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Saturday 18 November 2017
Crime and Court

Developers lose loan case before Privy Council

Two property developers who appealed against a ruling of the local appellate court in their fight against an investment company over a $18.9 million loan have lost their appeal in the London-based Privy Council.

In a ruling last week, five Law Lords rejected the two appeals of David and Leonara Deslauriers against Guardian Asset Management Limited (GAM) over the unpaid loan which was taken for a housing development in Champs Fleurs.

They admitted that they owed some $36 million, when the loan was calculated with interest, but challenged GAM’s failure to lend them additional funds to complete the Hevron Heights Project at Mendez Drive, Champs Fleurs, in 2009.

They said they lost $25 million since they could not complete the project.

The Deslauriers contended that the company failed to inform them that it could not lend further money as it had a lending limit. They also claimed that could not approach their previous lenders Republic Bank for additional funding as their relationship with the bank ended.

In the local courts, Justice Ricky Rahim and the Court of Appeal held that GAM did not misrepresent the couple by not telling them of its lending limit as it was not required of them. They said the Deslauriers did not inform them that they would require further funding when the first took out the loan.

The couple also challenged the local court’s decision to allow GAM to sell property they owned at Victoria Square in Port of Spain to repay the outstanding loan. They argued that the property was put in a trust for their children. The court ruled against them holding that the two took no steps to transfer to legal title to the property to their children to be held on trust.

They instead suggested that GAM could sell the incomplete development, which GAM was holding as the mortgage for the loan. They further argued that the Hevron Heights Development was worth more than the Victoria Square property.

In their ruling, the Law Lords said the evidence demonstrated that the valuation of $77 million for the development was inflated and “represented an asset with a very uncertain timetable for sale, and with real doubts as to whether the net proceeds of realisation would in fact repay the judgment debt and accruing interest in full.”

The Deslauriers were represented by Peter Knox, QC, and Ian Benjamin, while Gavin Kealey, QC, represented GAM.

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