Camille v Marie (CS 68/2015) [2016] SCSC 312 (28 April 2016);

     

     

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF SEYCHELLES

Civil Side:  68/2015

 

       [2016] SCSC 312

 

 

MARIE JENNY CAMILLE

 

                       

 

versus

 

LOFTY MARIE

 

 

 

 

Heard:                         18 February, 2016

Counsel:                      S. Rouillon for

 

                                         

 

                                    B. Julie for

 

                                         

 

Delivered:                   28 April 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Plaintiff and the Defendant were married on the 13th February, 1995 and were granted a Decree Absolute putting an end to their marriage on the 15th April, 2015. During the course of their marriage the Plaintiff and the Defendant lived together in a house built by the Plaintiff prior to the marriage on parcel H178 situated at Bel Ombre.

[2] The Plaintiff claims that the Defendant has no legal authority to remain in her house after the divorce and that if the Defendant wishes to claim any share in the property he should do so by filing proper proceedings to that effect.

[3] The Plaintiff hence prayed this Court to grant a mandatory injunction ordering the Defendant to quit, leave and vacate the said house and premises.

[4] The Defendant does not dispute that the Plaintiff is the sole owner of the land parcel H178 and that the Plaintiff was responsible for the construction of the house thereon but he maintains that he made considerable contributions through the Plaintiff for the construction of the house and that consequently he has an equivalent of 40% value of the house, which if paid to him, he will vacate the house upon receipt.

[5] The Plaintiff testified that she paid cash for the land before she met the Defendant and took a loan in the sum of Rs 115,000 for the construction of the house. When she met the Defendant the house was almost completed except for painting.  She maintained that the Defendant’s contributions made after they moved in into the house could not amount to more than Rs50,000 to Rs 75,000. The Defendant’s contribution only extended to buying 4 iron sheets to cover a small shed, ½ the costs of the tiles placed in the house, a fibreglass water tank and marble tiles for the kitchen cabinet.

[6] She maintained that other financial contributions made by the Defendant were for the upkeep of the house and the children which she also contributed equally towards. She therefore maintained that she was not prepared to pay the Defendant more than Rs100,000 to Rs150,000 as his contribution to the improvements to the house.

[7] Marie-Therese Larame, the mother of the Plaintiff, testified that the Plaintiff lived with her at Copolia until her house was completed at Bel Ombre, when she moved there with the Defendant. The witness maintained that at the time she was supervising the work on the Plaintiff’s house. She is aware that the Defendant helped the Plaintiff to paint the house but she is not aware if the Defendant made any other contribution to the Plaintiff.

[8] The Defendant testified that when he met the Plaintiff, the house at Bel Ombre was already constructed except for some plastering, some carpentry work, painting, and there were no doors or burglars bars. He also assisted with the landscaping. He further assisted the Plaintiff by giving her money to buy the materials needed for the completion of the house as well as contributing to the maintenance of the house and the family. He also built a small outside kitchen. He maintained that he has been working as a fireman throughout the marriage and always has had sufficient money to meet his household contributions.

[9]The Defendant admitted that he did not make any contribution to the purchase of the land as the Plaintiff had already bought the land when he met her. His only claim is for his contribution to the completion and maintenance of the house which he estimated to be around 35 to 40% of the value of the house which he claims to be around Rs350,000.  

[10] Only one valuation report compiled by Nigel Antoine Roucou a quantity surveyor was submitted as exhibit. The report placed a estimate of Seychelles Rupees one million seven hundred thousand for the actual value of the land and house.

[11] The Seychelles Court of Appeal Case of Freddy Chetty vs Caroline Emile SCA 11 of 2008 set out the principle to be applied in determining the parties’ shares in matrimonial property which provisions are found in sections 20 and 21 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1992. The Court of Appeal stated::

 

“Contributions towards matrimonial property cannot be measured in pure monetary terms, in hard cash. As stated earlier the love and sweat and the long hours of vigil to bring up the family by the spouses all have a role to play in the accumulation of matrimonial property. The cooking, the sweeping, the cleaning, the sewing, the laundering, tending to the children and the many other nameless chores in a home are not things for which a value can be put on, but certainly contribute towards the build up of matrimonial property. We also find it difficult to accept that once a party makes a choice of his or her partner and decide to live together as husband and wife one party cannot be heard to say that I had a better job or I am the person who brought more money, when the relationship goes sour.”

 

[12] In the case of Marie Andree Renaud v/s Gaetan Renaud (1998)[SCAR] 48  the Court of Appeal further stated that:

 “the powers of the Court pursuant to Section 20 (1) (g) of the Act must be read within the context of the totality of Section 20 of the Act which is designed for the grant of financial relief.  Such relief may consist of a periodical payments (Section 20 (1) (d) or lump sum payment (Section 21 (1) (e)) for the benefit of relevant child or property adjustment order (Section 21 (g).)

 

The purpose of the provisions of the subsections is to ensure that upon dissolution of the marriage, a party to a marriage is not put at an unfair disadvantage in relation to the other, by reason of the breakdown of the marriage and or as far as possible, to enable the party applying to maintain a fair and reasonable standard of living, commensurate with or near the standard the parties have maintained before dissolution.”

 

[13] In the case of Marie Hortense Lesperance vs Ralph Armand Lesperence SCA 3 of 2003 the Court of appeal granted each party ½ of the matrimonial property despite the fact that it was solely on the Respondent’s name but only after concluding that there were sufficient evidence to establish that the Petitioner had made substantial contributions by helping physically in the construction of the house whilst also providing the Respondent secretarial assistance in the business from where the Respondent made his money which was used for the acquisition of the property and its construction in addition to her contribution in kind to the maintenance of the family.

 

[14] In the case of Christine Marina Alcindor v/s Antoine Alcindor DV 117 of 2005, the Court granted the Petitioner 40 percent of the share of the matrimonial property but only after concluding that the Petitioner equally contributed financially and otherwise to the household and maintenance of the family and that the Petitioner continued to maintain the household after the Respondent had left.

[15] In this case it has been clearly established that the Plaintiff was the sole owner of the land which she purchased long before she met the Defendant and that the house was almost completed when the Defendant came into the picture. The Defendant in fact only assisted with the final touches to make the house comfortable for the family but it was the Plaintiff who provided the financial resources from the loan she took and repaid. Furthermore, the contributions of the Defendant did not go to benefit of the Plaintiff by enriching her at the expense of the Defendant but went more towards the comfort of both parties and the children of the marriage. The evidence show that in addition to the construction of the house, the Plaintiff equally contributed towards the household.

[16] Hence giving due consideration to the value of each party’s contribution, I find that the Defendant did not contribute directly more than 10% of the value of the house excluding the land which for which the Defendant did not contribute at all. However, during the marriage I find that the contribution of the Defendant towards the household allowed the Plaintiff to use her resources to complete and improve the house so that it now has  considerable value. This would give the Defendant a further indirect contribution of 10% towards the value of the property, excluding the land. Since the valuation report has not given separate value to the land and house, and I find that the Defendant did not contribute to the acquisition of the land I shall determine the value of each party’s share on the value of the house only which I estimate to be around one million Seychelles Rupees. Hence I declare that the Defendant has a share of 20% in the matrimonial house, excluding the land, amounting in monetary value of Rs 200,000/-

[17] Consequently I enter judgment as follows:

  1. The Plaintiff shall pay the Defendant the sum of Rs 200,000/- as his share in the matrimonial property.
  2. Upon payment of the Defendant’s share, the Defendant shall vacate the matrimonial home forthwith.

[18] Each party shall bare their own costs.         

 

 

Signed, dated and delivered at Ile du Port on 28 April 2016

 

 

G Dodin
Judge of the Supreme Court