CLICO Policyholders win landmark judgment

13 March 2013

The High Court in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, has given judgment for the United Policyholders Group in their application for judicial review of the Government’s plan to compensate policyholders in the failed insurance giant, CLICO. Several hundred policyholders, represented by Peter Knox QC and Robert Strang, argued that the Government’s plan, which would have required policyholders to accept a lesser sum than was owed to them by CLICO, was unlawful, because the Government was acting in breach of binding promises to them to protect their investments in full.

Madam Justice Joan Charles ruled in favour of the Claimants and ordered the government to pay them their full entitlements. She found that the Government had made binding promises to the Claimants engendering a legitimate expectation of a substantive benefit. She held that it was therefore incumbent on the Government to justify a breach of its promises in the public interest, but the Government had failed to put forward evidence to justify its case. She also held that the Government had failed properly to take into account its previous promises and had acted wholly unfairly and disproportionately in denying the Claimants information as to the value of rights they were being asked to surrender.

The judgment was front-page news in Trinidad.