Attorney frustrated by pensions case

Superintendent of Pensions attends court and moves cases along

When attorney Waide DaCosta attends Summary Court on 23 January, it will be the sixth calendar year he has been coming to court with the same client for the same pension offence. 

“I guess I’ve been sentenced along with her,” he said, referring to Halcy Lofters and the now-defunct company Guardian Security. 

The matter has been in court since June 2008. It has been listed several times per year since and was back again on 24 October, when Chief Magistrate Nova Hall heard that the Crown was accepting a payment arrangement. 

Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson said $27,882.94 was owed by the company for contributions to a pension plan for employees. “Other cases are in the hundreds of thousands, but this is a small amount,” he said. He expressed hope that there would be closure within a few years, with a down payment of $6,095 and then $500 per month. 

Mr. DaCosta expressed his frustration. “I have to point out that she pleaded guilty in December 2008. If they had taken the $500 from then, we’d be finished. I have had to forego my fees so that these people can get their pension. My charity is wearing thin.” 

He explained that he and his client went to the Pensions Office, and that office said go to the pensions plan provider. The provider said go to the courts. Apparently, the pension provider would not accept the payment plan unless the court made an order, Mr. DaCosta said. When the previous offer was declined, his client began banking $500 per month toward payment.  

The magistrate did make the order and directed the defendant to return for sentencing in January. 

The National Pensions Law provides penalties for employers who fail to contribute to a pension plan for employees, but the Crown and the courts have tried to deal with defendants in a way that would enable employees to receive their pension benefits. 

Last week Wednesday, Mr. Ferguson returned to the chief magistrate’s court for more pension cases. This time, he was accompanied by Superintendent of Pensions Amy Wolliston.  

When attorney Clyde Allen appeared for one of the companies charged with failure to make pension contributions, he told the court he had been trying to arrange a meeting. With Ms Wolliston present, a meeting date was set. The defendant was directed to return to court on 13 December. Three other cases were set for mention the same date on the basis that there would be a meeting before then. 

In one matter, Mr. Ferguson told the court that the company owed more than $47,000 in pension contributions. The last proposal he had received was for payment of $200 per month. “I totally rejected that,” he said. 

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