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‘I’m fighting for my children, not for me’

Legal blow: Elaine Charles at home recently (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A senior has been dealt another blow in her legal effort to halt the sale of a family home.

Elaine Charles had applied to stay the court-ordered sale of a cottage left to her by her mother, to pay legal fees over a longstanding family dispute over another house.

But Puisne Judge Shade Subair dismissed the application yesterday after she found she did not have the power to reverse the order.

She added: “I appreciate that you are emotional and upset, but unfortunately the relief you ask for this morning is not the appropriate relief that this court can grant you.”

Ms Charles said afterwards that she felt the legal system had let her down, but that she would continue to fight for the sake of her children.

She said: “I’m tired of fighting and that’s why people give up. But I’m fighting for my children, not for me.”

Ms Charles had earlier contested two wills drawn up for her father, which she claimed were executed while he suffered from dementia.

She faced massive legal bills after the Supreme Court ruled against her.

Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman, in a 2014 ruling, ordered a three-bedroom cottage to go up for auction to cover her $500,000 legal bills.

The judge suspended the sale of the condominium Ms Charles shares with her husband until after a complaint she made to the Bermuda Bar Council about her representation during the trial is heard.

Ms Charles filed a summons to the Supreme Court earlier this year to halt the sale of the cottage until the court could hear new evidence about her father’s will. But lawyers Paul Harshaw and Delroy Duncan, representing the executors of the two wills, asked for the summons to be dismissed.

Mrs Justice Subair ruled that she could not reverse the decision of Mr Justice Hellman, who had presided over the Supreme Court hearing.

She explained: “This is a matter that has been tried and tested. The court has given specific rulings with respect to enforcement.”

Ms Charles said: “I had hope. I thought that with the new evidence that the court would have taken it and said they would give me six months.

“But I am prepared to fight on.”

Ms Charles, who represented herself in court, said she hoped to find a lawyer to help her with the next steps, but the burden of her outstanding legal bills was still a problem.

Ms Charles launched her initial legal actions after the death of her father, John Howard Fubler Taylor in 2007.

She said her father took steps to convey the property to her in 1995 so that it could pass to his grandsons, but she asked him to hold off because she was involved in a divorce and did not want to complicate the proceedings.

Ms Charles assumed after Mr Taylor died, with dementia listed as one of the causes on his death certificate, that he had not left a will and that his assets would be distributed fairly by the courts.

She was unaware Mr Taylor had made a will in June 1999 in which he left his home “Fubler Villa” to the Masonic Abercorn Lodge of which he was a member.

Mr Taylor also made a second will in July 2002, this time leaving “Fubler Villa” to his son Albert Taylor for life, with the remainder interest to the two sons of his niece, Shirley Pearman.

Ms Pearman’s husband, Roderic Pearman, was executor of the second will, along with Iris Davis, a friend of Ms Charles’ father.

Ms Charles argued that her father was not of sound mind when he signed the wills.

Mr Justice Hellman ruled against her after he decided that the later will was “properly executed and appeared rational”.

However she has said her brother has since admitted in an affidavit that their father was “unduly influenced” into leaving his home to two distant relatives.