Government files a defence in US Court over breached helicopter contract

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Government files a defence in US Court over breached helicopter contract

Government has finally filed a defence in the matter involving a helicopter leased from Vertical Aviation (VA) Limited in a US court.

The defence was filed through New York-based law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP.

According to a report, United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil was notified by attorney Linda Martin in a letter dated January 11, 2021, that T&T will be opposing a decision made by the court to enter a default judgment.

Martin said the Government of TT “has been unfortunately delayed in attending to this action because, among other things, the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago, which is the Ministry in charge of responding to this complaint, has also been one of the primary Ministries responsible for responding to the Covid-19 crisis in Trinidad and Tobago. In particular, such responsibilities have fallen heavily on the shoulders of the Minister of National Security”.

In her letter, Martin also requested from the court a deadline of February 11 for her client to respond to the lawsuit.

Vertical Aviation is seeking close to US$13 million in compensation from the T&T government for breach of contract for a helicopter under the Kamla Persad-Bissessar regime in 2014.

If pre-judgment and post-judgment interest are added, the figure could skyrocket to TT$100 million should the court rule in favour of Vertical Aviation LLC.

Martin told the court “The Government is seriously concerned about the legitimacy of the underlying Lease (including the legitimacy of the waiver of sovereign immunity), which the Government suspects may have been illegally induced,”.

She pointed out that the Minister of National Security had initiated contact with US authorities to discuss commencing an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the execution of the Lease and the purported waiver of sovereign immunity, and expects to have a preliminary discussion with US authorities regarding this matter during the course of this week.