Tanfield Chambers in Privy Council hearing
26th June 2015
On 25 June 2015 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council heard an appeal from the Bahamas Court of Appeal in a dispute concerning the management of a condominium in Grand Bahama: Metaxides v Swart & Others JCPC 2013/0062; Silver Point Condominium Association v same JCPC 2013/0073. Chris Maynard led Edwin Knowles, of Sessions House Chambers, Freeport, Grand Bahama, for the first appellant, Apollon Metaxides. The Board, comprising Lords Neuberger, Clarke, Carnwath, Toulson and Hodge, has reserved judgment.
The principal question was whether a compromise of earlier proceedings was a nullity because those proceedings had been brought against a non-existent defendant.
In 1968 a Bahamas company called Silver Point Limited made a Declaration of Condominium in respect of a parcel of land over just over 3 acres next to the sea on the south side of the island of Grand Bahama. This included a striking, newly constructed apartment block in the modernist style designed by a celebrated Florida architect called Robert Swartzberg. The declaration established a corporate body, to be known as Silver Point Condominium Apartments, made up of all the owners of the units within the property, in which the management of the condominium was vested.
In 2006 a group of owners of units within the condominium commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Bahamas to resolve issues in a long-running disagreement between different factions within the corporate body about the management of the condominium. Mr Metaxides was the lead plaintiff. In the short title of the Originating Summons the defendant was called “Silver Point Limited”. An Amended Originating Summons was filed three days later in which the name of the defendant in the short title appeared as “Silver Point Limited (Silver Point Condominium Apartments)”. By its board of directors, the corporate body defended the proceedings and negotiated the compromise with the plaintiff owners.
Some owners of units objected strongly to the compromise. In 2010 a group of them started fresh proceedings in an attempt to have the compromise agreement and the consent order set aside. Amongst other things, they argued that because Silver Point Limited no longer existed at the time 2006 proceedings commenced (that company having been struck off in 1996) those proceedings were void from the outset and all orders made within them were nullities. That argument failed at first instance but it succeeded in the Bahamas Court of Appeal, which refused leave to Mr Metaxides for a further appeal.
In 2013 Chris Maynard settled an application to the Privy Council for permission to appeal, which was granted on paper. The argument on the appeal was that, upon their true construction, even if there had been mistake of nomenclature, the 2006 proceedings plainly had been commenced against the corporate body established by the 1968 declaration.
In the meantime, the respondents, who had been successful below, launched proceedings for assessment and for enforcement of the costs orders made in the Bahamas Court of Appeal. Chris Maynard has also advised in relation to the assessment proceedings (which led to the opponents’ bill of costs being reduced by more than 60%), and in relation to resisting seizure of the client’s apartment by way of enforcement of the remaining costs liability.