Legal battle over Maracas private road goes to Appeal Court

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– File photo

A legal battle over the ownership of a private road on Fond Pois Doux Road, Maracas, will continue in the Court of Appeal later this year.

Attorneys have been asked to agree on dates for a hearing of the appeal after October.

The appeal concerns a claim by a businessman for ownership of a private road between two lots of land.

In August 2023, Justice Carol Gobin dismissed a claim for ownership of the private road advanced by Peter Doig and Alfonso Roper against Paul Duval, managing director of the Mahogany Ridge Bed and Breakfast.

Gobin ruled that Doig’s claim to ownership of the private road could not succeed. Doig appealed the ruling.

In his claim to ownership, Doig claimed deeds, survey plans and cadastral sheets had the effect of conveying ownership to him. He also claimed usage of the private road for access to his property.

However, Gobin held his contentions were without merit.

Doig bought two defined lots (lots B and C) in Duval’s estate development in 2002 and 2015 from the previous owners.

The contentious private road was only created in 2000, but access to the two lots was provided by an already existing road.

Duval maintained that Doig did not buy the private road. In her ruling, Gobin said he was not claiming a right of way, an easement or quasi-easement, but ownership.

She said his reliance on section 16 of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act was misconceived.

“When the well-established law is applied it is fairly obvious that Mr Doig’s claim to ownership by virtue of Section 16 of the CLPA must fail,” the judge ruled.

She also held that the common-law presumption could not apply in the case, since the conveyancing history of the land was well known.

“At all times Mr Doig was well aware of the boundaries of Lots B and C and that they did not include the private road which was not in existence until 2000.

“Even if it could be said that the presumption arose, the authorities establish it should readily yield to Mr Duval’s very clear indications to the contrary, that the private road was his, and no one else’s…”

She pointed to Duval’s evidence that as a land developer, he decided to decrease the size of Plot B when he originally sold the property, to accommodate the construction of the private road, and at the same time established the southern boundary of the reduced plot as the private road.

Duval also said as the vendor, he expressly granted access to the lots using the existing road, and not the private road.

“At the end of this, what is left of Mr Doig’s case is his contention that Mr Duval has no need for the private road he constructed deliberately and at his own expense because he has no lands on either side of it, and it leads only to Mr Roper’s property.

“Mr Roper has no intention of selling to Mr Duval. In those circumstances, Mr Doig’s belief is that Mr Duval has lost his strip of road and that he (Mr Doig) has somehow become the owner of it. His claim has no foundation in law and is in my view absurd.

“On the issues, the court finds that the first claimant cannot succeed and his claim to ownership of the private road should be dismissed,” Gobin ruled.

Roper’s property consists of ten acres adjoining Duval’s property on the east.

The substantive matter and what’s left of the claim before Gobin remain on hold pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

Doig is represented by attorneys John Heath, SC, Christophe Rodriguez, Niala Narine and Kimaada Ottley. Duval is represented by Rishi Dass, SC, and Marguerita Hospedales.