Re John Christie, Deceased. Christie v Christie

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeM. R.
Judgment Date14 June 1916
CourtChancery Division (Ireland)
Docket Number(1915. No. 777.)
Date14 June 1916

In re John Christie, Deceased.

Christie
and
Christie.

M. R.

(1915. No. 777.)

CASES

DETERMINED BY

THE CHANCERY DIVISION

OF

THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE IN IRELAND

AND BY

THE IRISH LAND COMMISSION,

AND ON APPEAL THEREFROM IN

THE COURT OF APPEAL.

1917.

Statute of Limitations — Intestacy — Next-of-Kin in Possession — Other Next-of-Kin out of Possession for more than Twelve Years — Joint Tenancy in Acquired Shares — Partnership — Partnership Act, 1890 (53 & 54 Vict. c. 39), s. 20, sub-s. 3 — Partners as to Profits — Purchase of other Land out of Profits made by use of Land held in Co-ownership — Tenancy in Common of Purchased Lands.

Two of the next-of-kin of the yearly tenant of a farm, who died intestate, acquired a title under the Statute of Limitations to the shares of the other next-of-kin. They worked the farm together, and treated the profits as divisible equally between them. They subsequently purchased four other farms with the profits made out of the original farm, and worked them in the same way. Two of the farms were purchased before the Partnership Act, 1890, came into operation, and two after that date. All the farms were bought out under the Land Purchase Acts, and were registered subject to equities, four in the name of one, and one in the joint names of the two. On the death of one intestate the survivor took out administration to him. An action was afterwards brought to administer his estate by one of his next-of-kin. A question arose in the administration, viz., whether the farms were held by the two as tenants in common, or as joint tenants.

Held (1), that the original farm was held as to the original shares of the two next-of-kin by the plaintiff and the defendant as tenants in common, and as to the acquired shares by them as joint tenants.

Smith v. Savage, [1906] 1 I. R. 469, followed.

(2) That the farms purchased with the profits of the original farm were held by the plaintiff and the defendant as tenants in common, and that sect. 20 of the Partnership Act, 1890, did not apply.

Adjourned Memorandum.

This was an action to administer the personal estate of John Christie. The plaintiff William Christie, the defendant Joseph Christie, and the deceased Joseph Christie were brothers. The plaintiff sued as one of the next-of-kin of John Christie, and the defendant Joseph Christie was his administrator. The facts of the case, as stated in the judgment of O'Connor M.R., were as follows:—

“This case came before the Court on a memorandum lodged by the plaintiff for the purpose of determining whether Joseph Christie, the defendant, was a joint tenant or a tenant in common with his deceased brother, John Christie, of certain farms of lands, or whether he was a joint tenant of certain shares in the lands, and a tenant in common of other shares therein.

The facts are these:—Joseph Christie the elder died some forty years ago intestate, leaving his widow and five children surviving. The five children were John Christie (the deceased in the present matter), William Christie (the plaintiff), Joseph Christie (the defendant), and Jane Christie, who married a man named Taylor.

Joseph Christie, senior, was at his death the tenant from year to year of a farm in the townland of Ballyportery South, barony of Upper Dunluce, County Antrim. Letters of administration to his estate were not taken out; but if the estate had been duly administered, the farm would, subject to the payment of debts and testamentary expenses, have devolved on the widow and children in the proportion of one-third for the widow and one-fifth of two-thirds for each of the children.

Previous to the father's death William Christie had emigrated. The remaining members of the family continued to live on the farm, and, as the law has been settled, the widow and children were tenants in common of the farm in the shares I have mentioned.

Over thirty years ago the son James left the parental homestead, having got married and set up in a farm of his own. There is no legal evidence that his claim on his father's assets was satisfied; but he never afterwards made any claim against the parental farm, and any title he had became barred by time.

The daughter, Jane Christie, also got married over thirty years ago. It is stated that on her marriage she got her share of her father's assets. It is more than likely that she received something equivalent to her share. In any case, her claim also became barred by time.

This left the widow of Joseph Christie, senior, and his two sons, John, the deceased in this matter, and Joseph, the defendant, the sole occupiers of the farm.

In the course of time the widow died, leaving John and Joseph in sole possession, and they during their joint lives became the sole owners of the entire farm as to some shares as next-of-kin of their father and their mother, as to other shares possibly as purchasers, but, so far as the evidence goes, under the Statute of Limitations. At any rate, they became the sole owners, and there was no person could disturb their possession. They worked the farm together, they lived together, supported themselves out of the profits, and they treated the profits as equally divisible between them; but there never was any actual division of profits or any accounts kept. John was the more active man. He bought and sold the stock and produce. Joseph looked after the domestic concerns.

They appear to have spent very little, because they accumulated profits, and out of the profits four other farms were purchased. Three of these were purchased in the name of John, and were conveyed to him solely, and one was conveyed to John and Joseph jointly.

Nothing turns on the forms of the conveyances, the only question being whether in equity the brothers were joint tenants or tenants in common.

This is the state of affairs that had been constituted at the death of John Christie, which occurred on the 16th December, 1913. The defendant, Joseph Christie, took out a grant of letters of administration to his estate, and William, who is the brother who emigrated during his father's life, instituted the present action for the administration of the personal estate of John Christie.”

The following additional facts are taken from the affidavits filed in the action. An order for administration was made on November 5th, 1915, and the usual accounts and inquiries were directed.

The question arose before the Chief Clerk as to what was the share of the deceased, John Christie, in the farms; and on February 15th, 1916, a memorandum was lodged on behalf of the plaintiff, requesting a declaration by the judge at chambers as follows:—

1. That upon the facts set forth in the several affidavits, filed on behalf of the plaintiff and of the defendant, respectively, in this action, the above-named deceased and the defendant should be deemed not to have been joint tenants at the death of the said deceased of any of the lands referred to in the first schedule to the affidavit of the defendant, verifying account “A,” or of any portion of the said lands, but to have been tenants in common in equal shares of all the said lands.

2. That one undivided moiety of all the said lands forms-portion of the estate of the said deceased.

When the memorandum came on for hearing, it was adjourned into Court.

The lands referred to in the first schedule of the said affidavit, which was filed on January 1st, 1916, were as follows:—

1. The original farm, which had belonged to Joseph Christie, the elder, in Ballyportery South, containing 34a. 3r. 15p., vested in John Christie by order of the Irish Land Commission, dated April 25th, 1894, and subject to an annuity of £13 12s., since reduced to £10 19s. 6d., payable to the Irish Land Commission for forty-nine years from November 1st, 1893, and registered on May 1st, 1894, under the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891, in the name of John Christie, subject to equities.

2. Part of the lands of Mount Hamilton, containing 37a. 1r. 10p. This farm was bought in 1883 from R. Campbell, the then tenant, by John Christie, and bought out by him in 1905, subject to a like annuity of £4 9s. 6d., and registered in his name on March 31st, 1905, in like manner, subject to equities.

3. A farm in Ballyportery North, containing 31a. 3r. 20p. John Christie purchased the tenant's interest in this farm about the year 1887, and bought it out in 1894, subject to a like annuity of £12 19s. 2d., and registered in his name on May 1st, 1894, subject to equities.

4. A farm in Ballyportery South, containing 31a. 2r. 3p., comprised in a Vesting Order of the Irish Land Commission, dated July 20th, 1894, subject to a like annuity of £15 1s. 8d., and registered on July 30th, 1894, subject to equities. On March 7th. 1909, John Christie bought this farm at an auction from David Coleman. It was conveyed to John Christie and Joseph Christie, and registered in their joint names, subject to equities, instead of in the name of John only, because part of the purchase-money was to be secured by a mortgage, and the personal security of the two was required.

5. A farm in Ballyportery South, containing 11a. and 5p., comprised in a Vesting Order of the Irish Land Commission, subject to an annuity of £4 1s. 8d., and registered under the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891, subject to equities, and afterwards bought by John Christie, and registered in his name on April 27th, 1898.

The defendant in the schedule of assets sworn by him when applying for a grant of administration to John Christie stated that John Christie owned only one half of the interest in each of the farms, he and John Christie being tenants in common of them. When an offer to settle was refused by the plaintiff, the defendant stood on his rights and made the present claim. The only evidence as to the history of the original farm was contained in the affidavit of the defendant filed November 1st, 1915. He then stated that his brother James Christie married over...

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