Guyana Bank for Trade & Industry v Desiree Alleyne [2011] CCJ 5 (AJ)

 By Renaldo Toote, Eugene Dupuch Law School

Ms Alleyne was a director of Wilson Enterprises, a Guyanese company which borrowed money from the Appellant Bank. The company defaulted on the loan and the bank sued Ms Alleyne as she had signed a guarantee acknowledging her personal liability to repay the loan. Ms Alleyne’s defence to the suit was that her signature on the guarantee was forged. The Bank led evidence by two of its officers, Ms Shaw and Mr Chen showing that Ms Alleyne signed the guarantee in the presence of two witnesses. It also filed computer printouts to show that Wilson Enterprises had defaulted on their loan payments and that the company owed the Bank in excess of $10 million. The trial judge ruled in favour of the Bank. The Court of Appeal set aside this decision and ordered a re-trial on the basis that the evidence surrounding Ms Alleyne’s signature was inconsistent and the bank had not shown that it had made a written demand for payment of the loan.

The Bank successfully appealed this decision to the CCJ. The Court emphasized that appellate courts should be cautious in interfering with findings of fact made by a trial judge. The trial judge had the advantage of seeing and hearing the witnesses and his findings should only be overturned in exceptional cases. The fact that the Court of Appeal may have come to a different conclusion based on the evidence presented is not a sufficient basis for ordering a re-trial.

The Court also set out the procedure for computer printouts to be admitted into evidence. Under section 91 of the Evidence Act computer printouts must be accompanied by a written certificate or oral evidence from the person responsible for computer operations showing that the computer was functioning properly. The Court acknowledged that this procedure was not followed in this case. However this did not mean that the records were inadmissible evidence. Ms Alleyne’s attorney did not object to them and therefore had waived any objection that the requirements of section 91 were not met.

Caribbean Court of JusticeThe Bank was therefore entitled to succeed in its claim for repayment of the loan, having proved both the company’s indebtedness and Ms Alleyne’s guarantee.

This summary is intended to assist the Caribbean public in learning more about the work of the CCJ. It is not a formal document of the Court. The judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document and may be found at http:// www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/JUDGMENT-CV4_2010.pdf