Antigua court puts stop to LIAT pilots’ case

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Barbados TODAY

The Antigua and Barbuda High Court today blocked a class action suit filed by a senior Barbadian pilot against his employer LIAT (1974) in a ruling that some lawyers warn could have serious implications for anyone flying on the airline.

Captain Neil Cave, who had filed the claim in the Antigua and Barbuda High Court on behalf of nine other pilots back in 2015, said the court ruled that the trial which was set to start today cannot now go forward.

In explaining the events that led up to this judgment handed down via Zoom, Captain Cave said the court was expected to determine the legality of LIAT’s management decision to lodge about EC$5 million in CLICO International Life Insurance as pension for the pilots.

“Our contention certainly is that pension funds were lodged illegally into a CLICO scheme by LIAT management. No authorization was given to deduct our salaries and place these monies, approximately EC$5 million into CLICO,” the Barbadian pilot stated.

“We contend that the placement of these funds into CLICO under the guise of a pension where a trust deed or plan rules have never existed, constitute a criminal offence under Section C 34 of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code,” the commercial flyer with LIAT said in reference to his witness statement.

“Today, on the day of our trial which was conducted via Zoom by a judge in the Antigua and Barbuda High Court, the defendant LIAT (1974) Limited argued that the new Antigua and Barbuda Companies Amendment Act 2020, prevents absolutely any form of legal action however arising being taken against LIAT,” the Barbadian pilot said.

Captain Cave, who also studied law, explained that the ruling means no such action can be taken against the regional airline, irrespective of whether one is an existing creditor.

“The court ruled that our case, which was set down for trial today to be determined, cannot go forward. So in essence, no legal process of any sort can be brought against LIAT by any entity, which I find to be very alarming,” he contended.

The senior pilot noted that aviation carries with it certain inherent risks and unforeseen circumstances that arise from time to time.

“What this morning’s ruling means then, I am told, is that no form of claim, personal injury for example, can be filed against LIAT at this time as a result of this very broad and sweeping legislation. Our feeling is that our fundamental rights to due process have been blocked by this legislation,” Captain Cave lamented.

He further expressed fears about the implications considering that LIAT operates through multiple territories including Barbados.

“I am extremely concerned that for someone who has respect for the rule of law, that citizens of these countries have no legal recourse as a result of the new Antigua legislation.”

Cave then raised a question within the context of this new law.

“What happens, God forbid, should a person or persons suffer an injury as a result of an accident while this stay exists. As a result of this new law, they can’t even file a claim. The bottom-line is that my lawyer has advised that the interpretation raises serious legal questions, including potential constitutional issues,” he stated.

Captain Cave said that on the basis of this, some form of legal challenge is likely to be filed, whether by appeal or constitutional motion with respect to this Antigua and Barbuda Companies Amendment Act and today’s ruling.

 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting. I’m waiting to see how this plays out. Lets hear from real Lawyers and not Bush Lawyers like Tabor.

    • From The Sideline this is a rather straight forward matter that even you would understand. Anyway, I will leave it to one of the real lawyers to respond. I know you would like to benefit from my opinion but not this time.

      • I guess you surrender. LOL. Thought you wouldn’t resist, but I was wrong. You’d rather wait for the big guns to say something so you don’t make yourself look stupid. But if you were so sure of yourself, since this is up your alley as a lawyer you would at least give your opinion based on the law. Make your argument learned friend. This is in your turf. I challenge you.

        • From the sidelines, you make a mockery of everything decent in this forum..We know you are a nacasaram. Don’t display it in public.

        • From The Sideline. The matter is so simple that even you would understand without any advice from a non-real lawyer. The recent amendment to the Company’s Act protects LIAT from any litigation. That is what the court has decided and I believe that decision is correct. I would never surrender. By the way, I do for wait for the big guns to speak. Many times I speak first since I have my own views. You will recall that I was the first one to say publicly that the government had no power to MEET VIRTUALLY in Parliament. Did the big guns speak? You will also recall that I was the first one to say that all the REGULATIONS made under the Public Health Act were unlawful. First the REGULATIONS were made by Molwyn Joseph who had nor authority under the Act to make them. Then, the REGULATIONS were made by Eustace Lake, the Chairman of the Central Board of Health who had the authority to make them. However, his REGULATIONS were also unlawful since they were not confirmed by Parliament as required by the ACT. Please consult one of the big guns to get their view before responding to the non-real lawyer. I await your response.

          • You missed the entire essence of the legal argument. No wonder you said that it was so simple and straight forward. The point is, is this new law constitutional given the way it infringed on other laws and rights. As in this case. The procedure as brought in 2015, yet in 2020 a new law comes into effect to stop this judgement from being heard. Would you as a lawyer challenge this law or not and what would your legal argument be?

  2. Please do not look at this as a “pilot” or “Bajan” matter. Look and the bigger picture please and let’s come to grips with the absurd notion that government would pass legislation that would prevent employees who have been wronged from making legitimate claims against LIAT. What’s next on Government agenda? Legislation to prevent employees from getting their hard earned severance?

    • The latter they don’t need to do. many employees are left holding an empty bag anyway. Some die waiting on their severance. It is a right that cannot be enforced if a company goes belly up.

  3. if Liat resumes flying any of its airplanes that land in Barbados should be held until such matters are resolved

  4. Hard to understand why someone would pursue a lawsuit at this time against a company that’s essentially bankrupt. When management took the decision to use CLICO, the employees knowing of this, did they make clear they were against the move? Why then take legal action, after the horse has already bolted? This seems more like attempting to perform surgery on a corpse

    • @toolate: Could you please for your sake read the story again,very slowly.The suit was filed in 2015.It has been languishing in the Courts for 5 years now.i do hope they challenged that Companies Act in a Higher Court.It could end up at the Apex Court,Privy Council.The speed in which the Courts operate.It could be another 10 years be it ends.

  5. @Too Late! The claim was filed in 2015.
    Courts move slower than snails.

    Very recent, rushed through amendment to Companies Act has resulted in this outcome.

    We asked when the change to the law was announced by Govt. “Where was the time for proper discussion by bar society, accounting body, chamber of commerce, unions, ABHTA etc. to think through all implications”… No answer.

    People seemed keen to support the amendment because it would ‘save Liat’… Well that is not promised, and today’s judgement should alarm all ticket holders, staff, unions & suppliers AND all staff & suppliers to any company in A&B.
    Seemingly there is no intent to pay Liat debts by Govt. A&B as per the amendment to the Companies Act.

    • The manager’s period is not forever. Its normally only for a year. I’m not sure what time period the court gave to Mr. Seaforth.

  6. Why don’t Neil Cave shut his mouth? It’s people like him that cost the company Deep grievances. Why don’t you let the people know you studied law while on sick leave claiming the planes made you sick while everyone else was fine? Doing shot like that and still receiving a salary! Idiot!

    • Liat had quite a few of those pilots and other employees that has cost the company millions of dollars in paid sickleave. I know some pilots that stayed for years in sick leave and went straight into retirement thereafter. I guess they didn’t have a strong Human Resource Manager and Lawyer to make their case in the industrial court

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