Former T&T Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and his team have secured an injunction blocking an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the association's members, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
The injunction was granted by High Court Judge Carol Gobin as a lawsuit, brought by Wallace and his team against FIFA over their removal and replacement by a Normalisation Committee led by businessman Robert Hadad, came up for virtual hearing on Monday.
Presenting the injunction application, Wallace's lawyer Matthew Gayle claimed that the meeting, which was requisitioned by T&TFA membership and facilitated by the committee, would have sought to challenge their authority to bring the claim and have it withdrawn.
He suggested that under the association's constitution, elected members such as Wallace and his team were required to call the meeting upon requisition and that the committee, as Fifa delegates, could only act on it if they had not within 30 days.
Gayle suggested that the meeting was set before the deadline had elapsed and was seeking to usurp the functions of the court.
The application was not opposed by Senior Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith, who led FIFA's and by extension the committee's legal team.
During the hearing, Hamel-Smith applied for a stay of the proceedings pending his client's appeal over Gobin's decision to refuse its bid to have the case dismissed over a lack of jurisdiction.
FIFA had claimed that by virtue of TTFA's membership with it and under the provisions of its constitution, it (TTFA) had agreed to forgo litigation in local courts in favour of proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which like FIFA is based in Switzerland.
Hamel-Smith noted that his client is maintaining its position and that by participating in the continued case before her, through filing a defence, may compromise it.
Gobin disagreed as she noted her directions for the case to be determined expeditiously, while the appeal was being pursued, were not appealed and were still valid.
Gobin stated that FIFA would not be prejudiced as any decision made by her in the case may be rendered null and void if the Court of Appeal disagrees with her ruling, when it hears the appeal on October 21.
She also questioned if FIFA was employing time wasting tactics.
"Is it that your client is playing for extra time?" Gobin said.
In rejecting the application, Gobin extended the time for FIFA to file its defence to Friday as it had missed its original deadline of September 4.
She also set a tentative trial date of October 9, in the event that the defence is not filed and a corresponding reply is not required.
Through the local lawsuit, Wallace and his three vice presidents — Clynt Taylor, Joseph Sam Phillips, and Susan Joseph-Warrick are seeking a declaration that the decision to remove them on March 17, and replace them with a committee on March 27, comprising of Hadad, attorney Judy Daniel, and retired banker Nigel Romano was null, void, and of no legal or binding effect.
They are also seeking a permanent injunction barring FIFA from meddling in the TTFA's affairs by allegedly seeking to circumvent the democratic process by removing duly elected executive members.
Wallace and his team initially brought proceedings against FIFA in the CAS but were forced to withdraw as they could not pay the the 40,000 Swiss francs (TT$276,000) in associated costs.
Their position was partly due to FIFA's policy to not pay its share of the fees and CAS's rules, which require the other party to pay the full costs when the other fails in its obligations.
Wallace and his colleagues are also being represented by Dr Emir Crowne, Crystal Paul, and Jason Jones, while Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie appeared alongside Hamel-Smith for FIFA.