Home Information Cases Karnail Singh Sandhar v (1) Sandhar & Kang LTD (2008)

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Karnail Singh Sandhar v (1) Sandhar & Kang LTD (2008)

Summary

Where the claimant's assertion that he retained a beneficial interest in property was a fairly fantastic one, and unsupported by evidence or the actions of any of the parties involved, the judge had been entitled summarily to dismiss a claim for declaratory relief in those terms.

Facts

The appellant (S) appealed against a decision of a judge granting summary judgment in favour of the first respondent company (C) and the second to fourth respondents (K) in S's claim for declaratory relief. S and K, who had all been partners in a food wholesale business, had acquired a property which was held by the partnership. The partnership was subsequently dissolved and taken over by the newly-incorporated C, to whom the property was transferred. S then fell out with the other parties and left C under a settlement agreement by which S was paid for the value of his shares in C. C later entered into negotiations to sell the property, and S initiated proceedings seeking a declaration that he had a beneficial interest in the property. It was S's contention that the settlement agreement had not included the value of his share in the property, that his signature on the document transferring the property from him and K to C had been a forgery, and that it had been expressly agreed that the property would continue to be held separately. C and K denied S's claim for a remaining beneficial interest in the property, contending that S and K held the property as trustees for C. They applied for summary judgment. The judge had before him a series of documents which showed that S and K had regarded the property as C's property, and although S produced a report from a purported handwriting expert which stated that a number of transfer documents contained S's fraudulent signature, some of those signatures had been witnessed by a number of independent people. The judge concluded that S had no real prospect of success in obtaining the declaration sought, and granted summary judgment in C and K's favour. S contended that the judge had applied the wrong standard for a summary judgment application, that he had ignored evidence that needed to be tested at trial, and that he should have let the matter proceed to trial as the serious issue of forgery had been raised.

Held

In all the circumstances, S's contention that he retained a beneficial interest in the property was a fairly fantastic assertion. If S had continued to own a quarter-interest in the property, as he contended, no provision had been made for him to receive any rental income from it, and it was unclear when, if ever, he would receive his share in it. S's case simply did not add up. The documents provided all pointed to the conclusion that the property had been C's property. Further, if the handwriting expert's evidence was accepted, that would imply that not only K but a number of other witnesses had also been involved in the dishonesty. In any event, the judge had not needed to consider the forgery question in the light of the prior material which led to the inevitable conclusion that the property belonged to C beneficially. No action by any of the parties had been consistent with any other conclusion, and the judge had been entitled to reach the decision that he had.

Court of Appeal
Laws LJ, Rix LJ, Jacob LJ
Judgment date
14 February 2008
References

LTL 14/2/2008