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Ken Julien loses eTeck appeal

Published: 
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ken Julien and five former board members of the Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company (eTeck) have lost their final bid to have the company’s US$5 million lawsuit against them, over a failed deal from 2005, struck out.

Five British Law Lords of the Privy Council yesterday delivered a 19-page judgment in which they agreed with the local High Court and Court of Appeal that the special purpose company’s claim should not be dismissed based on the fact that it was filed well outside the four-year limitation for lawsuits.

The decision on the appeal clears the way for the company to resume its lawsuit against the former directors for breach of fiduciary duty.

It also sets a legal precedent which empowers State-owned companies to take action against their former management after irregularities are discovered after a change in Government.

Julien and former directors Dr Rene Monteil, Brian Copeland, Ulric Mc Nicols, Eugene Tiah and Sonia Noel were relying on Limitation of Certain Actions Act, which prevents persons from being the subject of stale and dated claims.

The company claimed that it was entitled to rely on a segment of the legislation which allows for an extension of the limit in circumstances where the alleged breaches were not easy to discover while the board was still in control of the company.

The directors had claimed that the lawsuit could have been brought during the time limit as the Minister of Finance is the main shareholder in the company and the controversial contract received Cabinet approval.

Both High Court judge Devindra Rampersad and the Court of Appeal had upheld the company’s claim and gave it the green light to pursue the lawsuit before the directors lodged a final appeal.

In their judgment, Lords Kerr, Reed, Hughes, Lloyd-Jones and Briggs agreed with the local courts as they could find no fault in their reasoning.

In its lawsuit, filed in 2011, eTecK is claiming that Julien and the board members failed to do proper due diligence when it signed a deal with Bamboo Networks Ltd, a Chinese information technology (IT) company based in the Cayman Islands.

The venture was an attempt at diversification by the previous PNM regime, but it almost immediately failed as the company failed to deliver on its contractual obligations.

Julien and the directors were represented by Peter Knox, QC, and John Jeremie, SC, while James Guthrie, QC, represented eTecK.

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