Robinson, Bowen take costs battle to appeal court

Published: Friday | December 13, 2013 Comments 0

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

The legal dispute between Manley Bowen and Member of Parliament for North East St Ann Shahine Robinson over legal costs is now before the Court of Appeal.

Bowen is appealing against the drastic reduction by Supreme Court Judge Lennox Campbell, by more than a half of the $15.3 million which the registrar of the Supreme Court had taxed in his favour.

The legal costs stemmed from the election petition which Bowen filed after Robinson ran in the 2007 general election when she was an American citizen.

Robinson had appealed the registrar's taxation, which was completed in June 2011.

Campbell, who heard the appeal, handed down an order this year, setting aside the $5.7 million in retainer fees to Bowen's lawyer.

The judge also reduced the fees charged by legal expert Professor David Rowe, who was engaged by Bowen to elicit information in the United States in relation to Robinson's citizenship. The judge held that the fees that Rowe charged were unreasonable.

CHALLENGING FINDINGS

Bowen's lawyers, Abe Dabdoub and Raymond Clough, who are being instructed by the firm Knight Junor Samuels, is appealing Campbell's ruling on the grounds that he erred in his findings.

The appellant, Bowen, is contending that the judge failed to understand that lawyers were entitled to retainers in undertaking to do work. Bowen has also stated that the judge erred in reducing Rowe's fees because there was proof of payment of the fees in the form of cheques, which were signed and acknowledged by Rowe.

On the other hand, Robinson's lawyer, Nesta Claire Smith, has filed a counter appeal contending that the judge was correct when he reduced the amount assessed by the registrar.

Bowen had filed an application for Robinson to be declared bankrupt, but she took the issue to court and the application was turned down.

Smith said yesterday that arising from the bankruptcy suit, Robinson was awarded legal costs. Smith said legal fees amounting to $6 million are being submitted to the registrar for taxation.

Campbell had also ordered Bowen to pay Robinson's legal costs when he reduced the registrar's award, but Robinson is awaiting the outcome of the appeal.

Robinson has since paid $4 million of the $15.3 million which the registrar had awarded in June 2011.

Smith explained that if Bowen's appeal is thrown out, Robinson would only have a balance of approximately $100,000 to pay.

Robinson renounced her American citizenship some time after the petition was filed.

A by-election was held in the North East St Ann constituency and Robinson emerged winner.

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