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Wipa withdraws appeal
The regional players union, West Indies Players Association (Wipa), has withdrawn its challenge to a High Court ruling, which has cleared the way for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to negotiate directly with players. Notice of Wipa’s withdrawal was filed in the registry of the Court of Appeal, Hall of Justice, in Port-of-Spain on November 20. The decision also means that Wipa will now have to pay the almost one million dollars in legal costs to the WICB which successfully won the lawsuit. In dismissing Wipa’s lawsuit in March, which sought to bind the WICB to comply with the October 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), for all negotiations with players to be approved by the union, Justice Ricky Rahim, rejected Wipa’s claim for US$10m ($64m). The judge found that Wipa’s claim was “grossly exaggerated”. He also ordered Wipa to bear the legal costs of the WICB in the sum of $555,535.
Wipa claimed that the two agreements made the WICB incapable of unilaterally terminating a player’s contract but rather by mutual assent or through a revision of the agreements. However, the WICB contended that the intention of the agreements were that they would not last in perpetuity without subject to revision and that it was always open for such agreements to be terminated and subject to change. In March 2012, Justice Rahim discharged an injunction brought by WIPA and ordered the body to pay the WICB’s legal costs of $372,450. On March 30, 2011, WICB wrote to WIPA giving notice of revision of the CBA/MOU by June 30, 2011. WICB also notified WIPA of termination of the CBA/MOU effective September 30, 2011 should there be no revision. It is this termination which was the subject of dispute. During the trial, Dinanath Ramnarine, a former president of Wipa, and director of the union, had testified that the organisation had suffered and continued to suffer financial harm in light of the WICB’s attempt to terminate the two agreements. He said that Wipa had claimed US$5 million in compensation for its losses as well as exemplary damages. Ramnarine also claimed that since the union had gotten notice of the WICB’s intention to terminate the agreements, the union had been unable to secure sponsorship to aid its operations.
Wipa claimed that the WICB had illegally attempted to unilaterally terminate the agreements, which Wipa asserted could only be terminated by mutual consent, revision of the documents or the dispute resolution procedure contained in the agreements. Wipa also sought an injunction keeping the agreements in force until the claim could be heard, which was granted on March 1, 2012.
WICB had disagreed with WIPA’s assertion, countering that it was clear that the parties had intended the MOU/CBA to be terminable and that they were terminable upon reasonable notice. Following the judge’s decision in March, the WICB stated that the board wished to assure that the best interests of the players would remain paramount. It said it intended to engage WIPA to chart the way forward. In this regard, the WICB explained it would not make any further statements. Attorneys Dave Kissoon and Sushilla Jadoonanan appeared for Wipa and Christopher and Luke Hamel-Smith and Catherine Ramnarine appeared for the WICB at the High Court. The WICB had retained former attorney general John Jeremie, Frederick Gilkes and Jean-Louis Kelly to represent it at the appeal.
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