IN TBB HIGH COURT OP JUSTICE’
SUIT NO. 62 OP 1995
SAINT LUCIA CO-OPBRATIVE B.ANK LIMITED
1. MICHABL MJLlNARO
2. ‘I’BBRBSA l!-DLlNARO
Mrs. B. Floissac-Fleming for Plaintiff
Mr . P. I. Foster for Defendants
1996: July 24;
d’Auvergne J. (In Chambers) .
By a writ of summons indorsed with a statement of claim filed am
t he 24th of January, 1995 the Plaintiff claimed the following.
(a) the sum of $195,974 . 20
(b) interest thereon at 14t per annum from 3rd November 1994
to date of payment.
(c) lot collection fee and
(d) the costs hereof.
On the 8th of February 1995 an appearance was filed and on the 28th
March, 1995 an affidavit of service was filed which stated that the
f irst named Defendant had been served on the 30th of January 1995.
Default Judgment dated 28th March 1995 was filed on the 28th April,
1995 and reads as follows:
“No defence having been served by the defendants herein, it is
this day adjudged that the defendants do pay the Plaintiff the
sum of $195,974.20 interest thereon at the rate of 14t per
annum from 3rd November, 1994 to date of payment, lOt
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Collection fee and CostS.”
On the 5th day of January, 1996 an application to set aside the
Judgment by Default supported by an affidavit of Michael MOlinaro”,
the first Defendant was filed.
The said affidavit reads as follows:
I MICHAEL MOLINARO of Vieux -~ort in the State of Saint Lucia,
doth make oath and say as follows to wit:-
1. That my Tv’life Theresa Molinaro (now residing in the-
U.S.A. ) and I are the Defendants in this suit, and that
I am duly authorised to swear to this Affidavit .
2. That we have been sued by the Plaintiff herein for thesum
of $183,909.53 allegedly due and owing at 2~
November, 1994 as well as for interest in the SUIUl at:
$~2,064.68 to 2nd November, 1994.
3. That we are not owing these sums of monies since we ha~
repaid sums totalling about $200,000 . 00 .
4. That we doth honestly and verily believe that we have~
good Defence with a chance of success which sheweth that
the Plaintiff’s accounts in mistakenly incorrect, more
particularly, as we have never been shown these accoun~
as to any payments against principal and those against
5. I humbly ask that the said Judgment entered by Default be”
The matter was set down to be heard on the 26th of January, 1996
and after four (4) adjournments was eventually heard on the 24th of
J uly, 1996.
Meanwhile, on the 5th of June, 1996 a Defence was filed on behalf
of the Defendants (herein after referred to as the Draft Defence) .
On the LOth at July, 1996 an Affidavit in Reply was filed by Rabiu.
Seales, branch manager of the Plaintiff and on the 23rd day’ or
J uly, 1996 a Supplementary Affidavit by Alnita Simmons, Managd~
Director of the Plaintiff was filed.
The latter affidavit was supported by an exnibit namely Hypothecal:Y
Obligation dated 25th April, 1984 by Michael viv~an Molinaro,
Theresa Molinaro (Elritha Molinaro as Surety) in favour of ‘I’he
Saint Lucia Co-operative Bank Limited. To secure “Debts anc:t.
liabilities” up LO a limit of $150,000.00 with interest thereon at
the rate of 14% per annum.
At the trial learned Counsel for the Defendants informed the Court
that to date the Judgment obtained in default of Defence on t:he:
28t h day of March and filed on the 28th day of April 1995 had no&
been served upon the Defendants.
By the application ‘ to set aside the Judgment by Default, the
supporting Affidavit and the draft defence, the Defendants appear’
to be denying that they owe the Plaintiff the sums claimed.
The a ffidavit in reply by Robin Seales, the branch manager of the
Plaintiff indicates that the Defendants was granted an originaL
loan (registered on the 3rd May, 1984 in Vol. 137a No . . i43964) for
the sum of $150,000.00 repayable over 10 years at the monthly
payment of $2,420.00, that from the inception the Defendants never
met t he required monthly repayments of the said $2,420 . 00 which
resulted in an increase of the mortgage loan, that the Defendants
queri ed the balance, the mortgage loan was recalculated by the
Plaint iff and an amount of $29,871.09 which had been overcharged in
interest was refunded in reduction of the mortgage loan and the
monthl y payment on the mortgage loan was recalculated so that the
required monthly payment was reduced to $1,982.27; that despite the
reduction the Defendants have failed to meet the said payment, but
have been paying an average monthly payment of $1,037.34 which is
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insufficient and has thus increased the mortgage loan balance and
that despite the fact that the Defendants have made more than 10
years of mortgage payments, that on the 22nd day of November, 1995
the mortgage loan stood at $207,406.45 and was made up as follows :
(a ) Interest payments $174,063.10
(b) principal payments $ 33.343.35
and that the balance on the 9th July, 1996 is as follows:
(a) Principal $186,109.53
(b) Interest $ 36.617.51
The Supplementary Affidavit of Alnita Simmons, Managing Director of
the Plaintiff is in fact a reply to the draft defence filed on the
5th June, 1996.
In that affidavit Alnita Simmons denies every paragraph of the
Defence and further states that any installment payments made in
the period 1985 – 1987 were duly recorded and that the defendants’
loan account was accordingly adjusted and that the contentions
raised’ in the defendants’ defence does not justify the grant of
leave to the defendants to set aside the Judgment entered by
default and that the application by the defendants be dismissed.
Learned Counsel for the defendants (from his written skeleton
argument~ submitted that Order 19 of the Rules of the Supreme Court
~970 provides for the setting aside or the varying of any Judgment
entered in default of Defence.
He commenced his arguments by repeating the pOSition as stated in
the classic case of Bvans v. Bartlam ~937 AC 473 . He ref erred
to .Alpine Bulk Transport Co. Inc . v. Saudi Hagle Shipping Co .
Inc. reported at 1986 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 221 and the recent decision
of the Court of Appeal of Barbados in Bank of -HovaScotia v.
Rpri 1e :1U:i.as >& CO. Ltd. reported i n (~992), 46 WIR page 33.
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The decision held in that- case is that in order to set asi.de a.
Default Judgment a Defendant must show not merely that it has an
arguable case but that its defence has merits to which the COUrt..
must pay heed:.
Learned Counsel s’Ub.’11itted that the defendants have an arguable case
He said that the plaintiff i1.; firstly I charging the defendants,
compound interest instead of simple interest and asserts that it: is.
entitled to do so when in fact it is not and secondly! that it is
claiming an amount well in excess of what it should be claim;n9f.
Learned Counsel quoted Halsbury’s Laws of England, Vol. 26 – 4th
Edition, Paragraph 559 which states:-
“When a judgment in default of appearance or defence has bee.tl:
greater amount than is due .
. or it bas been entered: for a;
. . . . . . . . . . it will be
set aside ex debito justitiae, apart from any consideration- as
to wbether there is a good defence on the merits. /I
He further referred to paragraph 519 of the above stated volume of
Halsbury’s and in particular footnote 6 which reads:-
” The. plaintiff may show by Affidavit in Reply that the Defence
set up is a sh~ or is unfounded in fact, but in order to
succeed he must make this clear beyond all reasonable doubt by
conclusive docwnentazy or other evidence.”
Learned Counsel submitted that there are substantial questions of
l aw to be tried and investigated with reference to the interest
r ate method of interest charges whether it was simple interest or
c ompo~~d interest and referred to Articles 1009 and 1685 of the
Civil code, and substantial questions of fact (which he enumerated)
t o be investigated.
Learned Counsel for the Plaintiff corranenced her arguments by
stressing that the judgment that learned Counsel for the Defence
was trying:: to set aside is a regular judgment.
She argued that it was not only whether the defendants have “an
arguable case” the- standard indicated in liValIs v-. Ba.rt:J..a..buE: CIa’
Sir Roger Ormrod said in the “Saudi liaglen case, the “arguabl.e.t”
defence must carry some degree of conviction.
She contended that the defendant’s defence does not demonstrate a
likelihood of success. She said that the lot Collection Fee is for
services by r.ounsel for debt collection and has been acceptedb?
the Bar of St. Lucia and pointed out that collection fee- was
claimed in the prayer and quoted paragraph 396 and 397 of Vol. 37
of Halsbury’s Laws of England, 4th Edition. She quoted Arti~le
1009 of the Civil code referred to earlier and urged the Court to
note the Hypothecary Obligation tendered as an exhibit. At let::te£
(e) “The Debts” means all sums of money (up to a limit of. one
hundred and fifty thousand ($150,000.00),
e(iii) “Charges for interest discount commission and other ,usual.
(iv) “all costs charges and expenses which the mortgage may ~
in obtaining payment or discharge of monies owed by the principaL
Debtor to the mortgagee or any part thereof or in paying any rent
rates taxes . ”
She said that the agreed rate varies, it is not static and in this
instance it varied from 11t to 14t,
She argued that the defence being sought to be filed was a sham and.
the application should be dismissed, that in the alternative the
j\ldgment should bp set aside on terms and quoted Order 13, ~ul~ e
of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the West Indies Associated
States 1970 and Order 13, Rule 9 sub-paragraph 14 of the United
Kingdom Supreme Court Practice 1995.
She concluded her arguments by repeating that the application
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should. ei.ther be,. dismissed 0:”:’ the- defendants- should be- ol:deJ:eciJI. t:ta’
pay into Court part of the judgment debt as the Court thinlta fit”
if , application be upheld.
Having listened to the arguments, r have arrived at the conclwB.om
tha.~ the defendants have demonstrated that they have a likp.l.i.lIacJo”
of success and therefore in the exercise of the discreti.~
,.powers invested in me, I grant leave for the defendants to :arti:.let
and re-serve the defence on the plaintiff by the 11th of NovemtM9r~
1996. I have ordered to refilc and re-serve since the defen~s
have already done so, albeit without the authority of the” CCJtH:t’
failing which judgment and costs to be taxed shall be grant~t~:
The defendants are to pay costs in any event to be agrE!eldil ClBi’
otherwise taxed occasioned by the’ setting aside of the defilaa:lt::.
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