NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Court of Appeal has granted Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard a ‘stay’ of a 90-day prison sentence imposed by a Supreme Court judge last month after he was found in contempt.
The appellate court in a decision handed down last Friday found that Mr. Nygard had partially purged his contempt by paying into court the fine of $150,000 and $15,000 representing the daily amount to be paid while the fine remains outstanding.
He had also provided an apology to the Supreme Court and given an undertaking not to breach the injunction in the future the appellate court noted.
“Undoubtedly, the giving by Nygard of the undertaking, apology and explanation with the payment of the $150,000 fine, can be reversed on a successful appeal,” said Justice Roy Jones.
“It is self-evident that serving a 90-day sentence cannot be undone.”
The judge further noted Nygard’s compliance with the court’s orders in this case, even at this late stage, “show in my view a willingness to respect the courts processes and some remorse for past behavior”.
Jones continued: “For all these reasons, and to remove any risk of unfairness I grant Mr. Nygard a stay of execution of the 90-day custodial sentence until the hearing of his appeal in this court. “
Last month Justice Ruth Bowe-Darville had sentenced Nygard to 90 days imprisonment and fined him $150,000, which was to be paid within seven days of the ruling.
Failing to turn himself over to over to police or failure to pay the fine, would have resulted in an additional 30 days in prison and a $5,000 fine for each day the fine is unpaid.
Justice Bowe-Darville imposed the sentence in the fashion mogul’s absence as he had failed to appear for the hearing.
Nygard was found in contempt for breaching an injunction preventing him from publishing emails that were stolen from environmental group Save The Bays.
Attorneys for Saves the Bays had claimed that a number of emails containing client/attorney information were stolen from his law firm, Callenders & Co, via some unknown means but were later exhibited in an affidavit by Keod Smith, one of Nygard’s attorneys.
An injunction had been granted preventing Mr Nygard and Mr Smith from perusing, publishing, or disseminating those correspondences.
However, Nygard’s US attorney subsequently tried to publish the emails in court proceedings in New York.
Justice Bowe-Darville had ordered Nygard to make a written apology to the court, provide “full and verifiable reasons for his non-appearance” and to give a written undertaking to discontinue the use of the emails in the New York proceedings within seven days.
In a separate matter before the appellate court, Nygard was successful in having the court restore two appeals arising from the same action in the Supreme Court.
The appeals had been struck out due to Nygard’s non-attendance at an adjourned hearing of a summons to settle the record.
The first appeal, was an appeal from the Order of Justice Indra Charles who had transferred the further hearing of a matter to Justice Cheryl Grant Thompson after she recused herself and refused to make a costs order requested by the Appellant.
The second appeal was an appeal from the order of Justice Grant-Thompson who had ordered Nygard to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for failing to attend a hearing before her and in which order she also issued a bench warrant for his arrest.