THA given June deadline to file defence in $80m breach of contract lawsuit

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THA given June deadline to file defence in $80m breach of contract lawsuit

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is in some hot water over monies owed to a contractor.

The Assembly has been given until June 30th to file a defence in a breach of contract lawsuit or it will have to pay a contractor some $80 million.

Justice Frank Seepersad set the deadline for the filing of the defence on Wednesday, after attorneys for the THA asked for an extension to file its defence.

It was granted, but the judge warned that if the deadline was not met, then the claim will go ahead as undefended and the claimant, Raghunath Singh and Co Ltd was at liberty to file for judgment in default of defence.

Reports state that Raghunath Singh and Co sued the THA for payments due for the construction of the L’Anse Fourmi, Charlotteville Road. It entered a contract with the THA on August 7, 2002.

The company is seeking to recover $27,053,466.31 in damages, interest in the amount of $53,464,548.62, as well as its legal costs, putting the total figure close to $80 million.

The company said the THA had agreed to pay $34,749,018.75 in addition to value-added tax (VAT) of $5,212,352.81 for the construction works.

“The project was delayed by variation in designs by the defendant, inclement weather, costs fluctuations, legislative changes and additional regulatory approvals demanded by the Environmental Agency (EMA).

“By letter dated October 23, 2006, project manager and consultant engineers, Lee Young and Partners issued the claimant a list of defects to be corrected and which were duly corrected by the claimant.

“The contract was finally completed in 2007and the final contract sum was in the amount of $58,280,366.36 of which $31,266,900.05 has been paid to date,” the claim stated.
The remaining sum has not been paid, the claim says.

On June 4, 2020, the company said it wrote to the THA requesting payment.
However, it was not until the following month that the then-deputy chief secretary, Joel Jack responded to the letter and advised that the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment was undertaking an investigation of the claim and that when the investigation was completed, the contractor would be contacted.

In September 2020, the company wrote to Finance Minister Colm Imbert informing him that it had not been paid its retention sums nor had it been paid for the additional work that were done on the project.

The company says it had not heard from either the minister or the THA since then