As we reported last week, there's a major disturbance in the banana industry because Meridian Enterprises is suing Fyffes. Meridian is the company which took over Maya King's banana farms after owner John Zabaneh was commercially blacklisted by a Kingpin designation. Meridian was a management company run by Zabaneh's mother - so that the Kingpin designation would not affect Maya King farms, Belize's largest banana producer at the time.
Fyffes kept buying form Meridian until an October 2015 7News article quoted Zabaneh speaking on behalf of Meridian. After that, Fyffes - which is an Irish company - immediately cut all ties with Meridian - because of the Kingpin taint. As a result of that - Meridian had no one to sell its bananas to, and its farms were forced into closure - causing hundreds of farm workers to lose their jobs.
Eamon Courtenay is representing Meridian, and he explained the case:
Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for Meridian Enterprise
"Yes, we have been retained to represent Meridian. We have filed a claim against Fyffes and Fyffes is supposed to file their defense. The claim is for breech and for damages that has been suffered by Meridian as a result of Fyffes refusing to receive bananas from Meridian and to export them, as they were required to do. The claim is in its early stages. We haven't seen what their defense is. So, I can't say what position they're going to take. But, I suspect in the new year, it's going to a matter on the legal calendar."
"Having reviewed it, are you of the opinion that Meridian has a winning case?"
Eamon Courtenay, SC
"Well, I mean - we don't take cases and don't go to court in situations where you don't believe that looking at the facts and the law, you have a case to make out. It's a matter for the judges to decide. We have advised Meridian of the strengths and weaknesses of their case. And, they have instructed us to proceed, and so, you know, we will go and we see the evidence. And, as always with these things, sometimes you lose at first instance, and you have to go to Court of Appeal, or you have to go to the CCJ. But, we believe that there is merit, and there is an arguable case, and so, we will present it."
Fyffes is represented by Rodwell Williams of Barrow and Williams.