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A fraternal relationship which degenerated: after years of mutual assistance, a financial dispute between two sisters led to a judgment from the Supreme Court. The youngest will have to reimburse Rs 5 million to her eldest.

Being the eldest, Marie-Thérèse Santschy considered her youngest, Maria Quencina Martin, as her own child. However, this relationship gradually soured, leading to legal litigation brought before the Supreme Court. On June 11, 2024, Justice Karuna Devi Gunesh-Balaghee delivered her verdict in the case. She ruled that Maria Quencina Martin must reimburse her older sister the sum of 96,200 Swiss francs (Rs 5,013,182.12), as well as Rs 200,000 in damages.

The complaint, written by attorney Vashish Bhugoo on behalf of Marie-Thérèse Santschy, stated that she was demanding 96,200 Swiss francs (Rs 5,013,182.12) and Rs 1 million in damages from her younger sister, Maria Quencina. Martin, for damages suffered. The plaintiff was assisted by Mr. Samad Golamaully, while Maria Quencina Martin was represented by Mr. Gavin Glover, Senior Counsel, and Mr. Dev Boolaucky, attorney.

Initially very close, the two sisters, who now live in Switzerland, saw their relationship deteriorate. The eldest had often helped her younger sister, even going so far as to finance the latter's childbirth costs.

Disputes arose when Marie-Thérèse Santschy, owner of land in Bois-Pignolet, wanted to build a house there. She then sent money to her sister, residing in Baie-du-Tombeau, for this project. Maria Quencina Martin convinced her sister to sell this land and buy another in Baie-du-Tombeau to build the house.

No title deed

Between September 2001 and April 2009, several sums of money were transferred for the construction of the house. However, Maria Quencina Martin had made her sister believe that she had bought land and built a house in Baie-du-Tombeau in her name. She had never handed over the property title to her sister despite her numerous requests. It was only in 2007, during a vacation in Mauritius, that Marie-Thérèse Santschy discovered that the land and the house actually belonged to Maria Quencina, even though she had financed the project.

Despite this, Maria Quencina Martin had asked her sister to buy an elevation right on the house and half of the land in Baie-du-Tombeau, promising to give her money to build her house upstairs. She had accepted. But soon after, the younger sister asked her older sister to send her money, because she no longer had any to continue the work. The plaintiff then made several transfers, before realizing, in July 2007, that no construction had been undertaken.

Maria Quencina Martin had justified that 14,400 Swiss francs of the 96,200 came from her own work in Switzerland as a domestic servant.

In her judgment, Judge Karuna Devi Gunesh-Balaghee concluded that Marie-Thérèse Santschy's testimony was truthful, while that of Maria Quencina Martin lacked credibility. The judge also took into consideration the moral damage suffered by the complainant, who had required treatment and taken antidepressants for three years.

Consequently, the judge found it reasonable to award damages of Rs 200,000. Thus, Maria Quencina Martin was ordered to reimburse 96,200 Swiss francs and Rs 200,000 to Marie-Thérèse Santschy.

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