Privy Council dismisses ‘loan’ appeal against LMCS

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

LMCS managing director Kazim Ali, left, with UNC Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee. – File photo by Lincoln Holder

THREE UK law lords have upheld a judge’s ruling in favour of Land and Marine Construction Services (LMCS) Ltd involving a loan transaction with an accountant.

Lords David Lloyd-Jones, Phillip Sales and Ben Stephens dismissed accountant Darren Singh’s appeal of a ruling delivered in 2017 by Justice Frank Seepersad.

In 2020, the Court of Appeal by a majority decision, upheld Seepersad’s ruling and Singh appealed to the Privy Council.

LMCS had argued that Singh approached LMCS’ managing director Kazim Ali for a loan of $1.5 million.

Three cheques were disbursed to Singh and the oral agreement was that he would repay the sum in a year with an interest rate of six per cent. LMCS sued Singh because the loan was never repaid.

In his defence, Singh denied it was a loan. He said he loaned $1.8 million to a third party who failed to repay him and the agreement was that since the third party was owed by LMCS, the contracting firm would pay Singh directly.

However, Lord Stephens, who delivered the decision at the Privy Council, said they were not persuaded by Singh’s case to warrant them to depart from their settled practice to review a case as a second appeal against a concurrent finding of fact by the local courts.

“The Board, having considered those submissions, decided that there was nothing at all exceptional about the challenge the appellant was seeking to make to the concurrent findings of fact made in these proceedings.

“To the contrary, the appellant was inviting the Board to revisit the issues considered by the judge and the Court of Appeal, and to do so in the hope of persuading the Board that those courts had failed properly to evaluate the oral evidence …”

In an attempt to convince the Privy Council to consider the appeal, Singh’s attorneys contended that Ali’s evidence was undermined since, as an experienced businessman, he should have properly documented the transaction as a “loan.”

They also pointed to inconsistencies in the evidence and contended the judge failed to properly assess it. None of the five contentions raised by Singh’s attorneys to suggest the judge erred in his findings were successful. Singh was represented by Ravi Rajcoomar, SC, and John Heath, SC, while LMCS was represented by Tim Prudhoe and Kamini Persaud-Maraj.