Court has not disallowed claim that pension funds are not available for distribution to creditors
Stabroek News
February 8, 2002

Dear Editor,

Your report on page 2 of Sunday Stabroek of 3rd February, 2002 tendentiously headlined `Pension funds insulation bid nipped, in the bud' is a gross distortion of what took place in Court compounded by the use of crude and defamatory language to describe our clients' cases (attempting to `cream off').

The arguments on our Summons filed in the application by the Bank of Guyana (`Bank') to be appointed liquidator for Globe Trust and Investment Co. Ltd. (`Globe Trust') took place before the Chief Justice, in Chambers, and are confidential. The information on which your report is published was improperly given to you and improperly published, the permission of the Court not having been obtained. We write to correct the report's false and misleading aspects and its promotion of the role of Mr Basil Williams, Attorney at Law, far beyond its limited scope at the expense of the arguments of Mr Rex McKay, S.C., Mr Keith Massiah, S.C., and ourselves whose matters were the ones being dealt with by the Court. Mr Stephen Fraser, who represented Globe Trust and Ms Emily Dodson representing a large number of objectors, were present throughout the hearing.

Our clients' objections to the Bank's application are based on their claims that Globe Trust was an appointed trustee for the sums held whose eventual beneficiaries are hundreds of working people. Our view supported by legal authority is that trust funds held by a bankrupt or insolvent are not available for distribution to creditors. Such funds can be traced into the hands of any person they happen to have fallen and recovered, bankruptcy or insolvency notwithstanding. This is the legal basis of our applications and it has not been challenged by the Bank, at least not yet.

In respect of our four objections which were based on a different procedure and different facts and circumstances from the other objections, Mr McKay, S.C. and Mr Massiah, S.C. on behalf of the Bank raised the issue of the Court's jurisdiction. Such an issue is usually heard as a preliminary point and this was the argument engaging the attention of the Court. The merits of our cases were touched upon by ourselves and by Mr Basil Williams but ours were related to the issue of jurisdiction. Mr Williams' submissions related to the merits of our claim per se which issue was not before the Court and so had no relevance at the time. He advanced no arguments on the issue of jurisdiction.

At the conclusion of these arguments, to which Mr Stephen Fraser contributed, and without objection from Mr McKay, S.C. and Mr Massiah, S.C., the Court agreed to our request to stay the hearing of our matters until after the Bank's application and the other objections have been heard. The conclusion of your report that our applications were `thwarted', `nipped in the bud' and `could not be entertained through the front door' are therefore absolutely false and premature as the Court has not yet ruled on our applications. Further, your language suggests that we or our clients were engaged in some kind of sinister or unlawful manoeuvre. Your report that the course adopted by the Court was at the instance of Mr Basil Williams or as a consequence of any submissions made by him is not true. Since Mr Williams' matters were not being dealt with at the time his role was of necessity at this stage insubstantial and only peripherally relevant.

Your report seems to suggest that we were delinquent in some way, in failing to serve our pleadings on Mr Basil Williams, and were therefore engaged in a surreptitious approach to the Court. There is no rule of law or procedure or established practice which required us to serve pleadings on the other objectors. Our complaints were not against the latter but against the application by the Bank, and in these circumstances pleadings are not served initially on the other parties who could not yet be known, at least officially. However, the Court can order when all parties appear, as it did in this case, that the other interested parties be served with pleadings.

Finally, your report portrays Mr Basil Williams and his clients as the victor and our clients as the vanquished. It's a shame that your responsible newspaper treats such important issues of law and justice in this case in such a cavalier and superficial fashion. In this matter there can be no winners. Our only interest is to represent our clients' case and that justice be served. We intend to pursue our clients' cases to finality and take this opportunity to inform you that, contrary to your false report, the Court has not disallowed our claims. They are still to be heard.

Your newspaper did not seek to interview us before publishing its negative, defamatory, biased and erroneous report. Had you done so we would have advised that the matter is sub judice and before the Court in chambers and that the permission of the Chief Justice was necessary before the publication of any report.

We have obtained such permission to set the record straight.

Yours faithfully,

H.N. Ramkarran, S.C.

Rafiq T. Khan

Editor's note

We apologise for this tendentious and inaccurate report which should certainly have been checked with all the parties concerned before publication. We regret any inconvenience or embarrassment caused.