Diamonds took eons to form in the earth's upper mantle. The legal dispute between a Prince Albert company and a Belgian firm over a long-standing diamond debt is starting to feel just as long.
In a Prince Albert Queen’s Bench courtroom Tuesday the defendant, Prince Albert’s Embee Diamond Technologies Inc. (which is run by City Councilor Evert Botha), applied to have the long-running legal matter moved to the Belgian courts. The plaintiff, I.D.H of Belgium, is seeking payment for an order of diamonds it supplied Embee in 2011. Legal proceedings started in late 2015, and the debt now sits at approximately $850,000 including interest.
Embee has already lost two court rulings – one in provincial court and the other in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal - in which they argued, in part, to have the debt claim dismissed based on the statute of limitations. They argued too much time had passed since the debt was incurred, though the Appeal Court ruled the limitation period had not expired.
In their latest legal bid to contest the debt, Embee’s lawyer Peter V. Abrametz claimed Saskatchewan does not have jurisdiction on the matter, in part because invoices sent by I.D.H along with their claim for payment stipulated that Belgian law applies. Abrametz also cited Canadian Supreme Court precedent regarding foreign contracts, and said this case needs to be settled in Belgium.
Justice Daryl E. Labach questioned why the attempt to have the matter moved overseas was only made recently.
“Previously, you were happy no one raised the [jurisdictional] issue,” said Labach. “You had an adverse ruling, and only now are you asking for matters to be moved to Belgium. Why didn’t your client plead Belgian jurisdiction earlier?”
In response, Abrametz said the whole matter of Belgian jurisdiction came from I.D.H. via their invoices of claim, and said it was I.D.H. who wanted matters handled there. Abrametz said “the onus is on the plaintiff” to say why they did not insist on matters proceeding in the Belgian courts.
The lawyer for the plaintiff, Jenn Pereira, said Embee’s counsel is “stringing the court along because judgement is imminent.” She said Embee knew from the outset the plaintiff had asked for the Belgian legal system to handle things, so why bring it up now?
Pereira said the defendants were a Prince Albert company and the diamonds were now in Canada, so Saskatchewan is the appropriate jurisdiction for the case.
On Tuesday, Embee’s counsel also applied to cross-examine an employee of I.D.H. in Belgium, whose affidavits are part of the evidence in the case. Pereira said she had previously agreed the cross-examination, if it were allowed by the court, should happen from Saskatchewan via Skpe, and not in Belgium.
Justice Labach asked for some time to consider the request. His decision is expected in the coming weeks.
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