UPDATED: Court grants injunction barring 'Butch' Stewart from dealing in his shares in Gorstew
The Supreme Court on Friday March 11, 2016 granted a provisional charging order over the shares of businessman Gordon 'Butch' Stewart in his company, Gorstew Limited, and an injunction preventing him from dealing with or disposing of those shares.
The application for the order, in relation to payment of judgment debt for cost due and owing by Stewart, was made by Jamaica Tours Limited, a company in which Noel Sloley is a director and shareholder.
The provisional order also provides for an Order for Sale of Stewart’s 499,999 ordinary shares in Gorstew Limited coming “into effect upon the making of a Final Charging Order.”
The background arises from a 2009 Supreme Court decision to allow Stewart to get forensic experts to search computers at Sloley’s company, Jamaica Tours Ltd.
The search was in relation to emails that Stewart alleged libelled him. The court compelled Jamaica Tours and its directors to permit the search of computer files or other data containing the names of Paulette Robinson and Gordon 'Butch' Stewart.
The court further directed that the forensic search be conducted by a group of persons, including Stewart's lawyers and a supervising attorney appointed by the court. It also stated that if Jamaica Tours and its directors failed to comply, they would be in contempt of court and would be liable to have their assets confiscated.
The search began on March 12, 2009 but was terminated the next day by one of the directors of Jamaica Tours Ltd. Subsequently, on November 9, 2009 Stewart began proceedings for the assets of Sloley's company to be confiscated. He also sought an order for the directors to be sent to prison for a period not exceeding two months.
Stewart’s application was refused by the Supreme Court and he appealed but this was thrown out by the Court of Appeal. Later, he sought to go to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council but his application was turned down.
Consequent on the various losses, the courts ordered Mr. Stewart to pay costs amounting to $28 million plus interest. However, the attorneys for Jamaica Tours Limited are also claiming interest amounting to $10 million, which, if approved by the court would take the debt to $38 million.
According to the order, the parties are to return to court on April 21, 2016, at which time the court will decide whether to make the provisional order final or remove it. Information reaching the Gleaner since publication of the original story is that the date for the final hearing has since been changed to March 31, 2016.
On Monday March 14, 2016 The Jamaica Observer published an article in which Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart was quoted as being “constrained to initiate legal action against The Gleaner Company to protect his and the companies he represents reputation”.
The original story published earlier by the Gleaner, on-line, contained certain inaccuracies which are listed below:
1. The application for the orders was not made by Noel Sloley as was reported but was made by Jamaica Tours Limited, a company in which Mr. Sloley is a director.
2. The total costs awarded amounted to almost $30 million plus interest. The sum was not $40 million as was reported. There are three other costs orders which were also included in the charging order which have not yet been quantified.
3. According to the order, the parties are expected to return to court on April 21, 2016, at which time the court will decide whether to make the order final or remove it. We incorrectly reported that the shares would remain frozen until costs are being paid by Mr Stewart.
4. Noel Sloley was not accused of libel. Emails purported to have originated on computers from his firm allegedly contained the libel.
The Gleaner apologises to Mr. Gordon Stewart for the above-mentioned errors and for any embarrassment or inconvenience caused as a result