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A first for CCJ

Ricky Jordan

A first for CCJ

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It was a low-keyed sitting as one of the most popular cases in Barbadian business circles was heard for the first time by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), in its first sitting in Barbados.
Aside from the 20-odd spectators in Supreme Court 1, there was nothing to indicate that anything special was happening at the imposing Supreme Court Building yesterday morning, as the CCJ judges, sitting outside of Port of Spain for the first time in the court’s seven years, heard the case of Marjorie Knox against 11 respondents.
Knox was represented by Alair Shepherd, QC, while Leslie Haynes, QC, and Clyde Turney, QC, appeared for the two main respondents, Kingsland Estates Limited and Classic Investments Ltd, respectively.
The matter, popularly known as the Kingsland Case, or formally Appeal No. 9 of 2004, Marjorie Knox v John Deane et al, made history in 2005 as the last Barbados case to be ruled on by the British Privy Council. Knox lost that appeal.
Yesterday featured another appeal by Knox, in the same case, before CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron, Justice Adrian Saunders, Justice Jacob Wit, Justice Rolston Nelson and Justice Winston Anderson.
In it, Shepherd argued against a local judgement handed down last July 14, in which Knox was ordered to pay the court $175 000 in 21 days.
The central issue engaging the court yesterday was security for costs regarding a previous court decision to uphold a garnishment order of Classic Investments and a set-off by Kingsland Estates against monies owed to Knox. These monies were owed to Knox, a shareholder in Kingsland, by virtue of a declaration of dividends.
Judgement is expected within two weeks.
President of the Bar Association, Andrew Pilgrim, said he believed the lack of interest in the Kingsland Case was probably because it had dragged on for too long.
“People have been hearing about this for nearly 15 years and maybe they’re a bit tired. And some may be looking forward to the Myrie case and so on,” he told the DAILY NATION.
However, Pilgrim added, it was a pity that younger lawyers had not shown interest. “Even when you’re not involved in cases, you should listen but younger lawyers don’t think of that as a way to learn. This is one of the best ways to learn,” he advised.
Describing the CCJ judges as “top-notch”, he said the accessibility in having the CCJ “literally on our doorstep” was “tremendous” and would improve Caribbean jurisprudence.
When Knox lost her appeal to the Privy Council, it cleared the way for Classic to complete its proposed $17 million takeover bid for Kingsland Estates, which owns 1 020 acres of prime real estate in the vicinity of the ABC Highway.
Knox was the only shareholder out of seven in the family-owned company to claim that her pre-emptive rights had been abridged by the board of directors in recommending the sale of the company’s shares to Classic Investments in 1998.
Since then, she has lost a string of appeals.