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Grace Kennedy, Cable Operators and Unashamedly Ethical

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 5:00 AMDevon Dick

According to The Gleaner of April 2, the Court of Appeal in a judgment written by Justice Hazel Harris in the case Paymaster vs Grace Kennedy concluded that Paymaster didn't own the software on which its operations function. That belonged to Paul Lowe, its developer; even though Paymaster may have expended huge sums and time to have something fashioned to the specific requirements of its multi-payment platform. In addition, it ruled that GraceKennedy, through its vehicle, GraceKennedy Remittance Services (GKRS), essentially used information from Paymaster's business plan to hasten the establishment of its own bill payment service, Bill Express.

The judge discovered that GKRS's marketing plan was created subsequent to the commencement of these proceedings and that the GKRS/Bill Express business plan produced at trial contained a preponderance of similarities with Paymaster's.

GraceKennedy is taking the matter to the Privy Council, as it is its right. However, this damning judgment handed down by these learned judges must count for something. GraceKennedy could have given the assurance that if anyone was found guilty of smearing the name and brand of GraceKennedy, that employee will be dealt with swiftly. Furthermore, as the case heads to the Privy Council, in the meantime, GraceKennedy should at least suspend any manager involved with the handling of Paymaster's business plan.

When politicians have adverse rulings made against them, we expect them to step aside even as a final judgment is awaited. Policemen get suspended after an allegation or charge and it should not be different within the private sector. GraceKennedy is one of the international brands of the world and it needs to act decisively and quickly.

Similarly, cable operators need to stop using unauthorised content immediately. The Broadcasting Commission should not have given them until the end of May. This breach has been going on for years and it is sad that it continues. Not only should these cable operators stop pronto, but they should make restitution and pay the content providers for the months and years they had been using unauthorised content. Private-sector companies should not expect to get away with the illicit use of content material.

Late last year, South African billionaire Graham Power was in Jamaica to promote his Unashamedly Ethical as a model in business practices. He confessed that his business operated as a cartel with others and benefited financially from unfair bidding practices. It was a difficult decision to walk away from business associates, but he did and encouraged them to be ethical in business. Our prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, and her Cabinet signed; our leader of the opposition, Andrew Holness, signed and also some of our business leaders. Power proclaimed that message to hundreds of people at Boulevard Baptist Church, and now more businesses need to do the right thing. Unashamedly Ethical is a campaign promoting ethics in business, values and clean living. There will be times when it might not be illegal, but it is immoral, and some sanctions should be applied.

Former mayor of Lucea, Councillor Shernet Haughton, engaged in nepotism, according to the Office of the Contractor General. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed but said it was not a criminal offence. Nevertheless, many rightly called for sanctions against her.

Therefore, some heads should roll at GraceKennedy and at the cable companies for business practices that do not appear unashamedly ethical.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.