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Oct 19, 2017

The Final (?) Hearing on B.T.L. Compensation

John Carrington

The long-awaited consolidated appeals and cross-appeals between the government, Dunkeld International Investments Limited and Dean Boyce and the B.T.L. Employees’ Trust were heard this morning in the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The case concerns the government’s efforts to make Dunkeld and the Trust prove that its calculations of liabilities in the second payment for Telemedia, calculated in a direct negotiation between Lord Michael Ashcroft and Prime Minister Dean Barrow, are correct. The Government hired Queen’s Counsel John Carrington, a Trinidadian working in the Sabals Law Firm in the British Virgin Islands, to present its case. Here is a portion of his argument.

 

John Carrington QC, Attorney for Government of Belize

“The essence of the agreement was that the second tranche of the final compensation to both Dunkeld and the Trust was to be paid in a mix of currencies, U.S. dollars and Belize dollars and the agreement set out the formula by which that mix was to be calculated. And what we have in essence, My Lords, is a dispute among the parties, as to the mix, as to how much is payable in Belizean dollars and how much is payable in U.S. dollars with respect to this second tranche.”

 

David Hayton, Judge, Caribbean Court of Justice

“Yes; Mr. Carrington, that depends really on the definition of Dunkeld liability, doesn’t it, because that’s going to be deducted against the enhanced value part of the share, so that is the crux of the matter for us to look into now.”

 

John Carrington QC

“That is one of the important considerations in the matter, and we say that when you look at the evidence, until fairly recently, the parties appear to have been in no doubt as to what those liabilities were – the parties all agreed, it would appear, until recently, that the liabilities were liabilities in connection with the acquisition. In our speaking note, My Lord, we referred you to passages from Mr. [Philip] Osborne’s first affidavit and I believe his fifth affidavit.”

 

Judge David Hayton

“However as a matter of construction, we’re not concerned with the subjective intentions of the parties, are we? It’s what a reasonable person, in all the circumstances, knowing the background, would consider the parties would have meant?”

 

John Carrington QC

“Yes, My Lord; I agree, My Lord.  I just draw that to your attention to show that there was no dispute, but I agree with your Lordship’s statement that that may not necessarily be conclusive as to construction. But we say that is on the construction, when one reads the schemes of the sections, the intention must have been that these liabilities were restricted.”

 

Appearing with Carrington at the Government’s table were Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, Crown Counsel Agassi Finnegan and attorney Magalie Perdomo.

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