Thursday, April 18, 2024
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CCJ refuses special leave application filed by Graham Bethell

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CCJ) – On Friday, 18 August 2023, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) refused to grant permission to Graham Bethell to appeal a decision of the Court of Appeal of Barbados. That Court had dismissed his attempts to appeal a trial judge’s decision to enter summary judgment against him and had also dismissed his counterclaim filed against Royal Bank of Canada (Barbados) Limited.

In May 2012, the bank had claimed the sum of BDS$1,040,583.67 against Bethell. This was the sum owed to it under a Guarantee and Postponement of Claim signed by Bethell and other company directors of ISIS Development Limited in March 2005. Bethell had allegedly agreed to guarantee the sum of BDS$ 1 million, together with interest. In August 2020, a High Court judge entered summary judgment against him, on the basis that he had no real prospect of success in defending the claim nor maintaining his counterclaim. Bethell was ordered to pay BDS$1 million plus interest, and costs.

Bethell filed an application in the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the order of summary judgment. In July 2021, that court dismissed this application on the basis that he did not need leave to appeal, as he had been granted unconditional leave to defend by the High Court. In August 2021, he filed an application for leave to appeal out of time against the trial judge’s decision to dismiss his counterclaim. The Court of Appeal clarified that this application was really an application for leave from the Court of Appeal to extend the time required to file a notice of appeal against the decision dismissing the counterclaim.

The court, focusing on the constraints of time in which a litigant can file appeals set out in the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2008 and its discretion to depart from those rules, dismissed this application, as not being in the interests of justice. The court also dismissed the appeal against the order of summary judgment for having been filed out of time, there being no special reason to permit the appeal. He then sought special leave to appeal these decisions to the CCJ.

In a judgment authored by Justice Barrow, with whom Justices Anderson and Burgess concurred, the CCJ agreed with the Court of Appeal’s decision. The Court found that Bethell had once again failed to present the necessary criteria, as required by the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2008, which could enable the Court to depart from the rules on time for filing appeals.

Instead of addressing the requirements, which were outlined in a number of decisions examined by the Court of Appeal, Bethell’s application simply argued that the Court of Appeal erred in concluding that special reasons had not been shown. As a consequence of failing to address the required factors needed to satisfy the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2008, Bethell’s application failed to identify what factors the Court of Appeal failed to consider in making its decision. On these bases, the application for special leave was dismissed.

The application was determined by Justices Winston Anderson, Denys Barrow and Andrew Burgess.

Bryan Weekes represented the applicant and Garth Patterson KC represented Royal Bank of Canada (Barbados) Limited.

The full judgment of the Court is available here.



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