‘I want my house back!’

Barbadian contractor Horace Drakes has labelled the country’s legal system a farce after trying to get a housing matter resolved in the law court for over ten years.

Horace Drakes sifting through legal and contractual documents acquired over an 11-year period.
Horace Drakes sifting through legal and contractual documents acquired over an 11-year period.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Drakes, who lives in Canada, revealed that after 15 court appearances, three lawyers and constant adjournments, he had yet to get a couple who took possession of a house without his approval off the property.

“My wife Sandra and I have been coming to Barbados for the past 11 years trying to resolve the court case and all that is happening is that it is being cancelled on the date of arrival. We have difficulties in trying to find a resolution in a housing matter which is clearly identified by contracts and we cannot by pursuit of the court system have it finalized in a decision to evict persons from our house,” a frustrated Drakes said.

With documents in hand, the couple elaborated on their struggle to repossess the 900 square foot, two bedroom, one bathroom house at Goodlands Gardens, Christ Church.

In what appeared to be a complicated deal, the Drakes family has ended up footing a mortgage for a house they had not planned for.

He explained that after a couple living in England contracted him to build a house for them, they discovered that they did not qualify for a mortgage here.

With a downpayment of about $104,000, Drakes put up his house as collateral and took a loan to build the dwelling for the couple, with strict conditions that they would make the monthly payments of approximately $1,400 to the bank, plus insurance to cover the building and their lives.

However, after just two payments the couple stopped, leaving the Drakes family stuck with a mortgage and no house, because his former clients have moved in and have refused to budge.

Eleven years later, and several meeting with attorneys representing the two sides, and “a roller coaster ride in the court”, Drakes said he was now over $700, 000 out of pocket for a house which costs $275, 000.

“We have been going back and forth from Canada and we have had a judge who literally sits and we cannot seem to get advancement or a resolution to the case . . . This year we have come to Barbados three times, and on this occasion and the previous occasions, the court hearing was adjourned, we were not contacted or notified. [We only found out] when we turned up with our lawyer at the court to read a notice saying that the judge is not taking cases between December 1st to 4th,” he told Barbados TODAY.

He said he had followed the letter of the law and had even sought the assistance of the Barbados representative to Canada who, after reviewing their plight, contacted Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson but “the CJ has not acknowledged in any way that he has received the document”.    

“Is this the typical situation for poor Barbadians who have ventured to foreign territory to make better of themselves and reinvest into Barbados to meet such hurdles?” Drakes questioned.

“My frustration is the legal system. We have applied ourselves, we followed the law and our legal advisors and we cannot seem to make progress and it is sitting somewhere between our attorney and the court because the judge is never there. We cannot seem to get a continuance of hearing,”
he lamented.

Drakes has appealed to the authorities, including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to intervene, saying the situation did not bode well for the island.

“Barbados continues to ask for foreign investment to be here. This is something that they need to fix. I personally cannot continue to encourage any of my partners or associates to invest in Barbados if this small [issue] cannot be resolved and the person who has the money is being taken to the cleaners.

“I would like to have back my house. I would like to be refunded all the expenses that we have incurred in travelling back and forth which is out of our control [and] which is as a result of the procrastination of the legal system. We want them evicted immediately.” 

20 Responses to ‘I want my house back!’

  1. Tony Webster December 5, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Hard to believe, and even should one do so, to retain any shred of faith, in our judicial system. One tough lesson to be learned, is the huge risks involved in “playing lawyer”. If the contractor had taken a full mortgage at the outset, what apparently started and wrong, would have started…and ended…right.

    Always get an experienced Attorney at Law-with a confirmed track-record; be careful of one-attorney firms, but lean unto one with a cadre of serious folks…just to spread the risk! Avoid any Shylocks: I can recommend a couple of Mirandas…who do wonderful things with any legal matters that disturb my tranquility.

  2. Ben Haynes PsyD December 5, 2015 at 8:15 am

    And to think that this man is not alone. Many native Barbadians are experiencing the same problems by our legal system, and nothing good seems forthcoming. Where does the power lies here? Well, we can either say that the system is fragmented to the point that these people in power don’t know what the hell they are doing or, the system is plainly corrupt. To see clearly that they go after the small man for little things, as well as trying to build a decent life for later years. Yet we cannot fix a simple thing as what this man is going through. We have to ask, is it really a problem or, are the powers maybe getting their pockets lined? What a shame to treat people like this. The many stories coming out of Barbados are not in the small man’s behalf, and are therefore punishing them rather than helping them. If this is not corruption then prove it is not. Someone is making lots of money on the backs of citizens.

  3. Alex Alleyne December 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

    If the court was serious about this matter , a conversation with all parties can be done by “phone” without you having to travel to Barbados and burn more money.
    In the “real world” this is being done on a daily basis.
    Maybe its time for the CCJ.

  4. Donna December 5, 2015 at 8:24 am

    He’s not the only one waiting. Barbados has NO Justice System only an Injustice System.

  5. Coralita December 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Take it to the Caribbean Court of Justice, if they could give Myrie money for no good reason; SURELY, they could get your house back.

  6. Darcy Lord December 5, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Barbados will be celebrating 50 years of independence next year.
    If the country was still a British colony the present state of the legal system would not be tolerated by the Governor and the
    Foreign Office. Independence has ruined the legal system , the
    civil service and any institution managed by Government.
    The British Governor would not tolerate a Judge who took
    five years to write a judgment.
    One must conclude that since 1966 Barbadians have been
    unable to manage their affairs. The present Government
    is a prime example of that inability.

  7. dave December 5, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Darcy Lord ! you echo my sentiments exactly
    In my opinion Independence is bare FOOLISHNESS -and should not have happened. I heard a lot of old people criticizing Independence and Errol Barrow about the Independence thing. Now I understand why. We always change because we can and nothing improves as a result of a lot of those changes. Change for what and to what ??? Question of the Millennium -asked by Owen Seymour Arthur. We should still be under Britain . I support that 200 %. It would have been better. I think that we should renounce INDEPENDENCE.

  8. jrsmith December 5, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Hail, Hail , to all who have so far commented, my take , I had an issue , with a house problem , In Barbados, after a while , I took issue, that my Attorney, was friends with the daughter of the opposition, and a lot of underhand, dealing was going on, I refuse to pay my Attorney one penny , challenging him to take me to court , what he didn’t realize, I paid a good private detective to gather some dirty information on him and the opposing party Attorney, after a shouting match all the way from London. threating him I would take all the info to the paper an issue, which was ongoing for 3 and a half years, was cleared up ten days later, the moral , trust no one , especially you know who.

    Sorry for Mr, Drakes, why his attorney, is not talking CCJ.
    Dave a good shot , renouncing Independence.
    Darcy , some good shots, high feeling in bim.
    Coralita, another good shot.
    Donna, a good shot.
    Alex , a good shot.
    Ben, massive shots.
    Tony , good shots.
    When the British , give us independence, we were left ,with a very good political structure, something to build on , in return ,look at the mess in barbados (TTB )and the region.

  9. John December 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    This proves that Barbados is still living in the old age. The Government tool over our property in Rock Hall St. THOMAS. Demolished the house I grew up in and turned the area into a parking lot. Ten years later and we are still awaiting a settlement. I will never return to Barbados live or encourage anyone I know to invest in Barbados. The laws are to antiquated.

  10. HardBall December 5, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    @ Darcy and Dave, what nonsense are you both speaking?
    Why would you want to stay loyal to an Empire that enslaved and profited from the blood, sweat and tears of Bajans for centuries?

    Just a few months ago, David Cameron told the Caribbean people to forget getting reparations from Brittian.

  11. Susie December 5, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Seems from reading this that the problem on the last occasion was the absence of a judge. Surely there must be a system in place if a judge is going to be out for a few days that the parties in those cases will be informed before hand. I wonder if Mr Drakes consulted a lawyer before entering such a strange arrangement with the home owners. Should have been a red flag to him that financing was a problem at the beginning of the arrangement. More here than meets the eye.

  12. Donild Trimp December 5, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Wait a minute folks, I have to take a second look at this story. Something does not seem right to me.

    First lawyer a problem. No red flags here. People change lawyers all the time for a myriad of reasons.

    Second lawyer a problem. A little worrying but still not out of the ordinary to be overly concerned.

    Third lawyer a problem. Red flags, red flags, red flags. This is not normal so something tells me this story is not 100% on the up and up.

    “Drakes put up his house as collateral and took a loan to build the dwelling for the couple,” which builder on planet earth does something like this?

    I ain’t buying this story at all.

  13. Peter Peter December 5, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    When Sir Marston became Chief Justice Barbadians were hopeful that the legal system would improve but our hopes were dash against the rocks. The legal system has gotten worst under him this slide started since the retirement of Sir William Duglas, heaven help us
    Good luck Mr Drakes

  14. Donild Trimp December 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Peter, you see this as a Chief Justice problem or as a problem with the legal system in Barbados?

    Please let everyone know if you believe the following statement makes sense. “Drakes put up his house as collateral and took a loan to build the dwelling for the couple,”

    Which contractor does something so foolish? Don’t you think there is more to this story?

  15. Tyrone December 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Mr. Trimp, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, that the putting up his personal house for collateral is a risky thing, BUT when you invest FOREIGN MONEY into your NATIVE LAND which is, as stated, agreed between the payee and the payer which also is legally documented, means that there should have fair legal proceedings, which in this particular case that you are pointing out, has not once been taken in to fair trial…that’s my first point.

    Second, many have commented in this thread about VERY similar instances that they have suffered from the same treatment from the same government that has done absolutely nothing to regulate this circumstance, furthermore the dozen others that have been mentioned here.

    Third, you still have failed to acknowledge the negligence of the government and the failing of the judicial system whereas for so many years not one date in court where the court followed through with their appointments.

    Now, Sir, based on your comments of the decision of the contractor as “foolish”, I would like to know your comments, based on the information provided, what you think of what the judicial side of things?

    • Donild Trimp December 7, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Tyrone, I am not defending the judicial system at all. I am contending that there is more to this story than meets the eye.

      That is all I am saying.

    • Donild Trimp December 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Tyrone, here is the problem I am having with this story.

      The contractor resides in Canada, the clients in the UK. Did the clients signed these so called legal documents (contracts) in Barbados?

      I have bought and sold a number of homes to date. It is hard to see someone taking possession of my home and moving into it without my approval.

      Did the couple forge documents to take possession of his house and move in without his approval? Another thing, why would I put myself $750,000 in the hole over a $275,000 house?

      To reference the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice and the Attorney General of Barbados in this matter is laughable.

  16. Donna December 7, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Obviously there is more to this story but there are others I know personally with very straightforward cases who have waited even longer than this man with increasing despair that anything will ever be done.

  17. Maureen Smith December 7, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    In the absence of the FULL background to this story, there are many questions for which I would love to know the answers, but three stand out right now. Firstly, why was a building project commenced without ALL parties knowing BEFOREHAND how it was to be financed? Secondly, did Mr Drakes’ seek legal advice on how to protect his financial investment in a property that would be built by him but occupied by others? If so, what advice was he given, and if not, then he should have. Thirdly, Why does Barbados insist on overseas litigants having to travel to the island for court cases, especially when these are oftentimes adjourned at very short notice, including the morning of the hearing.

    It is absolutely ridiculous and shameful that the legal system in Barbados continues to be both inefficient and poorly managed. As a result, changes need to be introduced yesterday that will create a highly efficient and well-managed legal system on the island. This includes de-robing/barring of individual attorneys and/or judges who are a total disgrace to their profession.

    As for Mr Drakes, if the account of his story is as stated above, then let us hope that exposure will work in your favour to achieve a satisfactory result.

  18. Mr. Sinclair December 9, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    My sympathy goes out to Mr. Drakes, for eleven years he has been going back and forth from Canada to Barbados without any kind of judicial attention.
    Even if he made mistakes in his business transactions the case was deemed admissible for litigation and accepted as such and should therefore been given respect.
    They are many Barbadians living abroad especially in England, Canada and the USA that had to abandon their cases because of last minute adjournment and interventions by the court without notifying the litigants.
    How can we abroad have confidence in our country judicial system?
    How can we sell its impartial reputation to potential foreign investors when we as Barbadians cannot be assured that such reliability and impartiality is deny us?


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