The region’s leading lending institution is bracing for a major legal battle over the sacking of one its senior officers.
Former Director of Information Technology and Solutions at the Barbados-headquartered Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Mark Taitt is suing the bank, claiming he was unfairly dismissed on June 30 this year.
Little is known of the circumstances surrounding Taitt’s departure from the Wildey, St Michael-based financial institution which was established in 1969 to help promote economic growth in its borrowing member countries.
However, it was evident from the claims filed by attorney-at-law Hal Gollop, QC, that Taitt’s position was made redundant, much to the IT specialist’s displeasure.
In the matter, which came before Madam Justice Sonia Richards today, Taitt is challenging his termination on the grounds that the bank does not satisfy a claim of redundancy.
Gollop said efforts at a negotiated settlement proved unsuccessful, leaving his client with little choice but to file a lawsuit against his former employer.
“Following a breakdown in negotiations between Mr Taitt and the bank aimed at coming to an amicable resolution, Mr Taitt has filed a lawsuit. In that suit, he is asking the court to make a number of declarations,” Gollop told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
Some of the declarations are that the CDB is subject to the laws of Barbados under the Caribbean Development Bank Act Chapter 323; that the bank is liable to all of the concomitant obligations associated with one’s right to enter into contract and to institute legal proceedings and that it can lay no claim to its immunity from suit under the present circumstances. Gollop said his client is also asking for costs incurred in this case.
The senior attorney suggested that the bank had flatly refused to acknowledge the writ served on it, claiming it had immunity from prosecution.
“It’s understood the bank returned the process [the writ] to the office of counsel for the claimant and it would seem that they are claiming immunity, that you can’t serve . . . process on them,” Gollop added.
In a document entitled, CDB – Its Purpose, Role And Functions: Twenty Questions and Answers, the Warren Smith led regional financial institution states that its charter “contains provisions which accord it legal status and certain privileges and immunities” in each of its members countries, with member governments required to take the necessary action to make these provisions effective under their own laws.
It lists the bank’s legal status as one of the more important of the relevant provisions of the charter, stating: “CDB has full juridical personality with capacity to make contracts, to acquire and dispose of property, and to sue and be sued.”
It also states that the bank’s governors and directors, their alternates and the officers and employees “are immune from legal process for acts performed by them in their official capacity, except when the institution waives such immunity”.
Meanwhile, Taitt has put the CDB on notice of his intention to take his case to the Employment Rights Tribunal, where he will sue for damages should the court rule in his favour.
The bank is being represented by Queen’s Counsel Garth Patterson.
The case has been adjourned until October 26 when the court is expected to determine its next move depending on if the CDB puts forward an argument in its defence.
Last October, Dominican musicians and entertainers Gordon Henderson, Ophelia Marie, along with her husband McCarthy Marie, sued the CDB for copyright infringement over its use of a song as part of a video purporting to show its intervention in Dominica after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015.
Earlier this year, the bank reached an out-of-court settlement with the three for an undisclosed sum.