Appeal Court refuses to overturn judge's ruling

AN Appeal Court has refused to set aside a judge’s order which gave the State the opportunity to respond to a malicious prosecution lawsuit.

Default judgment had been granted to Wendell Jeremy, Emmanuel Peters and Asa Mc Lean in 2019 for damages for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment, when the State failed to respond to their claim.

Less than a month later, the State filed an application asking that the default judgment be set aside and that time be extended for a defence to be filed.

The State’s application was supported by an affidavit by one of its attorneys that an administrative error led to a file not being created at the Chief State Solicitor’s department and it was for this reason there was no appearance for the State in the matter. The attorney said when she made enquiries, she was told the default judgment had already been entered against the State.

In dealing with the application to set aside the default judgment and extend the time, Justice Devindra Rampersad exercised his discretion under Part 11.17 of the civil proceedings rules given that the State had not been served, and also extended the time for the filing of the defence.

At Monday’s virtual hearing of the procedural appeal, Justices of Appeal Gregory Smith and Vasheist Kokaram said they agreed with the judge’s decision and said they saw no reason to vary it.

In dismissing the appeal, they ordered the three men to pay the State’s costs in the sum of $5,000.

Only McLean was at the virtual hearing from his attorney, Gerald Ramdeen’s offices. Ramdeen said Jeremy was in hospital to have his leg amputated while Peters’s home recently burnt down and he had no clothes to attend a court hearing.

The State was represented by attorney Kelisha Bello.

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