The London-based Privy Council has awarded court cost of over £45,000 to chartered accountant Kieron Pinard-Byrne to be paid by Lennox Linton in the decade-old defamation court matter between them.
Attorney representing Pinard-Byrne in the matter, Tony Astaphan, made the announcement on state-owned DBS Radio on Thursday morning.
“By certified order of April 27, 2017, the registrar of the Privy Council has indicated the Privy Council has assessed the court order on the standard basis and on the sum of £45,992.19 (approximately EC$160,128.22) which Mr. Linton will now have to pay to Mr. Kieron Pinard-Byrne,” he stated.
Astaphan said that there is no deadline and Linton must pay immediately.
“You must pay it now,” he stated adding that Pinard-Byrne will be at liberty to enforce the order against Linton in the local courts.
“It’s an obligation that has to be paid immediately, there is no time,” Astaphan stated.
He noted if the matter is not settled and knowing Pinard-Byrne as he does, “he will probably seek an order of the court to have it enforced or to levy execution on any asset Mr. Lennox Linton may have, whatever that asset may be.”
Astaphan described the ruling as “a heavy price to pay for lying.”
“I think that is right because that is the ultimate price you must pay for a smear campaign of lies and misinformation against the character of someone like Mr. Pinard-Byrne and the same principles will apply to any judgement or order of cost should a minister or Prime Minister wins a case against Mr. Lennox Linton or Thomson Fontaine,” he stated.
Pinard-Byrne had originally demanded $340,926.39 in court costs.
The matter centers around the Layou River Economic Citizenship Program and the Layou River Hotel project and goes back to 2002 when Pinard-Byrne sued Linton because of an article he published on a website and statements made about the same program on a radio show, on which Linton, who was a journalist then, was a guest.
In his suit, Pinard-Byrne said he was libeled by Linton.
In March 2011, the High Court in Dominica ruled in favor of Pinard-Byrne.
The matter was taken to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) in March 2013 and the High Court’s decision was reversed with a ruling in Linton’s favor.
The ECSC, in its ruling, said its decision was based on ‘qualified privilege.’
Qualified privilege gives the press some level of immunity from defamation charges for statements made in good faith, unless it can be proven it was done with malice.
Immediately after the ruling, Astaphan, took the matter to the Privy Council since, according to him, the ECSC’s ruling had narrowed the issue of qualified privilege ‘much too much.’
When the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal met in Dominica in March 2014, the judges granted leave to Pinard-Byrne to take the matter to the Privy Council after Astaphan said his client had fully complied with all the rules as laid down by the court of appeal.
The Privy Council ruled in favor of Pinard-Byrne saying he was indeed libeled by Linton.
In its ruling, the Privy Council said that costs before the ECSC and the Privy Council must be paid by Linton.
Linton was ordered to pay Pinard-Byrne $79,324.86 in the same matter by the High Court in Dominica. The Privy Council had also ordered Linton to pay £20, 000 in court costs before the Judicial Committee.
This new court cost will be the final payment in the matter when it comes to the Privy Council, however, costs have to be assessed in terms of the ECSC and payment is still outstanding.