A Tobago businesswoman has lost her lawsuit against her former lawyer over a failed property deal.
Eleonore Nollet-Neuhaus sued attorney Samantha Lawson in 2015 after a deal for the sale of her $3.9 million property fell through when a British buyer was unable to obtain a licence under the Foreign Investment Act for the purchase.
Nollet-Neuhaus claimed that she was still entitled to a 10 per cent deposit which was paid by the prospective buyer.
Delivering an oral judgment in the Port-of-Spain High Court after both women testified yesterday, Justice Frank Seepersad dismissed Nollet-Neuhaus’ case as he ruled that she was aware of the possible bar to the sale when she struck the deal.
“It is evident that the claimant was acutely aware as to the restrictions which affected the property,” Seepersad said.
However, Seepersad strongly criticised Lawson for drafting the sale agreement in a “poor and substandard manner” and for failing to properly record how the deposit was paid.
In the agreement, Lawson had stated that the deposit was to be paid by the purchaser to Nollet-Neuhaus, however, while testifying yesterday she claimed the money was transferred before the agreement was signed.
Nollet-Neuhaus had claimed that the deposit was held on escrow by Lawson for the parties and she (Lawson) admitted that she did not correct her (Nollet-Neuhaus) when she first requested payment after the deal was terminated.
Lawson also admitted that she did not seek to recover the deposit from Nollet-Neuhaus on behalf of the buyer after the deal fell through.
While Lawson would have been entitled to her legal costs for the lawsuit as she successfully defended the claim, Seepersad ruled that each party should bare their own costs due to her (Lawson) handling of the property deal.
In her lawsuit, Nollet-Neuhaus was also claiming that Lawson had a conflict of interest in the deal as she (Lawson) had represented her in her divorce battle over the same property.
Seepersad rejected this as he pointed out that it was the prospective buyer, who paid Lawson for the subsequent deal and not Nollet-Neuhaus.
Nollet-Neuhaus was represented by Thomas Cunningham and Stefan Mungalsingh.