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Ex-Harlequin accountants appeal $11.6m court judgement

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Ex-Harlequin accountants appeal $11.6m court judgement

Accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy has filed for an appeal against a High Court judgement ordering it to pay Harlequin Property SVG $11.6 million (£9.5 million).

Last year Harlequin made a $60 million claim against its former accountants Wilkins Kennedy for ‘breaches of contract and/or duty arising in connection with the development of a luxury resort at Buccament Bay, St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean’.

In December, Harlequin won one of its claims against Wilkins Kennedy. The judge, Justice Coulson, rejected five of the six claims Harlequin brought, but found in favour of the hotel development scheme in one of these claims.

The upheld claim related to overpayment of construction company ICE and in the end the judge ordered Wilkins Kennedy to pay Harlequin $11.6 million.

This figure was cut from over $20 million due to ‘contributory negligence’ on the behalf of Harlequin and its chairman David Ames.

However this week Wilkins Kennedy has filed for an appeal against this decision at the Court of Appeal.

This request is now subject to a judge deciding whether or not the case merits the appeal going forward, so it is not known at this stage whether or not it will go ahead.

Founded in 2005, Harlequin set out to develop a luxury resort in the Caribbean which attracted around 3,000 investors, many of which invested through IFAs.

Some of these IFA firms have since collapsed, resulting in payouts from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Harlequin employed Wilkins Kennedy as its accountants between 2006 and 2010. During that period, it employed contractor ICE Group to work on the resorts. However Harlequin claimed that ICE's works was delayed and not carried out as intended. Harlequin blamed Wilkins Kennedy, which was also acting for ICE, for the delays in construction, and this formed the basis of the case last year.

Tom Govan, communications director of Wilkins Kennedy said: ‘Although the court rejected all liabilities apart from one, we have spoken to our legal team and believe there is justification for an appeal. We have therefore applied to the court for permission to appeal against the judgement on a number of grounds.’

A spokesperson from Harlequin said: ‘We understand that Wilkins Kennedy have applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal after permission was rejected by the Justice Coulson on 12 December 2016.’

The full judgement in the High Court case can be read here.

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