The Barbados High Court has ordered the locally-registered firm, Woodbank Investments Limited, to cease any further searches for “confidential” documents from construction company Innotech, its real estate affiliate Caribbean Lifestyles Limited, and the home of principal Anthony DaSilva.
In 2009, Woodbank Investments, being the first claimant and Christopher Andrew McHale, the second, had obtained a search order and ancillary injunction, authorising them to enter the defendants’ premises to search for, and seize certain documents which were categorised as confidential and legally privileged and which the claimants alleged to be unlawfully in the defendants’ possession.
But after consideration of the evidence during three sittings in January and February 2010, and February 14 this year, Madame Justice Maureen Crane-Scott handed down her decision by quashing that order.
Justice Cane-Scott noted that the order was issued on the basis of a lengthy affidavit sworn to on December 18, 2009 by McHale in which he set out certain facts in support of his belief that DaSilva and his two companies were wrongfully in possession of, and or had misappropriated confidential and legally privileged documents and information belonging to the claimants.
The judge said this material, as set out in McHale’s affidavit, related to pending assault proceedings arising out of a physical altercation between DaSilva and McHale in 2008 and to various disputes involving the same parties and their affiliates and, or associated companies.
These disputes, she added, were either being arbitrated or were pending before the High Court.
“The court is of the view that the evidence which the claimants have placed before it, is not of the required quality or kind to justify the further imposition or continuation of the search order, granted in December 2009,” ruled the justice.
She found too, that there was also a material non-disclosure in relation to the claimants’ true worth, “and on the evidence, a strong prima facie case of breach of confidence has not been established”.
“It follows that the defendants have succeeded on their application and it is accordingly the order of this court that the search order granted in December 2009 be discharged … [that] the defendants have leave to an inquiry before the Master on the cross-undertaking in damages … [and that] all documents and computer records seized under the search order and which are held by the supervising attorney and, or by the claimants or their advisors, shall be returned to the defendants,” Crane-Scott ruled.
The judge also gave DaSilva and his companies permission to keep copies of those seized documents and computer records, which correspond to the material specifically identified in two sections of the claim filed in the proceedings on December 21, 2009, solely for the purpose of the substantive legal proceedings already started.
“Costs of the application for discharge are awarded to the defendants and are certified fit for two attorneys-at-law and shall be assessed by the court, if not agreed,” the judge ordered. (EJ)