Sri Lanka Cancer Society wins 12-year-old case in District Court

After prolonged litigation over twelve years the Sri Lanka Cancer Society won its claim to a valuable property in Queens Road, Colombo 3. The case lasted for twelve years.

On the basis of the Last Will of George Alfred Hettiaratchi the title of this property passed on to the Sri Lanka Cancer Society subject to the reservation of Life interest in favour of his wife the 1st defendant.

This claim was contested by the widow of Mr. Hettiaratchi who alleged that she becomes entitled to the property concerned on the basis of an executors’ conveyance, she herself being the executor.

Subsequently she had sold the property for Rs.37 million to the 2nd Defendant International Distilleries Lanka Ltd.

Much of the dispute arose as the original of the Last Will was not produced by either party. Not even the protocol was available. The curious circumstance is that this protocol was the last in a bundle of documents in the lawyer’s office and over time it had got detached from the rest of the documents in that bundle.

The Photostat copy the protocol being the only copy available, the situation was ripe for prolonged controversy. Fortunately the Registrar of the District Court had made certain observations in his report to Court which clearly showed there was a beneficiary other than the Sri Lanka Cancer Society under the Last Will and therefore the widow (1st Defendant) could not be the sole beneficiary.

Thus the 1st defendant’s claim she was the sole successor to the estate of the deceased Mr. Hettiaratchi could not be sustained. In fact Court held the Deed in favour of the widow was fraudulent and that no right title or interest passed to her. This was the crux of the case.

Accordingly the widow’s claim was dismissed and judgment entered in favour of the Sri Lanka Cancer Society which thus becomes the owner of a valuable property on Queens Road the income of which will be utilized for the benefit of the Cancer Patients at the premises of the Sri Lanka Cancer Society at Maharagama which was the intention of the deceased Mr. George Alfred Hettiaractchi.

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