PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 15, CMC – A High Court judge will on May 16 rule whether or not the former chairman of CL Financial, Lawrence Duprey, can change his defence in a matter in which he is being sued for failing to pay loans totalling TT$5.1 million (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) to a former employee.
Justice Frank Seepersad has also given the attorney for Duprey until March 28 to file submissions in support of his client’s move to change his defence after initially accepting liability in the matter.
CL Financial is the parent company of Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) that received billions of dollars in a bail out by the Trinidad and Tobago government a few years ago.
On Tuesday, when the lawsuit came up for hearing before Justice Seepersad, Duprey’s lawyer Michael Coppin indicated that his client wanted to withdraw his initial position of having accepted liability but not quantum.
Coppin said his client’s defence is based on the statute of limitation, while Industrial Commercial Development (Trinidad) Limited – which John is also suing – has amended its defence on a breach of contract principle.
But the judge questioned whether Duprey can now withdraw his defence, saying he is not aware of any provision under the Civil Proceedings Rules to do so.
“It cannot be that the first defendant can just say, ‘Oops. I want to withdraw my defence’,” Justice Seepersad said, adding also that the “courts must jealously guard its processes against abuse of process.
“You have to convince me that that course of action is proper. This court is moving on as if there is an admittance of liability,” Justice Seepersad said, informing the attorneys for both men that they should be present in court when the matter next comes up for hearing.
In his lawsuit, John, said that in 2012, he provided Duprey, on various occasions, with the funds requested and that there was an oral agreement between them for Duprey to repay these loans. John also alleged that Duprey used ICDL as a shell company to avoid personal liability.
John said he lent Duprey TT$5,166,125 and used his property to secure the amounts and that he was expected to have been repaid in October 2013.
John said he has so far received just over half a million dollars between 2015 and 2016.
Duprey admitted that there was a series of agreements, over time, between himself and John for different sums of money but does not admit to owing his former employee the amount being claimed.