Kobina Arba Taylor V. W. Ward Brew & Ors (1942)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Trust Deed–Conveyance of property on intestacy to settlor’s father and solicitor—Undue influence—Onus in rebuttal lies upon solicitor.
The settlor, a young woman, on attaining the age of ’21, inherited a considerable fortune under the will of her maternal grandmother.
Four months later, her father who was also her solicitor, for whom she had an intense dislike, persuaded her to make a settlement of her property by a Trust Deed. A clause was inserted by the settlor’s father, without the settlor’s instruction and without her knowledge.
The effect of this clause was that the third defendant, the father, would take the whole property should the settlor die intestate, to the exclusion of the plaintiff, the young woman’s husband, and all the settlor’s relatives on the female side.
Without this clause the third defendant, the father, could inherit no part of the property, either by the provisions of English Law or by that of native custom.
The settlor was married to the plaintiff under the Marriage Ordinance two months after the Trust Deed was executed. She died intestate, without issue, twelve days after this marriage.
The plaintiff sought to have the Trust Deed cancelled or declared null and void as being a Deed which was not the voluntary act of the settlor, and which had been executed by her by reason of undue influence exercised by her solicitor who was also her father. The trial judge found that the settlor did not understand what she was doing and declared the Trust Deed to he null and void. The 2nd and 3rd defendants appealed.
Appeal dismissed. The deed was executed whilst the settlor was unduly under the influence of her parent and with that influence operating on her mind she executed the Trust Deed.