Wednesday, July 28, 2010
'Hallelujah!' Peace is official for Grand Bahama Port Authority as Court of Appeal hears all parties agree to end feud
"Hallelujah, hallelujah!" Those were the words which signaled the end of the four-year legal battle which has raged over the Grand Bahama Port Authority. It's a feud which has racked up tens of millions of dollars in legal bills over the years, but finally yesterday the Court of Appeal gratefully received the news from counsel that all parties had signed a consent order ending all litigation.
It puts Grand Bahama and its port authority in the undiscovered land that is a future clear of legal threats and counter threats and it means that now Sir Jack Hayward and the St George family can move forward as one to seek a buyer to revitalize Freeport's fortunes.
Yesterday was the final part of the peace process which started back in April when Sir Jack and the St George family agreed to put aside their differences and seek a common solution.
The prospect of the Court of Appeal reopening the whole can of worms, and the ensuing millions more in legal bills, was one of the unifying factors, with Sir Jack describing the whole affair as "bloody stupid." Justices Christopher Blackman, Sir George Newman and Stanley John were told that all parties involved in the multi-layered litigation had now signed the consent order ending the fight.
Those parties included Sir Jack Hayward and the Hayward family trust, the estate of Edward St George, the Grand Bahama Port Authority itself, former Port Authority chairman Hannes Babak, Port Group Limited, the Cayman Island's based holding company Intercontinental Diversified Corporation which holds Sir Jack's 50 percent stake in the authority, Fiduciary Management Services, which owns 50 percent of shares in the IDC and Seashells Investments which owns the other 50 percent of IDC.
On Monday, Seashells indicated it was refusing to sign the consent order because of some disputed wording but after the justices warned that they would close the matter without their involvement they relented.
Damian Gomez, brief for Fred Smith, and acting on behalf of Caroline St George, told the justices: "I am happy to report that peace has broken out and that the entirety of the parties have agreed to sign the draft order. I am hopeful this accords with the bench's wishes and we can now close the book on this."
By way of response Justice Blackman said: "The consent order initialed by the parties is approved hereby and adopted as an order of the court. Hallelujah, hallelujah."
Sir Jack and Sarah St George are now working together as equal partners in a bid to bring "a new era of cooperation and prosperity for Freeport and the island of Grand Bahama".
SOURCE: Nassau Guardian, July 27, 2010