MoBay businesswoman spared debtor's jail
A Montego Bay businesswoman wept on Thursday after the Supreme Court set aside a US$500,000 default judgement for which she was hauled before the Debtor's Court by a relative after she failed to make the payment.
"She was so excited and happy when we won Thursday evening," said her attorney Hugh Wildman, "she cried tears of joy."
Rosemarie Lee, who owns a plaza and bakery in Montego Bay, St James, was sued by relative Ryan Excell over the hefty sum (the equivalent of J$54 million), which he claimed she owed him.
Excell reportedly sent money for Lee to take care of his business, before he was incarcerated in the United States of America.
Following his return to Jamaica, in the early 2000s, Lee reportedly turned over a townhouse she purchased for J$5.5 million in Excell's name to him and monies that were lodged in various accounts.
But Excell reportedly demanded an additional US$500,000. He subsequently filed suit against her in the Supreme Court after she failed to honour a promissory note she had signed stating that she would give him the money.
But Lee's previous lawyer did not file a defence in the case and judgement was entered, in default, in Excell's favour.
When she couldn't honour the judgement, Excell took her to Debtor's Court to have her jailed.
Lee subsequently retained Wildman, who applied to have the default judgement set aside.
The woman noted in her affidavit that the promissory note was signed under duress.
Importantly, Wildman, citing old English cases, argued before Justice Kirk Anderson that the promissory note was void because the stamp duty wasn't paid.
He argued that the note wasn't stamped seven days after execution, in keeping with the requirement of sections 35 and 36 of the Stamp Duty Act.
Citing the Privy Council Lords, Wildman also raised the point that the court still had the jurisdiction to set aside the ruling because Lee, on her defence, had a reasonable chance of success.
He also raised the point that the note was signed under duress.
On Thursday, Anderson set aside the judgement and allowed Lee to file her defence in Excell's lawsuit over the US$500,000. She has 42 days to file her defence.