CCJ dismisses part of discrimination lawsuit in Clico bailout

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Caribbean Court of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

PART of a discrimination case brought against the State by a group of Clico and British American policyholders from the Eastern Caribbean was dismissed on Wednesday by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The group claim they were discriminated against after the TT government bailed out CL Financial in 2009 but excluded CL’s Bahamas-based subsidiary British American Insurance Company Limited (BAICO).

The group of mainly Grenadian and Antiguan policyholders filed an original jurisdiction leave application at the CCJ, claiming they were discriminated against by Trinidad and Tobago.

They argued that a plan to protect the funds of policyholders of certain subsidiaries of CL Financial, after its collapse, discriminated against British American policyholders on the basis of nationality.

In delivering the judgement, one of the CCJ’s panel of judges, Winston Anderson said: “There was no suggestion that either the Government of TT, the Ministry of Finance or the Central Bank of TT, when making the relevant decisions;

“Assuming control of Clico and BAT and taking control of CLF’s assets in exchange for the liquidity support, were doing so on a profit-making basis, or for the purpose of participating and seeking superiority or supremacy in the single market alongside or against economic enterprises within the defendant or within member states.”

It was claimed that the State contravened Article 7 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, when it bailed out the conglomerate. That aspect was rejected by the judges, who included president Adrian Saunders, Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, Andrew Burgess and Peter Jamadar.

Article 7 deals explicitly with discrimination against member states based on nationality.

The judges ruled that the bailout was the TT government exercising its authority within its country and not an act of discrimination and in keeping with Article 30(3)(d) of the Treaty.

The other aspect of the lawsuit, which the judges allowed to continue, stated that the government breached Articles 36 and 184(1)(j) of the Treaty.

Article 184 (1) (j) demands that member states provide adequate and effective redress for consumers, while Article 36 addresses the prohibition of new restrictions to member states on the provision of services.

The group is being represented by Simon Davenport, KC, Kenny Anthony, Robert Strang, Gregory Pantin, Matthew Happold, George Kirnon and Miguel Vasquez.

TT is represented by Deborah Peake, SC, Tamara Toolsie, Brent James and Murvani Ojah Maharaj.