David George Claimant v Eron Oliver Defendant [ECSC]

JurisdictionSt Vincent and the Grenadines
CourtHigh Court (Saint Vincent)
JudgeMatthew J
Judgment Date23 May 2008
Judgment citation (vLex)[2008] ECSC J0523-2
Docket NumberHIGH COURT CLAIM NO. 484 OF 2006
Date23 May 2008
[2008] ECSC J0523-2

THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

HIGH COURT CLAIM NO. 484 OF 2006

Between:
David George
Claimant
and
Eron Oliver
Defendant
1

Matthew J. (Ag.): On January 16, 2006 the Claimant filed a statement of claim in which he sought the sum of $51,012.40 being the amount due and payable by the Defendant to the Claimant as "finder's fees" in the sale and purchase of 140,402 square feet of land situated at Carapan and sold by the Defendant to Blessings Investment Ltd in January 4, 2006 for $1,020,248.00.

Matthew J
2

In his statement of claim the Claimant said he is a taxi driver in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Defendant is and was at all material times a land proprietor of lands at Carapan.

3

He stated that in or about June 2005 while his car was parked near to the Music Centre in Kingstown, the Defendant stopped him and told him he had some lands for sale at Carapan and that if he got a buyer he will have some money coming.

4

He stated that it was mutually agreed that if the Claimant got a buyer the Claimant would be paid by the Defendant the universally accepted finder's fee of 5 per cent of the purchase price.

5

The Claimant later contacted Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Johnson in the United States of America and gave them the Defendant's telephone number in Saint Vincent. The Johnsons called the Defendant on June 12, 2005 and told him the Claimant had put them in touch with him.

6

On June 15, 2005 Mr. and Mrs. Johnson flew to St. Vincent and having been shown the land agreed to purchase the same for $1,020,248.00. The land was conveyed to Blessings Investment Ltd by virtue of Deed No. 97 of 2006.

7

Soon thereafter the Defendant met the Claimant at Ratho Mill and handed him an envelope but the Claimant, without opening or touching the envelope, said he noticed that the envelope contained no more than $200.00 and he refused to accept it.

8

The Claimant alleged that there was a meeting between himself and the Defendant together with their respective solicitors when the Claimant through his solicitor demanded the sum of $51,012.40.

9

The Defendant filed his defence on or about December 19, 2006 in which he categorically denied each and every averment pleaded in the statement of claim in its entirety save and except for the fact that the Claimant was the taxi driver who transported the eventual purchasers to the home of the Defendant

10

The Defendant alleged that the Claimant is neither a friend, nor a business partner, nor an acquaintance of the Defendant and is known only as a taxi driver by the Defendant.

11

The Defendant alleged that at no time did he make any agreement with the Claimant for the latter to find purchasers for the Defendant's land.

12

The Defendant stated that as a known seller of lands he regularly advertised lots for sale in the newspapers and on a bulletin board at his home and has never used real estate agents to sell any of the lands which he owns.

13

He stated that it was possible for anyone passing along the road in Ratho Mill to get information about his lands for sale.

14

The Defendant counterclaimed against the Claimant for the sum of $10,000.00 being monies expended for consultations and opinions by reason of the claim.

15

On January 23, 2007 the Claimant filed a reply and defence to the counterclaim in which he joined issue with the Defendant in his defence.

16

In his defence to the counterclaim the Claimant contended that monies allegedly expended by the Defendant for consultations and opinions cannot be properly counterclaimed for, since such monies may be recoverable as costs. I tend to agree.

EVIDENCE
17

At the trial the Claimant gave evidence and called June Johnson as his witness. The Defendant gave evidence but called no witnesses.

18

So much of what is in the witness statement has already been pleaded and I have already referred to that practice in other judgments. The Claimant stated that on June 17, 2005 the Defendant told him the people took the land and he would deal with him later.

19

The Claimant was extensively cross-examined by learned Counsel for the Defendant. He said he has known the Defendant for more than thirty years and was at one time the minibus driver for the Defendant, his wife and children, from Stubbs to Kingstown.

20

He said he did not sell land for the Defendant before and did not know the Defendant was selling land. The Defendant did not tell him where the land was located. The Defendant did not tell him how much money he would be receiving and he did not ask the Defendant specifically how much money.

21

The Claimant said he did not know how much land the Defendant was selling. They did not speak about 5 per cent at the Music Center but after the Claimant filed the case he believed he should be getting 5 per cent.

22

He said he had several conversations with the Defendant between June 2005 and January 2006 but he did not ask the Defendant how much money he would be getting.

23

He said it was not true that the information he obtained about the sale of the land was what he overheard as he drove the Johnsons around. He said he never knew that Mr. Oliver had advertised land for sale.

24

He said he knew Mrs. Johnson was in Saint Vincent before June 9, 2005 and wanted to buy property and he did not come to Court to lie his way through.

25

He said Mr. Oliver tried to give him an envelope on January 25, 2006 and three times he asked Mr. Oliver what was in the envelope and he would not reply so he left Mr. Oliver and went to retain Counsel. He said he thought he would get about $50,000.

26

Upon re-examination he said he acted as agent for Mr. Oliver and he was entitled to at least 5per cent of the purchase price. He said he knew Mrs. Johnson had a land deal with Celia Hadaway which was not concluded.

27

June Johnson stated that she and her husband retained the taxi services of the Claimant to take them to her brother's resident at Lowman's where they stayed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

28

She stated that on several occasions they mentioned to the Claimant that they were interested in the purchase of land for business purposes. She said she was in S1. Vincent on June 6, 2005 and left on June 9, 2005. She said on June 11, 2005 she received a call from Mr. George and he gave her the telephone number of the Defendant.

29

She said on June 12, 2005 she called the Defendant and discussed her interest on purchasing lands mentioned by the Claimant. She said she and her husband returned to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on June 15, 2005. Mr. George met them at the airport and took them to the home of Mr. Oliver.

30

They had discussions with Mr. Oliver and Mr. Oliver joined her husband and herself in the taxi that Mr. George was driving and Mr. Oliver gave directions to the land.

31

She said the purchase of the lands was finalized in January 2006 and the land was conveyed to her company, Blessing Investments Ltd.

32

When she was cross-examined she stated that she had used the taxi services of the Claimant on visits previous to June 2005. She said when she came in May 2005 she was not looking for land but afterwards she began thinking of that as a result of a conversation with her sister-in-law.

33

She said she had entered into a formal agreement with Celia Hadaway to purchase land but that agreement was not concluded into a purchase and sale of land.

34

She said she did not tell the Claimant to look for land for her but he was at the airport when the agreement with Hadaway was canceled and so she was not surprised when Mr. George called her in the U.S.A. to tell her about land.

35

She stated that George did not tell her how much land was for sale or the cost of the land.

36

She said when George took herself and her husband to the Defendant's home and they spoke the Defendant entered the taxi which George was driving with herself and her husband and he proceeded to give directions to the land.

37

The witness stated that Mr. George had told her that the land was at Carapan and the view was what she wanted.

38

She further stated: "All l know is Mr. George took me to his home and introduced me to him … We did not discuss anything with Mr. George. The most I know him is as a taxi driver"

39

The Defendant filed his witness statement on May 31,2007. The Defendant stated that he is a Retired Third Officer aboard Merchant Vessels registered in Liberia and all during his employment for 38 years he had saved his earnings to purchase properties for later sales at a profit.

40

He said he had never used the services of anyone to buy or sell anything.

41

He said: "The first time I saw the Claimant was the day he drove the Johnsons to my gap at Ratho Mill and they, the Johnsons, said to me that they spoke to me about some lands and they would like to see the lands."

42

He said he drove himself from Ratho Mill to Carapan and the Claimant drove the Johnson's behind him to Carapan. That evidence is in direct conflict with what June Johnson said.

43

He said that Johnsons came out and he took them through the land while the Claimant who never spoke to him or the Johnsons was seated on a log at the roadside waiting for the Johnsons.

44

He said the next time he saw the Claimant was outside the lawyer's office sitting in his vehicle and was never in the office with the Johnsons and himself.

45

He said the next time he saw the Claimant was at the law office of Mr. Dougan where he was claiming that Defendant should pay him commission because Defendant had collected a lot of money and he was the one who brought the people to see the land.

46

The Defendant said he told the Claimant that he had no arrangement or agreement with him over anything. He said he owes the Claimant nothing as he had advertised his lands for sale in the Newspaper, which he exhibited, and on his Notice Board affixed to a tree...

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