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Court denies City in battle with lender

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City Hall in Hamilton (File photograph)

The Supreme Court of Bermuda has refused an application by the Corporation of Hamilton for a stay of proceedings in relation to an action by Mexico Infrastructure Finance LLC to seek recognition here of a $22.5 million judgment delivered in its favour in the Southern District of New York.

An appeal of that judgment, which was delivered last October, has been launched by the corporation.

That matter has not been scheduled by the New York Court of Appeal, but is expected to be heard in September, with a decision anticipated by the end of this year, or early in 2025.

In the meantime, MIF is seeking recognition of the New York court’s judgment in the Supreme Court here.

The corporation applied for a stay of those proceedings pending the Court of Appeal’s decision in New York.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams heard the matter yesterday in the commercial division of the Supreme Court.

After a three-hour hearing, she refused the application for a stay, for reasons to come later in a written judgment.

Mark Diel, representing the corporation, told the court: “This is an exercise, dare I say it in a court of law, in common sense and case management.

“If the US appeal is successful, this will obviate the need for a summary judgment hearing.”

He added: “The outcome of the US court of appeal’s decision may well impact how the summary judgment is argued before your ladyship.”

Mr Diel said the “essential question” for Mrs Justice Subair Williams to consider was whether the summary judgment application should be heard before or after the New York court of appeal decision.

He added: “The obvious answer is ‘after’. The outcome of the US appeal may greatly reduce, or extinguish, the Bermuda action. That is a good reason for the US action to come first.”

Keith Robinson, representing MIF, said: “The corporation is not entitled to come to this court and say there should be a stay of hearing of the summary judgment because it suits them.

“There is no authority to suggest that a court should give a case management stay.”

He added: “Where the court is asked for a case management stay, the crux of the matter is whether it is in the interests of justice to grant a case management stay.”

Mr Robinson said that parties in his client’s position are “entitled to expect the court to decide whether it has an enforceable judgment”.

He added: “The purpose of the court is to decide cases, not to put them off based on what a foreign court might decide.”

Counsel for the parties said they expect the summary judgment matter to be heard in the latter part of this year.

The latest instalment of a long-running battle has its roots in the failed Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences project, which has tied up courts in Bermuda, New York and London for the best part of a decade.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams (File photograph)
Lawyer Mark Diel (File photograph)
Lawyer Keith Robinson (File photograph)