Attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC said yesterday that he will be taking his fight to the Privy Council to reverse the decision by the Court of Appeal in the case of CLICO policyholders.
Maharaj, who represents the United Policyholders Group (UPG), said the appeal would be filed within the next 21 days. And a request will be made for the matter to be expedited by the Privy Council.
The policyholders were invited to a meeting to discuss the latest move at the Plaza de Montrose Building, Chaguanas yesterday.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment of the High Court which had ruled that CLICO policyholders of the UPG were entitled to be paid the full sums of their policies.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, at a news conference at Cabildo Chambers in Port of Spain following the ruling, said the Court of Appeal judgment was a landmark one because had the High Court ruling been upheld, the State would have to find over a billion dollars to pay the policyholders.
Maharaj advised policyholders on the grounds of appeal identified in the Court of Appeal judgment yesterday.
He said, “You have an answerable appeal. It is our view that the Court of Appeal’s decision will be reversed and the judgement of the High Court will be restored.”
Maharaj said the issues of law which arise in the policyholders’ appeal were already decided by the highest authority. “So it is merely an application of the question of law in respect to the concession made by the State that there was a promise. It is very difficult for that concession to have been withdrawn in law and if it can be withdrawn on the fact of this case there was clearly an ambiguous promise for you to be paid and for the money to be guaranteed.”
Maharaj said there was clearly a breach of the legitimate expectation as it cannot be disputed that the Government in the Parliament made an offer, not giving policy holders the full amount. He said: “Any overriding public interest does not arise because the state had to adduce evidence of an overriding public interest. That evidence would have had to show that CLICO did not have sufficient funds to pay you. It also had to show that there was not sufficient money which were available for the Statutory Fund deficit to be made good and we produced evidence from the respondent record of the Central Bank and from the respondent evidence to show they had sufficient funds.”
Maharaj said payments to the CLICO policyholders had nothing to do with macro economic policy.
“This has nothing to do with building a road. It is a debt which is owed, the Government accepted the debt. It is a statutory debt, so macro economic policy consideration do not apply,” he said.
Maharaj informed the policyholders that the CLICO assets far exceeded the debt owed to them.