City, Embee do battle at Queen’s Bench

The Court of Queen's Bench in Prince Albert, seen from behind the war memorial statue.

The city’s legal battle with Embee Diamonds is continuing, as legal representatives faced off in court Tuesday arguing a legal injunction that would allow Embee Diamonds regular access to their building.

Embee diamonds is seeking an injunction to get the city to either change the locks back or to provide the company with a key so they can continue business while the sides debate a clause of the landlord-tenant act.

According to Embee, the city ignored the act when it moved unilaterally to lock Embee out of 1203 Central Avenue.

The issue is an ongoing saga between Embee Diamonds, whose Chief Operating Officer is city councillor Evert Botha, and the City.

The dispute over unpaid taxes has gone on for five years.

The city took possession of the diamond cutting facility after the previous owner, a holding company in which Embee held a 40 per cent stake, failed to pay its taxes. The balance now stands at about $176,000.

This is the second time Embee has sought an injunction. Its first application was denied, as it hasn’t included the proper paperwork.

Peter Abrametz Senior, representing Embee in court Tuesday, made an impassioned plea to Justice Danyliuk on behalf of his client, accusing the city of acting improperly.

Abrametz argued that the city didn’t meet it’s obligations under legislation, citing a portion of the tax enforcement act that deals with the rights of a tenant of a building when the owner changes hands due to being in tax arrears.

While Mitchell Holash of Novus Law Group did not argue with the same dramatic flair as Abrametz, he did accuse Abrametz of presenting “alternate facts”

He defended the city’s actions to change the locks.

‘The city has not acted abruptly,: he said.

“There’s been a five-year history of unmet promises, not just to the city, but apparently to other creditors.”

He also argued that by changing the locks the city did what lawyers, including Ambrametz, instruct clients to do all the time when they are owed payment.

For more on this story, please see the April 26 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.