Sagi­cor Bank tri­umphs over at­tor­ney:

Jamaica Gleaner - - FINANCIAL GLEANER - MCPHERSE THOMP­SON As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor – Busi­ness

THE PRIVY Coun­cil has re­stored a Supreme Court judg­ment handed down four years ago in favour of Sagi­cor Bank Ja­maica Lim­ited over a dis­puted mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar loan.

The bank’s cus­tomer, Mar­va­lyn Tay­lor-Wright, an at­tor­ney, al­leges that the law­suit, orig­i­nally filed against her by RBTT/RBC Royal Bank in March 2011, was based on a forged prom­is­sory note.

Sagi­cor Group ac­quired RBC Royal Bank Ja­maica in 2014 and even­tu­ally merged it with its ex­ist­ing bank­ing unit, Sagi­cor Bank Ja­maica.

In an April 2014 sum­mary judg­ment, then Supreme Court Justice Brian Sykes – now chief justice – or­dered that Tay­lorWright pay the bank just un­der $40 mil­lion, plus in­ter­est dat­ing from Fe­bru­ary 18, 2013.

In July 2016, the Court of Ap­peal set aside Justice Sykes’ rul­ing on the ba­sis that is­sues sur­round­ing the dis­puted prom­is­sory note and whether it was forged re­quire in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and can­not be a ba­sis for sum­mary judg­ment.

A sum­mary judg­ment refers to a rul­ing with­out a full trial where one of the par­ties ap­pears to have lit­tle prospect of suc­cess.

The court had also re­fused Sagi­cor’s mo­tion for leave to ap­peal to the Privy Coun­cil on the grounds that the bank had not shown that the ques­tion pro­posed to be sub­mit­ted is one that arose from the de­ci­sion of the Court of Ap­peal and is of great gen­eral or pub­lic im­por­tance.

As a re­sult, Sagi­cor ap­plied di­rectly to the Privy Coun­cil, which in July 2017 granted the bank per­mis­sion for the ap­peal to be heard.

The is­sue, Sagi­cor told the

Fi­nan­cial Gleaner in re­sponse to queries when it de­cided to pur­sue that ap­peal, was one that re­lates to “a com­mer­cial bank’s abil­ity to ef­fec­tively en­gage in bank­ing busi­ness, namely, that com­mer­cial banks must be al­lowed to utilise the le­gal pro­ce­dure of sum­mary judg­ment to re­cover from delin­quent debtors over­due, ac­knowl­edged and undis­puted bor­row­ings”.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, the claim has its ge­n­e­sis in an agree­ment whereby Tay­lor-Wright bor­rowed $21.76 mil­lion from RBTT Bank Ja­maica Lim­ited on July 27, 2007. RBTT was sub­se­quently ac­quired by Royal Bank of Canada as part of a

re­gional takeover and re­branded RBC Royal Bank (Ja­maica) Lim­ited.

The loan was se­cured by a prom­is­sory note dated July 20, 2007 as well as res­i­den­tial prop­erty in Stony Hill, St Andrew, and com­mer­cial prop­erty at Duke Street, Kingston.

How­ever, the bank holds a note dated July 27. Tay­lor-Wright con­tends that the sig­na­ture on that doc­u­ment is forged.

The bank sued Tay­lor-Wright in March 2011 to re­cover $31.66 mil­lion in loan and credit card debt. It claimed that she last made a pay­ment on the loan in De­cem­ber 2009.

Tay­lor-Wright sub­se­quently paid off the credit card debt but dis­puted the de­mand loan, con­tend­ing that un­der the July 20 prom­is­sory note, she owed no li­a­bil­ity to the bank as the doc­u­ment was in­com­plete, since it did not con­tain any agreed in­ter­est rate and the loan had been dis­bursed on July 27, 2007.

Lord Briggs, in the judg­ment on be­half of the five-mem­ber board de­liv­ered on May 14, noted that Justice Sykes con­cluded that since the bank’s en­ti­tle­ment to the amount claimed did not de­pend upon the prom­is­sory note, the ques­tion whether it was or was not a forgery did not af­fect the bank’s en­ti­tle­ment. He added that this was suf­fi­ciently demon­strated by Tay­lor-Wright’s ad­mis­sion that she had bor­rowed the money.

The Privy Coun­cil said the judge was thus en­ti­tled to con­clude, as he did, that there was no tri­able is­sue about that and other matters raised.

The board said it is fan­ci­ful to sup­pose that a sub­stan­tial, largely un­paid, bor­row­ing could be ren­dered ir­recov­er­able merely be­cause a doc­u­ment in iden­ti­cal terms to the sec­ond prom­is­sory was, for some rea­son which re­mains in­ex­pli­ca­ble, later forged and re­lied upon by the bank.

The Privy Coun­cil said it was a case in which a trial would have amounted to no more than a se­ri­ous waste of time and ex­pense for the par­ties, where Tay­lor-Wright’s case dis­closed no real prospect of her suc­cess­fully re­sist­ing the bank’s claim, and where the grant of sum­mary judg­ment was the ap­pro­pri­ate re­lief for the judge to grant the bank on the hear­ing of the par­ties’ cross-ap­pli­ca­tions.

Tay­lor-Wright was un­avail­able for com­ment, but her of­fice has promised a re­sponse.

Sagi­cor was rep­re­sented at the Privy Coun­cil by San­dra Minott-Phillips, QC, and Litrow Hick­son. Tay­lor-Wright was rep­re­sented by David Alexan­der, QC, An­war Wright and Owen Roach.

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