Bellew v Bellew

CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1983
Neutral Citation1982 WJSC-SC 194
Docket Number(181/1981),[1978 No. 6406P]
Date01 January 1983

1982 WJSC-SC 194


O'Higgins C.J.

Griffin J.

Hederman J.


JUDGMENT delivered on the 21st day of April 1982by O'HIGGINS C.J.


The Plaintiff/Appellant herein brought proceedings in the High Court against the two Defendants seeking a declaration that he was tenant for life of Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Co. Louth, and the farmlands ancillary thereto subject only to the yearly tenancy of the first-named Defendant in Barmeath Castle. The first-named Defendant was the Plaintiff's father. He will hereinafter be referred to as the father. He has died since the hearing of these proceedings in the High Court but his interests are fully represented by the second-named Defendant. The second-named Defendant is the Plaintiff's son. He will hereinafter be referred to as the grandson. The Defendants filed a joint Defence to the Plaintiff's claim and contended that this claim and the Plaintiff's right or title to both Barmeath Castle and the farmlands had been barred and extinguished under and byvirtue of the Statute of Limitations 1957. Mr. Justice McWilliam, who tried the action in the High Court, dismissed the Plaintiff's claim, in so far as it related to the farmlands, but granted the declaration sought in relation to Barmeath Castle, subject to the yearly tenancy of the father. Against this decision the Plaintiff has brought thisappeal.


The legal issue which arises on this appeal is whether, as contended for by the Plaintiff/Appellant, on the evidence adduced at the trial, it can be said that the occupation of the farmlands associated with Barmeath Castle by the father from 1961 until 1978 was with the leave and licence of the Plaintiff. In order to consider this issue it is necessary to state at some length the facts as established by the evidence at thetrial.


Barmeath Castle has been in the possession of the Bellew family for some centuries. It comprises a mansion house with surrounding pleasure grounds and a farm containing some 300 acres of land. Prior to the 29th October 1953 the property was owned in fee simple by theFifth Lord Bellew who was a brother of the father and who, although married, was childless. This Lord Bellew did not reside at Barmeath Castle as his business interests kept him in London. He was, however, anxious that a member of the family would reside there and, accordingly, arranged with his brother (the father) who would succeed to the title after his death, to make the Castle his home. It was in these circumstances that the father, who later became the Sixth Lord Bellew, went to reside at Barmeath Castle in 1939. The then Lord Bellew continued to be owner but gave the father a yearly tenancy of the house, retaining, however, control of the farmland. The father made the Castle his permanent home and lived there with his wife. He was joined in 1949 by his son, the Plaintiff, who brought with him his wife and family, consisting of the grandson, a daughter and a younger son. The Plaintiff and his family lived at Barmeath as part of the household with the father, who had considerable means, meeting the cost of schooling and other expenses. The Plaintiff devoted his attention to the farm, and, with thefull approval of Lord Bellew, obviously intended to make Barmeath, after the death of his parents, his permanent home. Towards this end, the then Lord Bellew, in 1953, conveyed the entire of the property to the Plaintiff, subject to the existing tenancy of his brother in the Castle itself. From this on, the Plaintiff worked and managed the farm but lived in the Castle with his wife and family as part of the father's household. In 1960 the Plaintiff executed a deed of settlement whereby he settled the Castle and lands in the trust for himself for life with the remainder to his son, the grandson, in tail male with remainder over. This settlement was, of course, subject to the existing tenancy of the father in the Castle. Accordingly, following this settlement, the Plaintiff had a life estate in Barmeath Castle and the farmland. His father continued to have a yearly tenancy of the Castle itself and the ultimate remainder in the entire estate went to the grandson, the Plaintiff's son. This represented the position and rights of the different parties at the time of the event which led ultimately toinitiation of these proceedings.


It appears that since 1957 the Plaintiff had a relationship with another lady. This relationship continued over a number of years and by 1961 had created a situation which was impossible both for the Plaintiff's wife and for his father who thoroughly disapproved of the Plaintiff's conduct. By this time a considerable tension had built up in the household, but, despite this, the Plaintiff refused to terminate the affair. Finally, in the month of June 1961 the Plaintiff, after an unpleasant altercation with his wife, left Barmeath, quite suddenly, without notice to anyone, and has never in fact returned. In so doing he left behind him his wife and family, without having made any arrangements for their maintenance and without in any way providing or preparing for their future. In subsequent negotiations between the solicitors acting for the Plaintiff and the solicitors acting for the father, efforts were made to provide for the long-term management and running of the farm by the father and for provision for the Plaintiff's wife and family.The final proposal reached after many months and much correspondence was that a lease of the farm be executed in favour of the father and his wife, and subject thereto, for a conveyance of the Plaintiff's life estate to the grandson, the father agreeing to support the Plaintiff's wife and family. While these negotiations were in progress the Plaintiff, through his solicitors, authorised the father to farm the lands pending the conclusion of the negotiations. However, these negotiations broke down in July 1963 and were never resumed.


Following the breakdown of these negotiations all communication between the Plaintiff and those left behind in Bermeath ceased. The Plaintiff went to reside in England with the lady on whose account he left his wife and family. He proceeded to make out a new life for himself and when eventually qualified to do so, commenced in the English courts divorce proceedings. Meanwhile the father continued to look after and provide for the deserted wife and family, seeing to the children's education, at Eton for the boys, and, at boarding schoolsin Dublin and Paris, for the daughter. He also took over the running of the farm and continued to do so until the youngest son, the grandson, was able to assist in so doing. Eventually in December 1977 the father, who had become Lord Be low following the death of his brother, and the Plaintiff's wife, made a lease of the lands to the grandson for a term of twenty-one years from the 18th December 1977, and, in August 1978, joined with the Plaintiff's second son to make a supplementary lease for the same term on the basis, apparently that this son might have acquired some interest in the lands. The execution of these leases having come to the knowledge of the Plaintiff, he commenced these proceedings in November 1978 and, as already stated, claims a declaration that he had a life estate in the lands and that the Defendants have no interesttherein.


Before dealing with this claim and the issues raised in this appeal it is necessary to refer to one aspect of the facts to which I have made only a brief reference. This is to the authorisations given by the Plaintiff tothe father on two occasions to farm the lands at Barmeath. The first authorisation was contained in a letter dated the 30th June 1961 written immediately after the Plaintiff had left, by his then solicitors, to the father's solicitors. It is in the following terms:

"On behalf of Mr. J. B. Bellew we confirm that the Honourable Brian Bellew has our client's full authority to carry on all farming operations at Barmeath in such manner as he thinks fit and without being liable for any loss incurred in the carrying on all such operations. This authority will be valid until the 30th September by which time we hope a more permanent arrangement will be arrived at."


The second authorisation was contained in another letter from the same solicitors, dated the 5th December 1961 and was in the followingterms:

"........ we write on behalf of Mr. J. B. Bellew to confirm that the Honourable Brian Bellew has full authority to carry on all farming operations at Barmeath pending further negotiations, and in such manner as he thinks fit without being liable to Mr. J. B. Bellew for any loss incurred in the carrying on of such operations. It is understood, of course, that Mr. J. B. Bellow himself will not be liable to anyone for any such loss."


As already indicated, the negotiations continued until July 1963 when they ended without any agreement being reached. The ending of the negotiations, however, did not end the father's occupation and working of the farm lands. He continued to occupy and operate the farm as he had been doing and in fact so continued until his death.


It is apparent, from the foregoing recitation of the facts, that the initial occupation of the lands by the father was with the Plaintiff's consent or, at the very least, that such occupation was accepted and tolerated by him. There was very little he could do about it. He had walked out of Barmeath, abandoned his wife and family and left behind a large farm which had to be occupied and operated by somebody. As his original desire was, as appears from the correspondence, that in return for a tenancy of the farm his father would accept full responsibility for the support of his wife and family, it was to be expected that he would put his father into immediate occupation pending negotiations. It appears, however, that the father while...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Transcold Refrigeration Ltd -v- Cooltech Refrigeration (NI) Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Lands Tribunal (Northern Ireland)
    • 8 April 2022
    ...House Developments Ltd [1971] CH 17 • Lightcliffe District Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club v Walton [1977] 245 EG 393 CA • Bellew v Bellew [1982] IR 447 • London Hilton Jewellers v Hilton International Hotels [1990] 1 GLR 112 CA 15. And to the following texts: • Wylie Landlord and Tenant 3rd e......
  • Irish Shell Ltd v Costello Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 January 1985
    ...of Doyle J. (3/10/83) affirmed - (336, 369/83 - Supreme Court - 21/12/84). Irish Shell v. Costello Ltd. Citations: BELLEW V BELLEW 1982 IR 447 HESLOP V BURNS 1974 3 AER 406 IRISH SHELL V COSTELLO LTD 1981 ILRM 66 LANDLORD & TENANT (AMDT) ACT 1980 LANDLORD & TENANT (AMDT) ACT 1980 S29 LANDLO......
  • Moses v George
    • Trinidad & Tobago
    • High Court (Trinidad and Tobago)
    • 24 June 2011
    ...circumstances that the permission originally granted by the owner for the occupation of the license no longer applies [ Bellew v. Bellew [1982] IR 447]. [Adverse Possession, Stephen Jourdan, 2003, p. 590, para. 35-26] There is no evidence before the court that the Deceased sought to end the......
1 books & journal articles
  • The Law of Adverse Possession in Ireland: Is the Doctrine in Need of Radical Reform?
    • Ireland
    • Hibernian Law Journal No. 12-2013, January 2013
    • 1 January 2013
    ...1957), ss.50–60 32 De Londras, Principles of Irish Property Law 2nd edn (Dublin: Clarus Press, 2011), p.362 33 Ibid . 34 Bellew v Bellew [1982] I.R. 447 03 O'Sullivan 2.indd 46 11/06/2013 10:26 The Law of Adverse Possession in Ireland 47 is no adverse possession if the squatter has been giv......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT