Supreme Court of Canada sides with Antigua over registration of judgment in Ontario

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A Caribbean-based company has lost its fight in the Supreme Court of Canada to have Ontario register a judgment enforcing an order of a British judicial committee against Antigua and Barbuda.

From 1971 to 2007, H.M.B. Holdings Ltd. owned a large beachfront property on the Island of Antigua that featured a resort hotel.

H.M.B. wanted to redevelop the resort after it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1995 but the Antiguan government had other ideas and expropriated the land in 2007.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a court of final appeal for the Caribbean nation, ordered Antigua to compensate the company in 2014.

Two years later, H.M.B. brought an action in British Columbia to enforce the judgment in that province and, when Antigua did not defend this action, the B.C. Supreme Court granted default judgment.

However, the company did not succeed in having Ontario register the B.C. judgment, as the Ontario courts ruled that Antigua was not carrying on business in B.C. — a condition under Ontario’s Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act.

In its 4-1 decision Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada noted that a judgment registered under this law is treated as if it were a judgment originally issued by an Ontario court.

It amounts to an easy, economical and expedient means of enforcing foreign judgments, the court said. However, recognition of a judgment will not be granted if one of the defences set out in the law applies.

In this case, the top court found, Antigua had a defence because it was not carrying on business in B.C.

At the time of the B.C. action, Antigua lacked a physical presence in the province, Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote on behalf of the majority. “It did not have a consulate, an office or any premises in that province. Nor did it have any employees or agents in the province or direct any marketing specifically at residents of British Columbia.”

However, the Antiguan government did have contracts with four authorized representatives with businesses, premises and employees in B.C. for its Citizenship by Investment Program, the court said.

The program aims to encourage investments in Antigua by granting citizenship to investors and their families in exchange for participating in the island’s economy.

Even so, the Supreme Court affirmed the application judge’s assessment that Antigua was not carrying on business in British Columbia for the purposes of the law. Among other things, the judge had noted that the investment program had no particular focus on British Columbia or Canada.

In the absence of any serious, overriding error, that conclusion is owed deference, Wagner wrote.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2021.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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1 COMMENT

  1. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “There is not occupation of territory on the one hand and independence of persons on the other. It is the country as a whole, its history, its daily pulsation that are contested, disfigured, in the hope of a final destruction. Under these conditions, the individual’s breathing is an observed, an occupied breathing. It is a combat breathing.” ― Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism!

    The Government of Antigua and Barbuda wins another Legal Battle in another Nation’s Highest Court! The 95% People of African Descent resident on the Rock, some five days after celebrating their 40Th Independence Anniversary, listen to the Atlantic waves whisper, “Ninety-nine problems but a bitch ain’t one”, as they dissipate on the sandy beach of Half Moon Bay! The Historic decision, given the silence with which it has been received, has not awaken the national consciousness that the Nation has a Right to rule its affairs, as stated by Osagyefo: “When we talk about Africa for Africans, we just proclaim our right to rule ourselves,” with it’s own Legal System!

    This Landmark Decision, which should be celebrated by All of the 95% People of African Descent, residents and citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, raises the question of who validates not only Antigua and Barbuda’s Political, Economical, Socio-cultural, Technological, Environmental and Legal ecology, but all along the Caribbean and Lucayan Archipelagos! The opposing politicos should see this as an Historical Referent Point in Time and Space with a call for Strength and Unity of Purpose in National Development and Growth! But oh no, their lips are now sealed and they have become dumb after the bacchanal with which they delightedly trashed and rubbished the CCJ! “I tried to ignore ’em, talk to the Lord, Pray for ’em, ’cause some fools just love to perform You know the type, loud as a motorbike, But wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.” – Jay-Z, 99 Problems! They NOW relish in the silence of the lambs, clothe themselves in sackcloth, tickle themselves and secretly ask each other “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest” and have settled back into their lives of self loathing dependency!

    That rapacious North American Buccaneer and other North Atlantic Privateers will continue to play in the colonial and Eurocentric Legal world until the 95% People of African Descent see themselves as owners of this land, centered and central in their own history, creating their own Caribbean Civilization with agency as “actors, and participants rather than as marginals on the periphery of political or economic experience” (Asante) as Mendicants! This is should not be a longing based on good works of “Faith, Hope and Charity” leading to an afterlife of bliss filled with milk and honey! To claim the Caribbean space, this much must be understood: “As if to show the totalitarian character of colonial exploitation the settler paints the native as a sort of quintessence of evil. Native society is not simply described as a society lacking in values. It is not enough for the colonist to affirm that those values have disappeared from, or still better never existed in, the colonial world. The native is declared insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values. He is, let us dare to admit, the enemy of values, and in this sense he is the absolute evil. He is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him; he is the deforming element, disfiguring all that has to do with beauty or morality; he is the depository of maleficent powers, the unconscious and irretrievable instrument of blind forces.” ― Franz Fanon

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