Court dismisses conspiracy claim against B.C. resort company

The civil suit ensnared Replay Resorts in international battle over Antigua resort property

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged a B.C. company was “unjustly enriched” by its acquisition of a multimillion-dollar island property in Antigua.

Three defendants were named in a B.C. lawsuit brought by H.M.B. Holdings Ltd. (HMB). The action is one of several legal battles HMB has launched in Canada, the U.S. and Antigua since the Government of Antigua expropriated its picture-perfect property in 2002.

A court order provided to BIV states that an application to dismiss a notice of civil claim against Replay Resorts Inc., headquartered in Vancouver, and Freetown Destination Resort Ltd. was allowed on August 20. BIV was told reasons were published earlier this week. The claim against a third defendant – Half Moon Bay CIP Management Inc. – was dismissed in July.

In 2015, Replay bought the lucrative land formerly owned by HMB from the Antiguan government for a reported US$23 million – more than a decade after the government lawfully expropriated the property from HMB.

HMB’s conspiracy action, now dismissed, claimed the government “continually failed” to compensate HMB for the land it seize, and “therefore breached its fiduciary duty owed to the plaintiff” under the country’s constitution. HMB further claimed the defendants “were wilfully blind” to and “participated in or assisted” the government’s breaches.

In July, the BC Supreme Court found that the notice of civil claim against Half Moon Bay CIP Management Inc. failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action, and did not contain a bare minimum of material facts to support a conspiracy claim – in this case, that the defendants agreed to structure the purchase of the resort property to their unlawful benefit.

The reasons for judgment also noted that HMB remains entitled to the compensation it is owed by the government of Antigua, and that its conspiracy claim “has had no effect on HMB’s entitlement.” The court additionally called HMB’s suit and the damages it sought a “veiled collateral attack” on an order from Antigua’s highest court, which had established the value of the expropriated property, and an abuse of the process of the court.

A lawyer for Replay confirmed that the reasons in the July judgment that dismissed the claims against Half Moon Bay CIP Management Inc. are the same reasons for dismissing the claims against Replay and Freetown Destination.

A lawyer for HMB stated that the decisions related to the action are under appeal. He said those will likely be heard in the first quarter of 2020.

A trial is scheduled for 2021.