C&WJ share­holder wants suit against com­pany heard in US

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - McPherse Thomp­son As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor - Busi­ness

CA­BLE & WIRE­LESS Ja­maica, C&WJ, is ap­peal­ing the de­ci­sion of the Supreme Court on a pre­lim­i­nary point of law that there is noth­ing pre­clud­ing a Ja­maican court from grant­ing per­mis­sion for the hear­ing of a claim out­side of the coun­try.

C&WJ share­holder Eric Ja­son Abra­hams is seek­ing to sue the com­pany, claim­ing that fi­nan­cial trans­fers to its British par­ent com­pany, Ca­ble and Wire­less Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Plc, have weak­ened the lo­cal tele­coms over time.

Abra­hams has filed an ap­pli­ca­tion for per­mis­sion to bring a de­riv­a­tive ac­tion against the direc­tors and shadow direc­tors of C&WJ, al­leg­ing that they breached their fidu­ciary du­ties to the com­pany.

A de­riv­a­tive ac­tion is a law­suit brought by a cor­po­ra­tion share­holder against the direc­tors, man­age­ment, and/or other share­hold­ers of the cor­po­ra­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Abra­hams wishes to bring the claim in the United States against C&WJ’s direc­tors, for­mer direc­tors, and shadow direc­tors.

C&WJ’s lawyer, Denise Kit­son QC, in op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, ar­gued on a pre­lim­i­nary point that the lo­cal court has no ju­ris­dic­tion to grant per­mis­sion for the claim to be heard out­side of Ja­maica.

How­ever, Jus­tice Batts ruled that there is noth­ing, in the Com­pa­nies Act or the prin­ci­ples stated in the au­thor­i­ties, to pre­clude per­mis­sion be­ing granted by a Ja­maican court for com­mence­ment of a claim out­side of the ju­ris­dic­tion.

As a re­sult, he held that Ja­maica’s Supreme Court has ju­ris­dic­tion to grant per­mis­sion for the case to be heard out­side of Ja­maica.

Whether the sub­stan­tive ap­pli­ca­tion to grant per­mis­sion for the claim to be heard over­seas will go ahead is con­tin­gent on the rul­ing in the ap­peal filed by C&WJ against Jus­tice Batts’ de­ci­sion on the pre­lim­i­nary is­sue.

Abra­hams wants US$500 mil­lion in as­sets repa­tri­ated to C&WJ’s books, ac­cord­ing to his le­gal team, and he is seek­ing per­mis­sion from the Supreme Court to pro­ceed with his case.

Such a law­suit would im­prove the value of the com­pany, ar­gued Abra­hams’ team from law firm Hart Muir­head and Fatta, who filed court pa­pers in No­vem­ber last year.

CWC Plc, CALA Hold­ings, and C&WJ are all ul­ti­mately owned by Lib­erty Global, which ac­quired the British tele­coms and its re­gional hold­ings in 2016.

mcpherse.thomp­son@glean­erjm.com

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