Turks and Caicos civil recovery team provides update on progress

An account of this extensive maladministration was detailed at length in Sir Robin Auld’s Commission of Inquiry report.

Law firm Edwards Wildman was appointed after a competitive tender to work closely with the attorney general and the TCI government to pursue these cases.

 

Laurence Harris, deputy managing partner at   Edwards Wildman, has provided an update on the scale of the programme,   outlined progress on recoveries and laid out the likely timetable going   forward:
 
  “We have now opened 62 case files, an increase on last year’s figure of 51.   Our work covers a wide range of matters, some well known from the Commission   of Inquiry Report; others not identified by the Commission of Inquiry and   some which have only come to light since then. These claims cover the   recovery of land, damages, or both. As well as claims for corruption and   fraud, we have claims for breach of contract, for unjust enrichment, for   recovery of unpaid Stamp Duty and for other civil causes of action.
 
  “This time last year we had recovered nearly $2.4m in cash and around 900   acres of land. Both of those figures have risen very substantially over the   last twelve months. The cash already paid to the government, or agreed to be   paid, has now risen to $19.5m and land recoveries are now 2,508 acres.
 
  “And there is still much to do. Although several claims have concluded, we   are awaiting judgments on two significant cases, and several more are still   yet to go to trial. We have claims for many millions of dollars in damages   and for well over a thousand of acres of land, all still to be heard by the   TCI courts.
 
  “Inevitably we understand that much of the short term focus on the programme   is on how much cash has come in, particularly given the difficult financial   circumstances the TCI finds itself in. We appreciate that short term cash   helps with the immediate issue of balancing the books and we are doing our   very best to collect as much as we can. However, the much more valuable long   term asset is the land that has been recovered.
 
  “This land holds the key to help TCI generate long term revenues through   sharing profits with developers. As well as giving the government an   opportunity for a higher degree of ongoing control over how land is used this   approach allows the people of the TCI to share in the long term value of the   land. Used this way, the land recovered is worth a very large amount of money   – quite possibly over $100m – assuming it is used for long term partnerships.   Of course, the job of the civil recovery programme is just to get the land   back into the government’s hands – it is for the government to decide what to   do with it. But we hope that the very substantial value that is intrinsic to   the land we have recovered will be understood as bringing real long term   opportunity to TCI.
 
  “We remain on course to complete many of our cases by the end of the summer   2013. This year has seen our most intensive period of activity as many of our   cases come to trial. We have had trials and hearings every month but one so   far this year, often more than one a month, and that pace will continue. So   far this year we have been involved in seven major hearings or trials since   January and after this week, we have four more trials before the end of July.   By the time we get to that point we will have completed the majority of our   cases – subject of course to any appeals.
 
  “After July, we will still have a smaller number of cases which we will be   progressing forward and which will probably not reach trial until 2014,   unless they settle earlier. We continue to encourage settlement as a way of   bringing matters to an end more quickly, provided the settlement looks to be   sensible and appropriate, bearing in mind the size of the claim, and the   settlement is consistent with the government’s approach in other cases.
 
  “We have also been assisting Chambers with non-civil recovery cases for the   government, most notably the Trade Winds claim brought by the owners of the   Conch Farm against the government and the governor last year. We were   delighted that the Court of Appeal agreed with us that the claim should be   stayed for arbitration which had been our position all along. We now wait to   see whether the plaintiff decides to bring arbitration proceedings or not.   Hopefully they have decided to abandon the claims since those claims are   without any legal merit. Certainly so far since the Court of Appeal’s   decision the Conch Farm owners have not started any arbitration proceedings.   If they do so, those proceedings will be very strongly defended.
 
  “So, in summary: the civil recovery programme continues to make good   progress. We have made a substantial number of recoveries of cash and land;   and we expect to make more recoveries over the next few months. Many of our   cases will be completed by the end of the summer of this year, whilst a   smaller number of cases will continue into next year, as well appeals on the   completed cases.”

   

 

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