Legal moves are underway to declare Opposition Leader Lennox Linton, bankrupt, which could result in his removal from the Dominica parliament.
Chartered accountant, Kieron Pinard-Byrne, said he has instructed his lawyers to proceed with the move after Linton failed to pay a significant sum of money awarded to the accountant by the London-based Privy Council, which at the time served as Dominica’s final and highest court.
According to the bankruptcy petition filed in the High Court here on December 6, Pinard-Byrne said that on September 15, this year, Linton paid £1,200.00 towards the judgment debt and £24,792.12 with five per cent interest per annum remains unpaid.
The petition notes that on August 30, 2017, Pinard-Byrne demanded that either Linton pay the sum within seven days, excluding the day of service, or have a counter-claim and if he (Linton) did not comply with the requirements of the notice, he would have committed an act of bankruptcy and bankruptcy proceedings may be taken against him.
It said that seven days have since passed and Linton neglected to pay the sum or satisfy the court that he has a counterclaim.
“The Respondent (Linton) is bankrupt and unable to pay his debt. In the circumstances, it is just that a receiving order be made in respect to the Respondent estate,” the petition notes.
The issue stems from the final judgement obtained on April 27, 2017, “by the Creditor in the Privy Council Appeal No. 0064 of 2014, intituled Kieron Pinard Byrne v. Lennox Linton, whereon execution has not been stayed, or secure or compound for the said Judgement debt to the satisfaction of the Creditor or you must satisfy the Court that you have a counterclaim, set-off or cross demand against the Creditor which equals or exceeds the sum claimed and which you could not set up in the action or other proceedings in which the Judgment was obtained.”
The Privy Council had in October 2015, upheld a motion by Pinard-Byrne that he had been slandered by statements made on a radio programme by Linton on February 26, 2002.
The chartered accountant had appealed a ruling by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal that overturned a lower court ruling on the grounds that the speaking, writing and publishing of the words complained of attracted qualified privilege, sometimes known as Reynolds privilege.
The matter centres around the Layou River Economic Citizenship Programme and the Layou River Hotel project and goes back to 2002 when Pinard-Byrne sued Linton because of an article he published on a website and statements made about the same programme on a radio show, on which Linton, who was a journalist then, was a guest.
Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio Friday, said that Linton faces the possibility of being removed from the Parliament if the court issues an order of bankruptcy against him.
“A person adjudged to be bankrupt, or a lunatic, or sentenced to a particular offense cannot sit in the House,” he told radio listeners, adding “so Mr. Linton is now looking down the barrel of a double-barrel shotgun.
“When you cause harm and you have to compensate for the harm that you cause it is a heavy price to pay, but it is a heavy and just price to pay because you have in fact caused damage,” Astaphan added.
Linton has so far made no comment on the issue.
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