The Court of Appeal has sought to finally resolve a long-standing legal dispute between two neighbours from central Trinidad over the construction of a boundary wall separating their properties.
Delivering an oral ruling at the end of a virtual appeal on Wednesday, Appellate Judges Gregory Smith, Mira Dean-Armorer and Vasheist Kokaram dismissed Kalam and Shareefa Mohamed’s appeal against Noor and Neisha Hosein and their company India Fashions.
The dispute between the parties over the wall between their properties at Ackbar Road in Charlieville, began almost two decades ago.
In 2008, the parties entered a consent order in which they agreed to discontinue the case under the agreement that the Hoseins would build a concrete wall where a chain-link fence separating the properties previously existed.
Eight years after the wall was completed, the Mohameds filed separate litigation claiming that it was constructed in breach of the order as a survey report was required to determine the property boundary where the wall should be constructed.
The case was initially dismissed by a High Court Judge leading the Mohameds to file an appeal.
Kokaram, who delivered the appeal panel’s decision in the case, ruled that the judge was correct to dismiss the case.
Kokaram pointed out that under the terms of the order, the parties agreed that the wall would be constructed along the area where the fence previously stood and that a surveyor would only be utilised to determine the height of the wall.
He also noted that a surveyor’s report prepared before the consent order was agreed upon showed that the existing fence slightly encroached on the Hoseins’ property.
“The agreement resolved the dispute amicably and there was therefore no need to commission another survey to determine where the wall was to go,” Kokaram said.
He noted that even if the Mohameds were successful in the appeal, it would not have resolved the dispute as the wall would have to be demolished and a new survey done, which could possibly show that the wall was in fact at the correct location.
“At every level of our courts, we all disapprove of litigation where the costs of pursuing it far outweighs the value of the claim and its utility,” he said.
Kokaram expressed concern that the panel’s decision would not assist in quelling the long-standing dispute between the parties.
“I am mindful it may not bring peace between these neighbours. It may not be the end of their hostilities, but that is the reality of our society,” he said.
Despite his concerns, he still encouraged the parties to introspect and move on from their dispute.
“I want the parties to understand that they have reached a point where they need to find peace, if not with one another, peace within themselves,” Kokaram said.
“While there may be no winners here in that context I want both parties walking away saying we can reflect on who we are and who we can be in the future,” he added.
As part of the panel’s decision, it ordered that the Mohameds pay the Hoseins’ legal costs for defending the lawsuit.
The Mohameds were represented by Gregory Delzin while Fyard Hosein, SC, Anil Maraj and Aadam Hosein represented the Hoseins.