A former Commanding Officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment and his wife have filed an appeal against the court order to pay back nearly $3 million to his mother-in-law in outstanding loans and interest.
Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lamb and Ruby Lightbourne-Lamb received $1,921,443 from Mrs Lightbourne-Lamb’s parents — Gwyneth and Willard Lightbourne — in four payments between 2003 and 2009. The vast majority of the funds was to be invested in property.
Mr Lightbourne owned and operate the Brightside apartment complex in Flatts with his wife.
He died in January 2011, leaving the two families in a legal wrangle over the payments ever since.
Mr Lightbourne’s widow insisted that none of the loans were absolved.
She also maintained that the single payment of more than $1.5 million — which came out of her and her husband’s joint account and represented their life savings — was never intended as a gift.
The court heard last year that by 2010 the couple had paid off just $116,000 of the loan.
Both Colonel Lamb and his wife maintained that $1,556,447 transferred in September 2009 was a gift from Mrs Lightbourne-Lamb’s terminally ill father. They further claimed that, at the time of the gift, Mr Lightbourne had said he would write off what the couple still owed on all their other debts, which stood at about $250,000.
The ruling to pay back the full amount was handed down in August last year by Puisne Judge Shade Subair, who noted that there was “a profound family divide” between mother and daughter.
“In my judgment, the defendants’ assertion that they owe no monies on the basis that this loan was forgiven in 2009 is a desperate concoction designed to escape the cloud of financial liability lurking,” she said.
“While I accept that the deceased would not have likely prosecuted these claims himself in a court of law. I also find that he never truly intended to relieve either defendant from their liability under the law to make full repayment.
“It is more likely than not that he was simply prepared to show the defendants some leniency by extending the time frame within which payment could be made.”
She ordered the couple to pay Mrs Lightbourne $1,804,591 — the outstanding balance from the $1,921,443 originally borrowed.
With interest, the total amount goes over $2 million.
Notice of the Appeal was filed by Ruby Lightbourne Lamb as the First Appellant and Lieutenant Colonel Edward J Lamb as the Second Appellant vs Brightside Enterprises Ltd, the First Respondent and Gwyneth Lightbourne Second Respondent.
The appeal cites several grounds, and states:
Appellant being dissatisfied with the decision of the Supreme Court contained in the judgment of the Supreme Court dated July 31 (but not received until August 1).
Ground of Appeal for 2O14: 192 (“Corporate Matter“)
- The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the company’s minutes dated December 7, 2OO9 and October 5, 2O12.
- The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the authenticity of the transaction record.
- The Learned Judge wrongly concluded that these document were valid and supported the contention of a loan.
- The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the contention that the First Appellant made partial repayments on the $9O,OOO payment made to her.
- The Learned Judge failed to consider that the real source of the payment was Gwen Will Lightbourne Trust Fund and not the company.
- The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider that no loan agreement was made, and no partial repayments were made.
- The Learned Judge failed to properly consider the various discrepancies in the evidence related to the Corporate Claim and could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the claim had been proven. More specifically, the Learned Judge wrongly concluded that the First Appellant “played a major role in the management in the finances of the Company“.
Grounds of Appeal for 2015: 130 (“Personal Matter“)
Combined Payments 1 ($165,000) and 3 ($50,000)
8. The Learned Judge wrongly concluded that the loan reflected in the Loan Agreement dated January 30, 2003 was not forgiven.
9. The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the authenticity of the Loan Agreement dated February 24, 2009,
10. The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the authenticity of the documents entitled “Revised Loan 3“.
11. The Learned Judge wrongly concluded that the documents referred to in grounds 9 and 1O above were valid.
Payment 2 ($150,000)
12. The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the authenticity of the Loan Agreement dated February 5, 2023.
13. The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the authenticity of the document entitled “Loan 2“.
14. The Learned Judge failed to properly, or at all, consider the authenticity of the document entitled “st account history“.
15. The Learned Judge wrongly concluded that the documents referred to in paragraphs 12 14 above were valid.
16. The Learned Judge wrongly concluded that the loan reflected in the Loan Agreement dated February 5, 2003 was not forgiven.
Payment 4 ($1,556,443.07)
17. In the absence of any evidence of a written or oral loan agreement in connection with Payment 4, the Learned Judge wrongly concluded that Payment 4 was a loan.
18. It is specious to conclude that a loan agreement for such a substantial amount would be concluded without written documentation in support.
19. The Learned Judge was wrong when she found that it was “the practice of the Mother and the Deceased to lend, not gift, the Daughter with significant amounts of money“ in the face of the evidence that Payment 4 was made without any written loan agreement in place. This is particularly so when the validity of the loan agreements on which she relies are themselves in issue and disputed.
20. The Learned Judge failed to consider the various discrepancies in the Second Respondents evidence relating to Payment 4 and could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the claim that it was a loan had been proven.
21. The Learned Judge failed to consider the various discrepancies in the evidence related to Payment 4 and could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that undue influence had been proven.
22. The Learned Judge erred in law when applying the common law test of undue influence.
23. The Learned Judge erred when she came to the conclusion that there was undue influence. More specifically, having assessed the Second Respondent as having “an acute sense of awareness“ and all her faculties during the trial, and placing much veracity and reliance on the Second Respondent’s version of events, it is inconsistent and wrong to go on to make a finding that she was “particularly vulnerable“.
24. That the findings are not supportive by the evidence, and
25. Any other grounds which appear upon receipt of the transcript.
4. Relief sought from the Court of Appeal
i. To quash the ruling of the Supreme Court dated July 31, 2O23
5. Persons directly affected by the Appeal
1. Brightside Enterprises Ltd co Walkers Ltd, Park Place, 55 Par La Ville Road, Hamilton
2. Gweneth Irene Lightbourne co Walkers Ltd, Park Place, 55 Par La Ville Road, Hamilton
Colonel Lamb, who served for 26 years in the regiment, leading the regiment between 2006 and 2009, became the Commissioner of Corrections and held the post for 12 years before securing a number of top-level Civil Service positions.