Stellar Energy- LOI case ‘certainly not finished’

Stellar Energy- LOI case ‘certainly not finished’
Transport minister Renward Wells

Firm’s attorney seeking to rectify ‘technical issue’

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The company at the center of the Renward Wells Letter of Intent (LOI) controversy, assured yesterday the firm’s $727.364 million damages claim against Mr Wells and others is ‘certainly not finished’.

Stellar Energy attorney Osman Johnson told Eyewitness News Online his client was very much “still in the game”.

Johnson said he has been instructed to continue to pursue legal action after rectifying some ‘technical issues’ which led to the withdrawal of the firm’s appeal last week.

Johnson explained he withdrew the matter against Mr Wells and co-defendents Algernon Allen and Frank Forbes in an effort to avoid unnecessary costs.

The company alleged Allen and Forbes acted as government “agents” in its bid to develop a waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill.

Wells and his attorney Greg Moss had agreed the case be dismissed on technical grounds because Stellar Energy had failed to follow the correct legal procedures for getting permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Moss in a Tribune Business interview last week branded litigation against his client as ‘finished’ after the appeal was withdrawn.

Yesterday, Johnson said: “The matter is certainly not finished. We withdrew the matter to avoid any unnecessary cost to bring the matter back to the Supreme Court by way of an application to extend the period of time in which the appeal could be filed.

“In the absence of an actual judicial decision, the appeal continues. The only way a matter in the Bahamian courts end is if the Court of Appeal makes a ruling where they dismiss the appeal. Even in that circumstance a party who feels aggrieved can still apply for leave to the Privy Council and if that is not granted a direct application for social leave can be made. We haven’t gotten anywhere near that stage.”

He continued: “We have decided to rectify some technical issues which were brought about by previous counsel and I decided to do it the right way from the beginning. We’re still very much in the game as it were and we can continue with this action.

“The matter is still very much alive and will remain alive in so long as Stellar believes it is in their interest to pursue it or until the Privy Council makes an adverse judicial ruling against us and we haven’t gotten anywhere near that point.

Johnson said: “We cannot allow these kinds of claims to be extinguished on a mere technicality. An issue like this can have a serious effect on overall investor confidence. This claim arose as a result of the government engaging with third party investors to seek a waste to energy power plant.  All of the due diligence was carried out at my client’s expense.”

Stellar Energy’s appeal sought to challenge a ruling by Supreme Court deputy registrar Carol Misiewicz, who found that the company and its affiliates were “from any angle unable to sustain an action” against Wells, Allen and his law firm, and Forbes’ firm, Sigma Management, “on the basis of the LOI”.

She determined the LOI, the signing of which forced Mr Wells’ from the Christie administration, “was not binding in law” and represented “a discussion document” rather than a completed contract. 

Misiewicz also branded Stellar Energy’s claims against Allen and Forbes as “bad” given that they were not parties to the now-notorious LOI.

Wells, who is currently minister of transport and local government, became embroiled in controversy in mid-July 2014 when the Stellar LOI was leaked to the media and he was accused of signing it on the Government’s behalf without the proper authorization.

At the time Wells served as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works.

The saga ultimately led to his dismissal from Government. Stellar had proposed to build a $650 million waste-to-energy plant on New Providence, has launched a legal attack over its failure to obtain a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and other associated documents which would enable the company to proceed with the project.