The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is hearing the case brought against the
government and Trinidad and Tobago for its failure to properly compensate policy
holders of BAICO/CLICO from the Eastern Caribbean, including Antigua and
The case management aspect opened on Wednesday, as the CCJ seeks to determine
whether T&T failed to promote the interests of consumers in the Caribbean
community, by not providing adequate and effective redress following the collapse
of CL Financial. President of the British American Insurance Co. Ltd and Colonial
Life Insurance Co. Ltd Policyholders Group (Bacol), Dr Patrick Antoine says the
wait for the start of the case is finally over.
The legal action filed by Bacol represents policyholders of British American
Insurance from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts &
Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We have a right as consumers, to be treated equitably and to be given the same
access as T&T customers. The avenues must in fact be adequate and they must be
effective, and we argued that we were not given the avenues of access when there
was the meltdown that were adequate or effective,” Antoine said.
Bacol represents 2,000 policyholders with investments worth nearly EC$800
million (US$296 million).
“We have the opportunity to air the first case before the court, and that has not
been done in any case of this nature in the Caribbean at all. We are happy that the
whole case is going to have a chance to be heard by the court, and so we are
equally confident as we were before. This is because the grounds are all tied one to
the other: removal of restrictions, imposition of the restrictions and of course the
grounds that are different in all of this, is the one which talks about protecting
consumer rights. The consumer rights we are talking about are the rights for us to
essentially have adequate and effective redress in instances such as the ones that
we are discussing,” Antoine said.
Antoine said the matter was filed a little shy of two years ago and has the
possibility of being determined by the first quarter of next year.
“There are several things that we are looking at. History must never record that we
did not try to fight for our rights as we view them in the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
History must never record the people of the Eastern Caribbean in that way, and
indeed it shall not,” he said.
On March 2, the CCJ dismissed the majority of the claims brought by Bacol who
alleged that T&T had breached various articles of the Revised Treaty of
Chaguaramas in the aftermath of the collapse of CL Financial.
Bacol argued that the measures taken by the Government of TT in its
intervention in and assistance to CL Financial and its subsidiaries, were
discriminatory and breached Articles 7, 36, 37 and 38 of the Revised Treaty.
The claimants alleged that the bailout measures were taken to rescue CL Financial
and all subsidiaries registered in T&T. But this same protection was not offered to
them as policyholders of British American Insurance Company Limited.