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Nov 8, 2011

Citrus Industry’s Canton Supreme Court judgment

Andrew Marshalleck

The boardrooms that control the citrus industry are often in the courts. This afternoon Justice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram granted three declarations in favor of C.E.O. of the Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL), Dr. Henry Canton. Canton sought to clarify that his 2002 employment contract was valid and entitled him to continue as C.E.O. and as a director of the company. CPBL sought to file for an extension of time in court this morning, alleging that continued internal conflicts within the company and particularly its Board of Directors that prevented them from filing faster, but this was not granted.  Attorney Andrew Marshalleck spoke to the media after one aspect of the case was heard this morning.

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney

“Well the first application before the Court this morning was for permission to extend time within which to deliver a defense to the claims of Dr. Canton.  CPBL, Citrus Products of Belize Limited, was supposed to deliver a defense to Dr. Canton’s claims in October 2009 and they never did and they are seeking to do so now two years later. So we urged upon the Court that there was no good reason to delay; that the default was actually intentional and that in those circumstances, permission to give an extension of time ought to be refused and that permission was refused.”

Jules Vasquez, 7News

“Now moving forward, what are you asking for subsequent to that?”

Andrew Marshalleck

“Well we are asking for a number of declarations based on Dr. Canton’s employment contract. In particular we are asking for a declaration that his removal as a director of Citrus Products of Belize Limited was in breach of his contract and unlawful.”

Jules Vasquez

“Is your client willing to accept his actions have thrown the company into disarray?”

Andrew Marshalleck

Henry Canton

“I don’t think he would accept that, but you should ask him. I think his position is that the actions of ICL has thrown the operations of CBPL into disarray—not his reactions, their actions.”

Aaron Humes, Amandala

“With respect to your client, what is his status at the company now? Is he still the C.E.O. as well as the director because as was pointed out in Court, there have been several attempts to remove him?”

Andrew Marshalleck

“Yes, there have been a couple of attempts to remove him by the shareholder of CPBL not by CPBL itself—therein lies the rub. The reason why there is a question mark over whether or not he has been properly removed. Undoubtedly, ICL as majority shareholder of CPBL has certain rights. ICL has however entered into certain commercial agreements with third parties circumscribing and defining how those rights are to be exercised. And now it’s seeking to exercise those rights in breach of those voluntary agreements restricting the exercise of those rights and therein lies the problem. If ICL as majority shareholder had not entered into agreement seeking to limit its own power then there would have been no case. It has entered into such agreements to CPBL as well as on its own. On its own in relation to Bank’s Holding because it has to do with the investment agreement and through CPBL in relation to Dr. Canton’s contract.”

The afternoon’s summary judgment concluded with a victory for Canton.  CPBL’s attorney, Nigel Ebanks said granting the declarations would be pointless, since Canton has not applied for damages and has not indicated any prejudice in the performance of his duties or any losses sustained by his removal as a director. Ebanks was supported by Ashanti Arthurs-Martin, who represents the CGA and its Investment Company Limited (ICL), a majority shareholder of CPBL, as interested parties in the case. Arthurs argued that the company cannot contract away the rights of shareholders to appoint directors to the company, and that the presence of such a provision in Canton’s contract ran the risk of making the whole contract void. Andrew Marshalleck retorted that Canton’s contract preceded the Articles of Association. And though Canton won, Justice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram’s written reasons will be available at a later date.

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1 Response for “Citrus Industry’s Canton Supreme Court judgment”

  1. Nicos says:

    Canton manipulated CPBL so that no defense was filed. He knew that without a defense he would get default judgement. This is how low this man is…but time will tell!

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