Lawyer loses $5 Million Lawsuit Appeal
March 10, 2006

Lawyer loses $5 Million Lawsuit Appeal

Prominent lawyer, Othneil Sylvester QC will now have to defend himself in court after losing an appeal in which he failed to convince the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) to strike out a $5 million lawsuit against him. {{more}}

This will be done at a full trial, the date of which is yet to be fixed by the Registrar of the High Court.

Apart from the civil lawsuit filed by a private commercial Danish foundation, Faelleseje, which seeks to recover EC$5,212,500, monies reportedly expended for the purchase of a parcel of land at Orange Hill Estates, the Danish foundation also commenced court action seeking to discipline the Commissioner of the Regional Judicial Legal Service Commission (RJLSC).

Sylvester, a former temporary High Court judge during the period 2001 to 2002, had also tried to block disciplinary proceedings initiated by his former clients, which commanded him to explain why he should not be suspended or struck off the roll of Barristers and Solicitors. The ECSC in its latest ruling has directed that those proceedings also continue.

Both actions arose from a controversial land transaction dating back to July 1984. The Danish foundation hired Sylvester as their lawyer during the purchase of a group of estates, measuring approximately 3,300 acres, at Orange Hill Estates.

On February 16, 2005, Master Brian Cottle, sitting in the High Court of Justice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, threw out Sylvester’s applications to strike out both actions and ordered that the lawsuit and disciplinary action proceed.

During the appeal in December, 2005, Acting Chief Justice Brian Alleyne SC, Justice of Appeal Denys Barrow SC and Justice of Appeal Hugh Rawlins heard arguments from some of the Caribbean’s legal heavyweights and the Court delivered its ruling on February 20, 2006.

The Appeal Court ordered Sylvester to bear the legal costs incurred by the foundation in defending the appeal relating to the civil claim, stating that none of the matters raised demonstrated that Sylvester had a real prospect of success.

Attorneys Karl Hudson-Phillips QC, Stanley Marcus SC, Bertram Commission QC, and Mira Commissiong represented the foundation, while Sir Henry Forde QC, Russell Martineau SC, Emery Robertson and Nicole Sylvester, (the appellant’s daughter) represented Sylvester, who still has recourse to appeal to the Privy Council.

Sylvester was a former Speaker of the House of Assembly (1966-1968); a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Government from 1972 to 1974; and a former Director of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (1984-1986).

After distinguishing himself at the Bar for a period in excess of twenty-six (26) years, Sylvester was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Counsels in 1985.