Katrina Smith was Selby’s spouse, CCJ rules

This Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has advised local judges to stop holding up cases in order to conclude interim appeals related to the same matter.

The Trinidad and Tobago-based CCJ declared its position today as it handed down its ruling in the case of Smith versus Selby, which clarified the definition of “cohabitant spouse”.

The CCJ, Barbados’ final appellate court which replaced the British Privy Council, “dissuaded the use of this practice except in circumstances where it was necessary after a full consideration of the relevant factors”, the regional court said in a release.

In its ruling, the CCJ held that Katrina Smith should be considered the spouse of her late partner, Albert Michael Selby.

The court found that based on the definition of spouse under Barbados’ Succession Act, a single woman who has cohabited for the statutory period of five years immediately preceding the death of her cohabitant partner has the right to inherit from him on his death, provided he was a single man.

The matter, which was filed at the CCJ in March, centred on the interpretation of the Succession Act which states: “For the purposes of this Act, reference to a ‘spouse’ includes a single woman who was living together with a single man as his wife for a period of not less than five years immediately preceding the date of his death.”

The CCJ examined the legislative regime that existed prior to the Act and noted that before its enactment, the law excluded the survivor of a cohabitational relationship from benefiting on the death of the partner who had not left a will.

Smith and Selby had been living together from 2002 until Selby’s death in 2008.

Selby had no children, was predeceased by his parents, and survived by his siblings, including the respondent Albert Anthony Selby.

In coming to its decision the regional court set aside the earlier ruling of the Barbados Court of Appeal and all orders for costs from the courts below.

The CCJ declared that Smith was the spouse of the deceased and ordered Anthony Selby to pay $20,000 in costs.

The final appellate court said the nine years that elapsed since Selby’s death was inconsistent with the overriding objective to resolve disputes justly and expeditiously, and that delay inevitably caused distress as no one had been appointed to administer the dead man’s estate.

As a result, the CCJ sought to give a ruling as speedily as possible, considering the matter had been filed at the court in March this year.

Commenting on the ruling, one of this country’s well-respected lawyers explained that more often than not, interim appeals are mere applications of convenience and had no real effect on the outcome of the case, either in fact or in law.

The attorney said an application for an interim injunction was one such legal tool, admitting that some lawyer resorted to this practice because they knew it would delay the substantive matter before the court and generally frustrate the efforts of the other party.

Some of the more high profile cases currently held up by way of interim appeals include the US$100 million Hyatt Centric Resort which is proposed to be built at Bay Street, The City and the appeal against the freezing of the $2.5 million assets of former CLICO Holdings executive chairman Leroy Parris.


10 Responses to Katrina Smith was Selby’s spouse, CCJ rules

  1. Alex Alleyne September 2, 2017 at 9:42 am


    • leroy September 2, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Because bds is a small society where the well-with-all have a cosy close knit space with the politicians,judges,doctors and other high flyers, having a court based outside bds has more good to offer than bad.
      In this case, without CCJ,,Smith would have been bullied and frustrated to submission or death whichever came first, Selby should have had the presence of mind to update his will, simple.

  2. Tony Webster September 2, 2017 at 9:54 am

    @Alex: The answer to your question, lies in my little book of African proverbs, and might possibly apply directly to you: ” The higher monkey climb, the better you see his *ss”.

    BTW, Barbados was one of the first amongst CARICOM states, freely of its own will, to join the C.C.J.

    Please climb back down, Sir….

  3. Alex Alleyne September 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    @Tony, I don’t usually respond , But are we on the same page on this one?.
    If BDS was the FIRST to join the CCJ , which is correct, and the LAW say “once you live together for more than 5 years, you are ONE. Then why will you take the matter else where to be told the same thing.
    Maybe I am missing something here……If so, I BOW to you.
    Will politely let you have the LAST WORD.

    • leroy September 2, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      @Alex, getting justice in bds is a matter of social class and $, getting justice at ccj involves $ but requires no class acceptance.

  4. Natasha September 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    It is my understanding that Mr. Selby was still legally married. Where is his wife in all of this? Is she entitled to anything?

  5. leroy September 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Just goes to show if you have status or $ you can pervert justice,,however the ccj is the great equalizer.
    I love the ccj!!!!!

  6. Greengiant September 2, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I was awarded some judgement in the supreme court here almost two years ago, and the respondent’s counsel has filed an interim appeal as well. It’s approaching two years and i’m still waiting. He’s the owner of a real estate and investment company.

  7. Tony Waterman September 4, 2017 at 1:34 am

    “Katrina Smith was Selby’s spouse, CCJ rules”

    So does the LAWS of Barbados, can’t Understand how out High Court could have ruled any differently, that has been the Law of Barbados for EONS (5 Years live together) Perhaps they ruled as they did because they wanted to set a precident, in case they were caught up in the same thing (only surmising)

  8. Sue Donym September 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Hi @Natasha and @Tony Waterman @Alex Alleyne, it’s not quite so clear to everyone as:
    – Mr Selby was not legally married to the former spouse at the time of death
    – Mr Selby, although living with Ms Smith for longer than the 5 years, had been granted his final divorce for a period of less than 5 years.
    – Mr Selby’s brother had challenged Ms Smith’s right to be regarded as a spouse and therefore her claim to spousal right to inherit.
    – The appeal was taken to CCJ by Ms Smith’s legal team as she was dissatisfied with the local court ruling that would have seen her barred from inheriting from Mr Selby’s estate and having other spousal entitlement.

    Hope this helps.


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