HIGH COURT RULES AGAINST NEEDHAM’S POINT
By Emmanuel Joseph
Henderson Williams, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Needham’s Point Holdings Limited who took his employer to court over his April 2019 dismissal, has been awarded damages by the local High Court.
A brief oral judgment was handed down on Thursday by Justice Michelle Weekes who set May 9 as the date for the parties to return before her to determine the level of damages and legal costs the company must pay.
Williams was appointed by the last Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Cabinet to head Needham’s Point. The principal activity of the company is the ownership and operation of the Hilton Barbados Resort Hotel.
In her decision, Justice Weekes upheld the ten grounds of the case that Williams, through his legal team led by Neil Marshall, brought against the company.
Williams, who also unsuccessfully contested The City seat for the DLP in the May 2018 general election, had requested a judicial review of the company’s actions.
In his affidavit filed in the High Court, he said that on or about October 26, 2018, he had an unscheduled meeting at his office with company chairman Junior Waldron and his deputy Alfredo Weatherhead.
The claimant stated that he was given two letters from the chairman addressed to him – one which was unsigned and dated October 26, 2018, with the caption ‘Termination of contract of employment as chief executive officer of Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd and Needham’s Point Development Inc.’
The affidavit said the correspondence purported to have acknowledged and accepted Williams’ letter of resignation dated October 26, 2018, and wished him continued success in his future endeavours.
The second letter, also unsigned and with the same date, was purported to be written by Williams and addressed to the chairman, tendering his resignation as CEO of Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd and Needham’s Point Development Inc “with immediate effect”.
“At no time did I ever write a letter of resignation to the first or second defendant and neither did I ever have a conversation with the chairman or any other person related to the first and second defendants concerning any possibility of my resignation from the employment of the first and second defendant,” Williams said in his affidavit.
His lawyers’ other grounds included a failure to satisfy or observe conditions or procedures required by law; a breach of the principles of natural justice; an excess of jurisdiction; an administrative act or omission that is unauthorised or contrary to law; and an abuse of power.
Williams’ request for a judicial review of the company’s actions further claimed that the defendants committed an unreasonable, irregular and improper exercise of discretion.
He had condemned the actions of the directors from March 4, 2019, to April 30, 2019, stating that the same people who accused him of gross misconduct had investigated and suspended him, adjudicated the hearing into the complaint as a disciplinary tribunal, found the charge to be proven, and then fired him.
The claimant had also submitted to the court that the unlawful actions of the first and second defendants left him “financially embarrassed”.
“Not only am I unable to satisfy my creditors, but I had been unable to properly retain legal counsel for the purpose of filing an earlier claim in this matter,” Williams submitted.
When contacted, attorney-at-law Marshall, who appeared in association with Hal Gollop, KC, welcomed the judgment, but declined to elaborate at this stage.
Attorney for the defendants, Sir Richard Cheltenham, KC told Barbados TODAY he now has to consult with and advise his clients who will decide on the way forward.