Ernie Blom has won the first stage of a legal battle against the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), from which he stepped down as president last month.
A court has threatened the WFDB with a $27m fine if it complies with a request to suspend him as a bourse member.
Mr Blom challenged the right of the WFDB to have him banned from one of its member bourses, the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE).
A commercial court in Antwerp has now made an interim ruling that prohibits the WFDB from having him suspended or excluded from the DDE, pending a further hearing.
Mr Blom, a diamond trader based in South Africa, clashed with the WFDB, of which he was long-standing president after a business disagreement.
He insisted that the dispute resolution committee of the DDE did not have international jurisdiction to rule in a dispute between his two companies and three plaintiffs – Angel Diamonds, KMA Diamonds and Diampex – in December 2019.
He’d been ordered to pay $331,500 but refused to comply and initiated legal proceedings. As a result, in February 2020 the DDE announced it was suspending him.
It then asked WFDB to tell all 29 member bourses of the suspension.
But Mr Blom responded via his attorney, claiming the DDE had violated its own statutes as he had NOT in fact been formally suspended.
On 17 April Mr Blom announced that he was stepping down temporarily as president of the WFDB, a position he’d held since 2012, ahead of a court hearing that took place in Antwerp on 5 May.
At the time Marc De Block, his Belgian lawyer, said: “While the DDE is well aware to have committed very grave errors against my client, and even explicitly acknowledged this, they stubbornly refuse to correct such actions.”
In its 12-page judgement, the court concludes that Mr Blom’s claims are admissible and well-founded.
It “prohibits the WFDB from having Mr Ernest Blom posted throughout the world as a suspended or excluded member of the Dubai Diamond Exchange (Diamond Bourse in Dubai) to all its members until such time as a final judgement has been handed down on the merits of the case against WFDB.”
It goes on to warn the WFDB that it faces a penalty of 25m Euro ($27m) if it fails to comply.