CCJ orders over 1 million dollar payment to two Dominicans

Caribbean Court of Justice Headquarters

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today directed the Judicial Manager of the Clico International Life Insurance Limited (CLICO), to recognise and pay a debt of EC$1,423,329.46 to Octavius John and Laurent John within ten days of the Court’s judgment. The CCJ noted that the circumstances of the appellants were unique, given the circumstances of the case. CLICO is a Barbadian company, in the business of general and life insurance, investment annuities and other investment products, which ran into financial difficulties. The appellants, who are brothers and live in Dominica, had invested in several “Executive Premium Annuity” policies from CLICO to fund their retirement.

At the expiration of these policies, CLICO did not pay the John brothers their entitlements. After much stalling by CLICO, the brothers were forced to resort to the High Court of Dominica to recover the funds due on surrendering the policies. In September 2010, the brothers obtained default judgment against CLICO in the sum of EC$1,423,329.46 plus interest.

After further delay by CLICO, the John brothers obtained a consent order in February 2011 by which CLICO undertook to pay EC$75,000 monthly, though beginning at the end of April in that year and continuing until the judgment was paid. CLICO also undertook to pay costs and interest to them.

­However, from 14 April 2011, CLICO was placed under judicial management in accordance with the Insurance Act of Barbados and no payment was made to the John brothers. The Insurance Act stated that all court orders must be placed on hold and further action could not proceed without the leave of the court being obtained or unless the court otherwise directed. The John brothers, however, sought to enforce their Dominican judgment against CLICO in the High Court of Barbados and that Court granted leave to them to continue to a higher court.

The Court of Appeal in Barbados, however on an appeal to it refused leave to the John brothers to enforce their judgment, given the financial difficulties of CLICO and that, in their opinion, the brothers failed to make out an exceptional case as compared to other policyholders throughout the Caribbean.  The court also said that the brothers had not established that their claim was unlikely to be addressed in the proposed plan of the judicial manager.  The Court of Appeal granted the John brothers permission to appeal to the CCJ.

At the CCJ, CLICO filed an application to strike out the appeal saying that the Court of Appeal had erred in allowing the John brothers to appeal to the CCJ. The Court considered whether the CCJ had jurisdiction to hear the appeal and whether leave should be granted to the John brothers to enforce the judgment from the High Court of Dominica. In these circumstances, the Court found that these proceedings were ‘final’ and not ‘interlocutory’ and therefore the Court of Appeal in Barbados was correct in granting leave to appeal to the CCJ.

The Court was satisfied that the John brothers had made out an exceptional case for leave to be granted. They had done all they could to extract their money from CLICO before a realistic possibility of its collapse happened. Moreover, the judicial manager’s counsel conceded, at the hearing before the CCJ, that it no longer treated the brothers the same as other policy-holders since they had become ordinary unsecured creditors so that their claims would not be addressed.

In attempting to balance the exceptional prejudice to the brothers and the potential consequences for the policy-holders, the Court was significantly handicapped by the lack of evidence before it as to the progress of CLICO’s judicial management. The CCJ acknowledged that it was evident from the judicial management over almost eight years, that there must be significant financial deficiencies remaining to be addressed.  The Court stated that the John brothers had made their case with sufficient evidence, however, there was insufficient evidence from CLICO’s Judicial Manager.

In the unique circumstances of this case, the CCJ felt obliged to resolve the issue between the parties without wasting time and costs in further proceedings. If the John brothers have not been paid within 10 days after the judgment, interest shall thereafter accrue at the judgment rate applicable in Barbados. However, no interest was directed to be paid on the September 2010 judgment debt, and no order as to costs was made.

The Laurent brothers were represented by Barbados based, Dominican-born attorney Zahidha James.

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10 Comments

  1. David James
    April 29, 2019

    It is sad when CLICO has chosen to play games with Dominicans whose endowments they are refusing to pay. CLICO, Dominica Branch, you have $25, 000 for me, Please pay me or face the Courts! It is now over 3 years!

  2. J.john-Charles
    April 19, 2019

    CLICO owes me thousands of dollars,and every year I come to Dominica,I am hearing the same old mantra.”Your turn will come,and we will pay you.”

  3. Annon
    April 19, 2019

    But will they ever see the money? Getting a judgement is one’s favor is fine. Collecting on it is another matter.

  4. April 18, 2019

    As a legal
    knucklehead, I struggled to decipher the legal language after reading this article, but the one thing I did understand is, they have to pay the brothers their money, and that is a great thing.

  5. Kool Bwa
    April 18, 2019

    So how this insurance company coolay? They take all poor people premiums, invest it and then want to just say ‘we have financial difficulties’? Well, my dear management of CLICO, find out who in your company caused you to coolay but not to the detriment of hard working people who invested in preparation for their future. When your sales people approach with those very nice and fancy pay off stories, management did not see a problem. Now it’s time to pay, all kinds of stall tactics surface. Good job CCJ!

  6. DAPossieMassie
    April 18, 2019

    While I totally agree with the court’s decision to end CLICO’s determination not to uphold its contractual obligation, the bothers accrued expense from 2010 until this judgement, and consequently should have been granted leave to seek consequent relief, not only because of the fact that CCJ found the decision as being ‘not interlocutory’, but also on the basis for its findings. What if the brothers did not have the resources, the insurance company would have cheated them.
    Was the ‘Insurance Act of Barbados’ a decision by parliament, and also The Court of Appeal in Barbados, which refused to grant leave to the brothers, claiming -‘the brothers failed to make out an exceptional case as compared to other policyholders throughout the Caribbean,’ involved patriotism relative to CLICO, a Barbados company, rather than applying the law universally? They clearly did not defaulted on their policy and paid like every other client in the Caribbean.
    Good thing CCJ is final and not Privy…

  7. BEB
    April 18, 2019

    Congratulations to the two brothers, after that judgement, there will other law suits coming up for hearing, once again , congratulations

    • Mwangie
      April 19, 2019

      Someone had to take the bull by its horns. CLICO cannot be expected to get away with people’s life savings

    • Pipo
      April 19, 2019

      I truly hope they get paid. Winning a judgement is one thing and getting your hands on the money is another, trust me. You cannot pluck feathers from a kwapo. But I admire their tenacity.

  8. Possie Dircet
    April 18, 2019

    Another Barbados company went with our flipping money man? I mean since 2010, which means Skerrit was in office. So Barbados benefitting more from our economy than Dominicans then? And just recently his Bajan advisors fooled him to move Ross University to Barbados and left those labor …of Portsmouth like crabs when their hole fool with water? Only in Dominica that shit can happen because if Hartley Henry and co were Dominicans advising the Barbados government into so much poverty, he would not be allowed to put foot in Dominica.

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