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Political foes unite

Published:Sunday | April 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Senior Staff Reporter

ALTHOUGH THEY are on different sides of the political fence, K.D. Knight and Oswald Harding have found common ground in the Supreme Court.

Knight is an attorney-at-law and opposition senator, while Harding is the president of the Senate and a senior member of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

However, that did not stop Harding from turning to Knight when he needed legal representation in a land dispute.

Knight, who is a prominent Queen's counsel, was successful in defending Harding in the case and is proud to have been asked to represent a man he has faced in many political clashes over the years.

"When I am doing a case, the political colouration of the client is irrelevant," Knight told The Sunday Gleaner days after Harding presided over his trial and sentencing in the Senate.

According to Knight, his approach to the case was guided by the law and he "has a duty, as an officer of the court, to properly represent his clients irrespective of their political persuasions or creed".

"I deal with the issues in the case and not the personality."

Knight was missing from the sitting of the Senate, but that did not prevent Harding from allowing government senators to debate and pass a resolution suspending him from two sittings for using unparliamentary language in the chamber.

The feisty Knight, who had only a few weeks before won the case for Harding, called Leader of Government Business in the Senate Dorothy Lightbourne "rude and stupid".

He then disregarded Harding's instructions to withdraw the comment, leading to his suspension.

The opposition senator later bashed Harding for not delaying the process to give Knight a chance to speak in his defence.

But political battles did not stop Harding from calling up Knight after a couple - Winston and Allison Christie - filed a suit in 2007 against his law firm O.G. Harding and Company, Carole Spence-Brown, Valerie Bent, the registrar of the Supreme Court and the attorney general.

The case

The case was in relation to a dwelling house which Fairfield Development Ltd built in 1991 for Spence-Brown.

She failed to pay the full cost of construction and Fairfield sued on the debt in 1996 and got a judgement for $5.3 million with interest.

Approximately 11 years elapsed before the judgement was executed by way of the sale of the property.

The Christies, who occupied the property in 1995, said they entered into an agreement in 1998 with Spence-Brown that they would pay the debt owed to Fairfield in exchange for an interest in the property.

Harding's firm represented Fairfield and handled the sale to Valerie Bent.

The Christies claimed that the registrar of the Supreme Court failed to bring their interest in the property to the notice of the court.

They claimed that Fairfield's attorneys-at-law, O.G. Harding and Company (OGH), and the principal of the firm, Dr Oswald Harding, acted improperly in pursuing the order of sale in the face of an agreement between the Christies and Spence-Brown.

Spence-Brown did not appear in the case and was not represented.

Supreme Court Judge Patrick Brooks heard the suit and found that the Christies produced no receipts which showed that they had made payments to OGH.

The judge said he did not believe that the Christies in 1998 or any time prior to that had any agreement with Spence-Brown concerning a sale of any interest in the property to them.

It was the judge's finding that the Christies did not pay any money to OGH directly in respect of the effort to clear the debt to Fairfield.

The defendants were awarded judgement and legal costs against the Christies.