Cricket : Drakes loses case against CWI

Former Barbados and West Indies all-rounder Vasbert Drakes has had his claim for breach of contract for services – which he contended was unlawfully terminated by Cricket West Indies – dismissed in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court on Thursday, and ordered to pay costs.

High Court judge Jan Drysdale said in her judgment Drakes did not satisfy the court that his contract of engagement was unlawfully terminated much earlier than he had expected.“The claimant (Drakes) has failed to demonstrate a policy, promise, or practice, which in any event would lead to the conclusion that the contract had been varied to extend its end date,” Judge Drysdale wrote in her opinion.

Drakes, 52, now the Barbados Pride head coach, sued CWI after he was relieved of the position of assistant coach of the West Indies men’s team, following the dismissal of then interim head coach Richard Pybus four years ago.
He sought damages for breach of contract, claiming that the contract “partly in writing, partly oral, partly by the conduct of the parties” was to extend his engagement until August 2019, but CWI unlawfully terminated the contract on April 10 the same year.

CWI argued, however, the contract expired by effluxion (expiration) of time on March 11.

Judge Drysdale said analysis of the law in the claim rested upon whether the oral representations, course of conduct, or both, of CWI, gave rise to an implied contract between the two parties. She added to satisfy the court, Drakes had to demonstrate that Pybus had the requisite authority to offer him the position, or to set any terms of engagement, or both.“An examination of the statement of claim does not yield any pleading that Mr. Pybus had the requisite authority to act for and or bind the defendant (CWI),” the judge’s opinion stated.

Judge Drysdale said the parties signed a contract that reflected the end date, and CWI was not obligated to inform Drakes of it, and there was no stipulation of an automatic renewal if they failed to do so.
She also said other evidence presented by Drakes in his claim and testimony did not meet “the requisite burden to establish an implied contract”.

Only Drakes presented evidence in support of his claim, and CWI relied on three witnesses – CEO Johnny Grave, Senior Manager of Cricket Operations Roland Holder, and West Indies men’s team operations manager Rawl Lewis.
In testimony, Drakes said he received a contract for employment from CWI, but it stipulated a shorter term than he had agreed with Pybus when he was asked to form part of the support staff for the home series against England in 2019.
He said he signed the agreement, but he treated it as only a partial expression of his entire contractual arrangement with CWI.

Drakes further said no one told him his engagement had ended after the England tour, and he continued to function “as if his engagement was continuing”.
He added he conducted research on opponents for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 England & Wales under direction from Pybus, completed rehabilitative work with a senior member of the squad, and was preparing to travel to Antigua for a training camp ahead of the tour of Ireland and the World Cup.

Drakes was represented by Ann Henry KC, Ralph Thorne KC, and Mandi Thomas, while Kendrickson Kentish appeared for CWI.

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