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Boyea/Williams, ECFML multi-million dollar case back in Court

Boyea/Williams, ECFML multi-million dollar case back in Court

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OECS Entrepreneur of the Year for 1996, O.A. Ken Boyea is being kept busy these days, not with his long list of business enterprises or his new venture, Aunt Jobe’s Supermarket. The businessman was tied up this week in the High Court in a multi-million dollar legal battle with his former employer, the Eastern Caribbean Flour Mills Ltd. (ECFML).

The long, winding battle between Boyea, Hudson Williams and their former employer ECFML, spilled over into the courts when both men sued the company for wrongful dismissal in July 1997.{{more}}

Boyea, who was, at the time of his dismissal, Managing Director of the Flour Mills, was sacked along with his Financial Controller Hudson Williams from the company over claims of misappropriation of funds. In 1997 the ECFML made public the findings of their auditors in which they claimed investigations conducted believed “that Mr. Boyea and Mr. Williams have engaged in a course of conduct over a period of many years designed to misappropriate, for their own benefit and the benefit of third parties, significant corporate assets and funds and business opportunities belonging to ECFML.”

Both Boyea and Williams brought forward submissions to the court for claims in damages of up to $5 million, and half a million dollars, respectively to which the ECFML counter claims for losses of up to $30 and $28 million from Boyea and Williams, respectively.

Since then a series of preliminary issues have been dealt with in court, over a period of some nine years. These preliminary matters include a recent proceeding in September 2004 where the Flour Mills lost an appeal to amend a list of pleadings.

The case, which continued last week Tuesday, June 13, saw counsel for both Boyea and Williams making submissions to the Court that judgement should be made based on the documents filed in the case on behalf of ECFML.

According to sources close to the case, the Boyea/Williams team argued that these documents show that both men were wrongfully dismissed from the ECFML and were entitled to at least one year’s notice or benefits for a minimum of a year based on their contracts of employment and the reason they were dismissed from the Flour Mills.

Those submissions took some two days of deliberations after which the presiding judge Justice Gertel Thom ruled on Tuesday this week that she would give her decision at the end of the trial.

Representing the ECFML were lawyers Sir Henry Ford QC, Barry Gayle QC and Leodean Worrell of Barbados with help from local lawyer Douglas Williams. The team put forward documents that were prepared by KPMG, Canada to show reasons for Boyea and Williams’ dismissal.

Holding brief for Boyea and Williams were Dr. Joseph S Archibald, QC, Sidney Bennett QC both from Tortola, BVI and local lawyer Stanley “Stalky” John, who made a case stating that the contents of the famous 1997 enquiry report were inadmissible as evidence in the case as the report was not independent and was prepared in favour of the ECFML.

Despite an expected closing date of June 30, sources close to counsels on both sides of the table hinted that the case is likely to go beyond that estimate, with counsel for Boyea and Williams expected to call some eight witnesses that most likely would be cross-examined.

Up to press time Boyea had given only half an hour of evidence in the case.

The case breaks today Friday and is expected to continue on Monday.



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