Tue | Jan 16, 2018

GraceKennedy Remittance wins Privy Council battle against Paymaster

Published:Tuesday | December 12, 2017 | 1:38 PMJerome Reynolds

The long-running court battle between bill payment companies, Paymaster Jamaica Limited and GraceKennedy Remittance Services has come to an end with the Privy Council ruling in favour of GraceKennedy.

In a decision handed down yesterday, Jamaica’s final appellate court upheld arguments that GraceKennedy did not breach confidence and allowed its appeal.

Paymaster CEO, Audrey Marks, had argued that GraceKennedy breached confidence when it obtained and used information in her company’s business plan.

But, the court held that Paymaster failed to prove that GraceKennedy had used the information in the business plan to Paymaster’s detriment.

The court further held that GraceKennedy had conducted its own research into a multi-payment business.

The Privy Council has also dismissed Paymaster’s appeal in respect of the ownership of the bill payment software as well as the claim for breach of confidence against computer programmer, Paul Lowe.

Paymaster had accused Lowe of copyright infringement and breach of confidence.

But the Privy Council ruled that Paymaster failed to establish its authorship of the software.

It said Paymaster’s contract with Lowe to develop the software was oral and informal and that bears no right to ownership.

All the parties in the case have been given 21 days from the date of the judgment to make written submissions in relation to costs.

In March 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that GraceKennedy did not breach Paymaster’s copyright.

However, the court said it was of the firm view that GraceKennedy made use of Paymaster’s business plan, which it obtained in confidence, and clearly took an unfair advantage of the company while it had the document in its possession.

It further said GraceKennedy should have exercised special care not to have used the information in a prejudicial way towards Paymaster.

The Appeals Court had also said GraceKennedy was bound by confidence not to abuse Paymaster’s business plan.

Grace Kennedy was ordered to pay damages and legal costs to Paymaster.

GraceKennedy was of the view that there was a strong basis for appeal and instructed its attorneys, Michael Hylton QC and Courtney Bailey instructed by DunnCox, to apply for permission to appeal to the Privy Council.

In 2015, the Appeals Court also dismissed Paymaster’s appeal against computer programmer, Paul Lowe, for breach of contract, copyright infringement and breach of confidence.

The court said Lowe was the owner of the software.

It also said that Lowe was entitled to licence the software to anyone and in doing so he would not be in breach of his contract to Paymaster.

The court had awarded damages to Lowe and ordered Paymaster to pay his legal costs.