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Present: Wood Renton J.******POUL1ER v. PUBLIC SERVICE MUTUAL PROVIDENTASSOCIATION.236—C. I?. Colombo, &MI9.
Public Service Mutual Provident AssostaUon—Ordinance, No. 5 of 1891.s. 14 (rule 8)—Legally consUttded heirs—Next of kin.
Rule 8made tindersection14 ofOrdinanceNo.aof 1891
contemplates the determinationofwho are amember’s“ legally
constitutedheirs ” and” nextofkin ” accordingtothelaw to
which he is* subject.
“ As the primary object oftheassociation isto makeprovision
for widows and children, it is not surprising that a special order fordistribution should be established in their case, while the rights ofthe other relatives arc left to be determined by the ordinary law ofsuccession.”
Rule 11ptv tects the association only againsttheconsequences
of payments mane in error to wrong persons, or of other bona fidemistakes of fact.
HE L ^tsare fully set outinthejudgmentofthelearned
Commissioner of Requests (R. N. Tha-ine, Esq.): —The facts in this case are these. One D. E. Poulie'r, who was amember of the Public ServiceMutualProvident Association,died in
October,1909,with thesum of Rs. 1,016.76to hiscredit in thebooks
of the association. He left no issue, and his heirs were his full brothersor their children, his half brothers or sisters and their children.
Shortly afterhis death the plaintiff, one ofhisfullbrothers,wrote to
the secretary of the association and gave him a statement showing thenames of the heirs, brothers andhalfbrothers, &e.The objectof the
statement wasto assistthe association*4 inarrivingat a correctdistri-bution of theamount standing to the creditofthedeceasedmember.”
The defendantassociation admits havingreceivedtheseparticulars,
but the committee of management, when they came to distribute . theavailable sum amongst the heirs,ignoredthe information giventothem
by the plaintiff, and decided to treat the heirs, whether full or halfbrothers and sisters, as each- entitled to an equal share of the sum.
The plaintiffcontends that this distributioniswrong,and not
according to law. He says he * is entitled to one-third of one-half pinsone-seventh of one-half, accordingto theprovisions of section 31ofOrdi-
nance No. -15 of 1876, by which calculation he will receive a much largeramountthan thatapportioned to him bytheassociation. When the
plaintiffdemanded thisamount fromthedefendantthrough hislegal
adviser?, the defendant association denied its liability to pay, on thegroundsthatpaymentsaccording totheirscheme'of distribution had
alreadybeenmade. They plead the benefitandprotection of rules 8
and 11 of the rules made undersection14 of Ordinance No. 5of1891t
which is the Ordinance relating to this association.
5J. N. A 99413 (8/50)
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Buie 8 sets out the persons to whom money lying to the credit of adeceased member istobe paid. Rule11declared as follows: “ When-ever the committeeofmanagement, afterthe decease of any member,
makes any paymentunder rules 8 and9to any person or persons who
at the time appeartothe committeetobe entitled to the same, snch
payment shall be valid and effectual against any demand made uponthe association or committee by any other person or persons."
Now, to entitle them to the protection of this rule, it seems to me therassociation must show that they have strictly complied with the provi-sions of rule 8. It is strictly laid down in rule 11 that only if payments-are made to persons " who appear to the committee to be entitled tothe same " will tlie association be able to claim the protection of thisrule.
Therefore, the question first to consider is whether the distributionsanctioned by the committee is in accordance with rule 8. The portionof this rule which has to be applied in the present distribution is thefollowing, viz., " failing widow and children, the amount shall be . paidto his legally constituted heirs, and in. the case of an intestate to hisnominee or nominees or to the next of kiu, or into Court to the credit ofhis estate.”
The deceasedwas an intestate—hehadnowifeor children—he left
no nominee, and therefore the amount was payable to his next of kin orinto Court to the credit of his estate.
Counsel for defendant argued that the payments were properly madetothe “ next ofkin," who include the relations nearestinproximityof
•blood, whether of the whole or half blood (Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary,under “ next ofkin "), butclearly next ofkiniu amatter ofthis kind
has not that vague general sense. The same dictionary fromwhich
counsel cited this definitionstates that” wherethereis expressreference
tothe statutorydistributions (or where such referenceis implied,or
■where referenceis made tointestacy),orthe.phrase ‘next ofkin' is
coloured by association with ‘ hiers,’ then the statutory next, of kin are■entitled.”
From this explanation it is clear, after carefully reading rule- 8, that .-next ofkinmeans thenext of kin accordingto law. The lawin Ceylon
in regard to inheritance is that enacted in Ordinance No. 15 of – 1876, andunder section 31 of thisOrdinance half brothers and sisters are not
•entitled to an equal shareof theinheritancewith thefulibrothers.
Further,the words " intoCourt tothecredit of his estate” clearly
implythatthe committee mustdistribute-themoney according tothe
law of the land.
Thesewords presuppose the necessity ofadministration ofthe pro:
.pertyof the deceasedif it should happen toexceed Bs.1,000in value,
and imposeupon theassociation the dutyof paying the money into
■Courtforcorrect distributionaccordingtolaw. The committeeor
■association cannot excuse themselves on the ground of ignorance of thelaw. Itis clear beyond any doubtthattheassociationhasmade a
mistakeinsanctioningthe distribution thatwas made, andconsidering
■the fact that the committeehad alltheparticulars beforethem at the
timethey made thedistribution, I do notthink thattheycan take
-shelter under the provisions of rule 11. It cannot be said that the heirs" appeared ’’ to be entitled to the sum they apportioned. There was
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pcoqf before them ofthe names and relationships ofthe heirs,andinthe1911.
light of these facts,assuming, as one must, theirknowledgeof thelaw,
they were bound tomake the distribution in the manner setoutbythePublic'
it is not a subtlelegal point which the plaintiffis raising.Heisonly
claiming his legal share, to which by law he is fully entitled, and clearly Associationthe terms of rule 8 provide for the distribution amongst the heirB of theirlegal share. The Ordinance relatingto the association doesnotand
was never intended to over-ride thelaw of inheritance wherethelaw
of inheritance is applicable. Buie 8makesit clear that thelawof
inheritance is applicableinthe circumstances ofthepresent case.It
appears to me that thedefendant associationhasbeen guiltyof
negligence in making thisdistribution, and I thinktheyare liable topay
the plaintiff the sum heisentitled to both ' by law and according tothe
rules of the association^
I give judgment for plaintiff for Bs. 249.28, with costs.
The defendant appealed.
Bawa (with him van Langenberg), for the appellant.
Samarawickrama, for the respondent.
Cur. adv. vult..
August 1, 1911. Wood Renton J.—
The learned Commissioner of Requests has written, if I may sayso, a very careful and well-reasoned judgment in this case, and asI agree with the conclusions at which he has arrived, I propose to-deal only with a few points pressed upon me in appeal, and withthese very briefly.
Mr. Bawa argued that to interpret rule 8 of the rules of the appel-lant association as the Commissioner of Requests has done would beto impose upon it a burden that the rule in question could neverhave contemplated, namely, that of ascertaining the exact law ofinheritance applicable to each member on whose behalf a claim onits funds might be made, and further, that in its provisions in regardto widows and children rule 8 has established a law of inheritance ofits own. For the reasons given by the learned Commissioner ofRequests, to- which I have nothing to add, I think that rule 8 clearlycontemplates the determination of who are a member s legallyconstituted heirs. ” and “ next of kin ” according to the law to whichhe is subject. I am unable to see that there is any great difficulty inthe ascertainment of that law by the appellant association when the-necessity for doing so arises. As the primary object of the associa-tion is to make provision for widows and children, it is not surprisingthat a special order for distribution should be established in theircase, while the rights of other relatives are left to- he determined bythe ordinary law of succession. So much for rule 8. Rule 11 seemsto me to protect the appellant association only against the conse-quences of payments made in error to wrong persons, or of other
bona fide mistakes of fact. The use of the words “ any demand byany other person or persons ” in the latter part of the rule seems tome very strongly to support this conclusion.
No question was raised in the Court of Bequests as to the adminis-tration of the intestate’s estate being necessary, and I do not thinkthat the point can be entertained now.
On these grounds, I dismiss the appeal with costs.
POULIER v. PUBLIC SERVICE MUTUAL PROVIDENT ASSOCIATION