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Demand notice served on BDS Ltd

Demand notice  served on BDS Ltd

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On February 10, 2012, the court ordered that the Defendants (Thomas and BDS Ltd) pay the Claimant (Gonsalves) aggravated damages in the sum of $155,000, plus costs of $11,625. The court also ordered that the Defendants pay interest on the judgement debt at the statutory rate of five per cent from the date of assessment until payment in full.{{more}}

As at May 9, 2014, the debt had reached $185,370.31, having accumulated $18,745.31 in interest over the two years and three months since the date of assessment.

In the suit, Gonsalves sought among other things, damages and costs against the Defendants for slander, claiming that he was slandered by words spoken by Thomas (the First Defendant) broadcast to persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia on Nice Radio 96.7 FM, owed by BDS Ltd (the Second Defendant).

Gonsalves claimed that by publication of Thomas’ words, he was gravely injured in reputation as a barrister-at-law and solicitor, as well as his office as Prime Minister and has been brought into public scandal, contempt and ridicule and has suffered loss and damage.

Thomas, however, in an amended defence filed on July 6, 2007, pleaded that Gonsalves is not a practising barrister-at-law and solicitor. He also denied that the words complained could bear the meaning ascribed to them by the Claimant (Gonsalves). He contended that the words complained of constituted fair comment and expressions of opinion made in good faith without malice upon matters of public interest. Further, that the said words were published in the exercise of freedom of speech on the conduct of the Claimant in his public capacity of Leader of the Unity Labour Party and as Prime Minister and Head of Cabinet of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

BDS Ltd, the Second Defendant, also pleaded on March 23, 2007 that the words complained of were not understood to bear or were capable of bearing any of the defamatory meanings alleged by the Claimant and that the statements were published on an occasion of qualified privilege.

By Notice of Application filed on August 8, 2009, Gonsalves (the Claimant) applied to the Court for the Defendants’ defences to be struck out and for judgement to be entered for him for the payment of an amount to be decided by the Court and costs.

When that application came up for hearing in Chambers on September 30, 2009, the Court made an Order that Counsel were to file written submissions and copies of the legal authorities on which they relied, on or before October 16, 2009. The matter was then adjoured to November 11, 2009.

Counsel for the Claimant, Grahame Bollers filed his submissions on October 14, 2009. However, no submissions were made by Counsel for the Defendants Dr Linton Lewis.

“No submissions were filed by Counsel for the Defendants up to the time of the writing of this decision, namely 9th November, 2009. Accordingly, this ruling is based on the submissions of Counsel for the Claimant and on the Court’s own inherent knowledge of the law,” the judgement, signed by High Court Judge Jennifer Remy, stated.

In conclusion, Remy stated, “…it is my considered opinion in this case it is clear that the Defence of the 1st and 2nd Defendant has no reasonable chance of success, is incurably bad, wholly unsustainable, without merit and is an abuse of the process of the Court and should be struck out.”

This is the second time that a demand is being made by Gonsalves against BDS Ltd because of words spoken on Nice Radio, determined by the court to be defamatory.

On February 25, 2013, BDS Ltd paid Gonsalves $206,142.47, the full judgement debt plus costs and interest, for a defamation case which the Prime Minister won against BDS Ltd and Elwardo Lynch. For many years, Lynch hosted the New Democratic Party show “New Times” on Nice Radio.

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