are available on the Court’s website at www.ccj.org.