Seychelles Supreme Court decision on Plantation resort in question

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VICTORIA, Seychelles (eTN) – In the case regarding the petition before the Seychelles Supreme Court to wind up the company Ailee Development Corporation Limited, the owning company for Seychelles larg

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VICTORIA, Seychelles (eTN) – In the case regarding the petition before the Seychelles Supreme Court to wind up the company Ailee Development Corporation Limited, the owning company for Seychelles largest tourist resort, The Plantation Club Hotel & Casino, Seychelles Acting Chief Justice Ranjun Perera has delivered his judgment last month in favor of the company’s minority shareholder, the Seychelles government with its 8 percent shares, paving the way for the liquidation of the company.

Justice Perera ruled for liquidation in Civil Side case No 27 of 2008. His surprise judgment shocked of the majority shareholders with their 92 percent shares holdings as it has set a precedence in the Seychelles legal justice system for minority shareholders to call for liquidation of companies.

Following the verdict, the representative for the majority shareholders of the company said that they saw the 37-page ruling blatantly showing bias on the part of Judge Perera in favor of the Seychelles government. The company claims that the bias had been evident from the beginning of the hearings after Justice Perera’s contentious ruling, regarding the company’s challenge in March 2007 with the appointment of Ernst & Young as provisional liquidator. The counsel for the company felt directly contravened section 193 of the Companies Act 1972, and filed a motion asking Justice Perera to recuse himself on the grounds of bias. Judge Perera declined to recuse himself and proceeded to hear the case brought about by the Seychelles government to seek authority to liquidate the company.

Ailee Development Corporation Limited felt even then, at the beginning of the case, that they would not receive a fair hearing. Mr. Bernard Georges, counsel for the Ailee Development Corporation Limited, again called into question the judge’s impartiality on Friday, June 13, when Judge Perera refused to give counsel for Ailee Development Corporation Limited more time to prepare their closing submissions. Mr. Georges informed the court that he would be bringing a motion before the Constitutional Court regarding the company’s rights under Article 19, section 7 of the Constitution of Seychelles for being denied adequate time to prepare his defense.

Legal analysts have stated that the ruling delivered by the Seychelles acting chief justice contained many inaccuracies of names and of evidence brought before the court. It was stated that of all the pages in the “evidence” section of the ruling, seven were balanced or relatively balanced and that 14 were negative or very negative to the respondent. Also in this section, on page 16, there are several instances where the judge seems to be giving the court’s own opinion, rather than reporting what was said by witnesses. Legal analysts felt that this was not an appropriate procedure and one that unfairly favored the Seychelles government’s case.

Mark Davison, the main shareholder of Ailee Development Corporation Limited, said that during the closing submissions, Bernard Georges, counsel for the company stated in court that significant sections of the court record of the proceedings of the case were missing. Mr. Davison said that even now after judgment had been delivered, sections were still missing and it served to re-enforce the point. Mr. Davison said that this meant that the Judge Perera had made his ruling without having the full record of the case before him.

While the government of Seychelles petitioned the Supreme Court as “shareholder,” the judgment, which reflects the proceedings in court, strongly argues the role of government as a “sovereign entity” in support of the case of the petitioner. This is, according to counsel for the company, highly unjustifiable and a further indication of the Government’s improper involvement in the case.

Ailee Development Corporation Limited is preparing its appeal against the ruling at the same time as the liquidators have advertised for “tender” for interested parties for the purchase of the hotel property. The tender process is set to close on July 24 as the owners has asked for a stay of execution to stop the sale of the property.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.