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Mar 23, 2017

Will Titan Collect on Judgment for Damages over Raid?

Ron Knowles & Kelvin Leach

Bahamians Ron Knowles and Kelvin Leach were back in court today where a second round of litigation concluded this afternoon in an appeal filed by the Government of Belize.  The principals of the now defunct Titan International Securities were awarded almost nine million dollars in damages after it was determined that a raid on their offices at the Matalon Building in September 2014 was unlawful.  That decision was handed down by Justice Courtenay Abel in January of last year.  Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, on behalf of government, argued that while police may have been excessive in the seizure of documents and other office equipment during the swoop, the owners of the company need not be compensated, as their business has since folded.  In his submissions, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay made the case that his clients ought to be awarded damages on the basis that the raid was illegal; however, the issue, he says, is about the quantum.

 

Denys Barrow

Denys Barrow, Attorney for Government of Belize

“We relied on the fact that the effect of the government’s, the order from the International Financial Services Commission which suspended the license.  That suspension was never lifted and the government’s case was therefore, from the time that suspension was issued, the businesses were dead or the business was dead.  Therefore, a business which was dead, a business which cannot continue to exist and to operate which can earn zero dollars had no value and therefore to give compensation for the loss of a business which had zero value was wrong.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, does your argument disregard the fact that a search and seizure happened?  And shouldn’t these clients or these persons be compensated at least for that if the court has ruled that it was unlawful?”

 

Denys Barrow

“This is exactly the argument made by my learned friend.  So, I think, he better speaks to that.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Titans International Securities

“Daniel, I think you captured the issue from our perspective.  My learned friend had said that the case, the appeal should be argued on the basis that the search and seizure, as found by the judge, should stand.  He left it for the court if they wanted to make any slight variations to that but we were arguing about damages and I think that the principle that we were seeking to establish before the court was that a wrong has been committed and if a wrong has been committed there needs to be compensation.  His argument was that we had to prove that compensation arose because they, we had to prove the cause for which the damage occurred and my submission, based on the cases that we reviewed is that it is sufficient to prove that a wrong has been committed, your constitutional right has been committed and therefore the court will declare that your constitutional right has been committed and thereafter, if it feels appropriate, to award damages.  Now the bigger issue here, in my view, is the quantum.  We put forward an expert opinion on the value of the business, future value of the business.  Mr. Justice Abel reduced it by eighty percent and what we argued in the court here is that he was entitled to make that reduction in exercise of his discretion and that the government and the FIU have not put forward any reasons why his exercise of discretion should be interfered with.  Now I know there position is that these people should get zero dollars, but it cannot be right for someone’s constitutional rights to be violated in such an egregious way and the answer to that is, “well, we have mashed up your business. Hahaha, we win and you lose.”  So we are hoping that the court will find that Justice Abel did in fact exercise his discretion and that the award that he made was reasonable.”

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1 Response for “Will Titan Collect on Judgment for Damages over Raid?”

  1. Jose Gonzalez says:

    with Sosa and awich as 2 of the appeal judges Government need not worry….

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