Billes v ITL Corporation

JurisdictionCayman Islands
CourtGrand Court (Cayman Islands)
Judge(Sanderson, J.)
Judgment Date10 May 2001
Date10 May 2001
Grand Court

(Sanderson, J.)


J.H. Malins, Q.C. and P.A. Broadhurst for the plaintiffs;

Ms. B. Dohmann, Q.C., and N.R.F.C. Timms for the third and fourth defendants;

K.J. Farrow for the fifth defendant, Mr. Tibbetts.

Cases cited:

(1) Att.-Gen. v. Leveller Magazine Ltd., [1979] A.C. 440; [1979] 1 All E.R. 745.

(2) Brown v. Green Thumb Nursery & Landscaping Ltd., 1996 CILR 83, considered.

(3) D.P.R. Futures Ltd. (No. 00681 of 1989), In re, [1989] 1 W.L.R. 778; (1989), 5 BCLC 603, considered.

(4) Jefferson Ltd. v. Bhetcha, [1979] 1 W.L.R. 898; [1979] 2 All E.R. 1108, considered.

(5) R. v. Bernardo, Ontario High Ct., 1993; on appeal, sub nom. Thomson Newspapers Ltd. v. R.(1994), 121 D.L.R. (4th) 42; 95 C.C.C. (3d) 437.

(6) R. v. ClementENR(1821), 4 B. & Ald. 218; 106 E.R. 918.

(7) R. v. Poulson, [1974] Crim. L.R. 141n.

(8) Taylor v. Att.-Gen., [1975] 2 NZLR 675, followed.

Civil Procedure-stay of proceedings-related Cayman proceedings-applicant for stay of civil action to show real risk of prejudice in criminal trial justifying interference with plaintiff”s right to pursue claim-lapse of time between civil and criminal trials and trial judge”s opportunity to assess influence of publicity on jury relevant

Civil Procedure-reporting of proceedings-media ban-court may prohibit publication or broadcasting of evidence in and outcome of civil proceedings until after conclusion of related criminal trial

The plaintiffs brought proceedings against the defendants, alleging, inter alia, conspiracy to defraud.

The defendants were sued for their respective roles in a fraudulent investments scheme, as a result of which the plaintiffs and other investors lost very large sums of money. The trial was due to be heard in the autumn of 2001 or early in 2002. The fifth defendant, an individual, was also charged with criminal offences arising from his alleged involvement in the scheme. If committed for trial, he would be tried in 2003. He applied for an order to adjourn the civil trial until after his criminal trial was concluded, or alternatively, for an order that the plaintiffs” civil claim against him be severed from the main action and heard separately after his criminal trial.

He submitted that if the civil trial were held first, the publicity surrounding an adverse outcome would prejudice his right to a fair criminal trial, since the jury might be influenced by it.

The plaintiffs submitted that (a) any postponement of the civil trial would be prejudicial to them, since (i) they were entitled to advance their claims and recover their losses without delay, and (ii) the first plaintiff was advanced in age and had already suffered a heart attack; and (b) the application should be dismissed because directions for the civil trial had been given in December 2000, and the fifth defendant had delayed in seeking an adjournment.

Held, making the following order:

(1) The court had a discretion to adjourn or stay civil proceedings until the conclusion of a related criminal trial if the defendant showed that it

was just and convenient that the plaintiff”s right to proceed with his civil claim should be interfered with. In this case, the court was not satisfied that there was such a real risk of prejudice to the fifth defendant in his criminal trial as to justify a stay of the plaintiffs” action. Given the scale of the alleged fraud, which had resulted in the liquidation of one of the Cayman defendants and criminal proceedings here and in the United States, there would inevitably be some publicity surrounding the civil proceedings here. However, the impact of that publicity would have diminished by the time the criminal trial took place 12–18 months later, and the trial judge would then be in a position to determine whether potential jurors had been influenced by it and...

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