Shareholders of CL Financial (CLF), who are seeking to prevent the conglomerate from being liquidated and who have said they are willing to repay $15 billion debt owed to Government, have found themselves being unrepresented by its senior counsel because of the non-payment of legal fees.
Forced to seek an adjournment to settle the issue of legal representation, they were yesterday ordered to pay costs to the State for a two-day delay of the hearing of the winding up petition in the High Court.
Government’s winding-up petition of CLF was delayed yesterday when one group of shareholders sought an adjournment after they found themselves without legal representation.
Hearing of the petition was expected to proceed yesterday before Justice Kevin Ramcharan who, in July, deemed it sufficiently urgent to be heard during the court’s vacation period.
However, when the matter was called, an adjournment was sought by an instructing attorney for one group of shareholders - led by shareholder Kirk Carpenter.
According to correspondence supplied to the court, which Ramcharan referred to during the hearing, Senior Counsel John Jeremie, who previously represented the group, indicated his appearance in the case was contingent on the further involvement of Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. Maharaj previously represented DALCO, another group of CLF shareholders.
According to correspondence from Maharaj’s junior counsel, Ronnie Bissessar, the legal team led by Maharaj will not be appearing for DALCO at the hearing due to issues relating to the non-payment of retainer fees.
Bissessar said despite repeated requests for settlement of outstanding money owed to them and numerous promises to pay, their requisitions have not been settled and as such they cannot appear for DALCO.
Maharaj also indicated that he cannot appear in the matter as DALCO has not paid him and had given the client until August 29 to settle the outstanding balance.
In strong opposition to an adjournment, Senior Counsel Deborah Peake, who appears for the Government, described the shareholders’ application as “nonsense, unsatisfactory, inconvenient and prejudicial.”
Peake reminded the judge that the shareholders - who hold 31.7 percent shareholding in CLF - knew since July that the hearing of the petition was set to proceed yesterday. She said her client will suffer tremendous prejudice if the matter was further delayed.
Ramcharan, in granting the brief adjournment, warned that he intends to proceed with the hearing of the petition tomorrow when he will also hear from the shareholders’ new attorney on why they should be heard in the proceedings.