Former West Indies opening batsman Devon Smith loses fifteen per cent of his million-dollar estate to his former lover and mother of his two children. This according to a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal delivered last Friday during a sitting at the court in Grenada.
The ruling, which now sets aside an initial ruling at the level of the civil court that went in Smith’s favour claims that the plaintiff, Elizabeth Halley who had been in a relationship with Smith for eighteen years and lived with him for thirteen years, was entitled to benefit from the proceeds of the estate.
Initially, the Civil Court ruling made no provision for Halley, whom it said made no significant contribution to Smith’s estate and therefore had no entitlement.
According to the ruling handed down last Friday, the appeal judges agreed that having lived together for several years, with plans to marry and have a family, there was a level of expectation on her part to benefit from the estate.
The judgment noted that the building in question was built by Halley’s father and brother at a special cost given the fact that their daughter and sister was a beneficiary of the property. Also, Ms Halley had taken a loan that contributed to the decoration of the house.
However, in 2016 Smith ended the relationship claiming that he was marrying someone else and ordered Ms Halley to vacate the property, he later offered her ten thousand dollars as compensation for what she had contributed.
The judges ruled that given all the prevailing circumstances Halley was entitled to fifteen per cent of the entire estate, which includes the house and two parcels of land following an evaluation to be done on or before November 30th 2019. Smith is required to pay the cost of the appeal.
Speaking to members of the media following last Friday’s ruling, the lawyer for the appellant Derrick Sylvester described the ruling as a historic one for the region since it is the first time the Court of Appeal has ruled on such a matter in our jurisdiction. According to him, this highlights the fact that financial contribution in a relationship is one factor the court ought to take into consideration when arriving at a decision.
The court he said must look at the contribution both direct and indirect in a holistic manner, not individually.
The court he said decided that Halley, the mother of Smith’s two children contributed sufficiently and therefore she ought to benefit in a real way.