AG moves to CCJ to appeal $446M Dipcon judgement

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Attorney General Basil Williams piloting the bill

THE Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted Attorney General Basil Williams leave to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice decision it made earlier this year to refuse to allow an out-of-time appeal against the $446M judgment that was granted in favour of Dipcon against the government back in 2015 in the High Court.

In January, former acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh, had refused to allow the out-of-time appeal against the Justice Rishi Persaud judgement. Based on the ruling, the government was required to pay interest on the sum, in addition to 6 per cent interest per annum from 2009 when the judgment was filed, to October 2015 and interest of four percent until the sum is fully paid. The Attorney General Chambers had missed the stipulated time to appeal the case, but later filed an out-of-time appeal, which Justice Singh did not entertain.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Court of Appeal also ordered that the Attorney General lodge with the registrar of the Supreme Court the sum of $750,000 as Security for costs within 90 days from the aforementioned date and that Williams satisfy the requirements of Rule 10.6 (2) (b) of the amended CCJ rules by providing to the proper officer within a period not exceeding 90 days, a list of the documents which he proposed to be included in the record of appeal. Williams had filed a notice of application on February 24, requesting leave to appeal to the CCJ pursuant to section 6 (a) and 7 of the CCJ Act, Act No.16 of 2004 and also prayed for an order for a stay of execution of the judgment of High Court Judge, Justice Rishi Persaud, which was made on October 21, 2015, pending the determination of the appeal.

After reading the Affidavit in Support of theMotion and listening to Solicitor-General, Kim Kyte, who appeared for Williams and Timothy Jonas, counsel for Dipcon Engineering, Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Dawn Gregory and Naresh Harnanan the court granted the Attorney General leave to appeal the CCJ.

In his affidavit in support of the application for leave to appeal to the CCJ, Williams said that he was unaware that the previous Attorney General had laid over a court order for payment of $400M with the Minister of Finance in January 2016.

Solicitor- General, Kim Kyte

Williams said too that he was not furnished with details regarding the judgment, the name of the Attorney-at-Law or the parties to the litigation that resulted in the Court Order. Additionally, it was contended that it was during the February 2016 Budget debates that he Williams was informed by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo that there was a large judgment awarded against the State since the APNU+AFC coalition Government took office.

The Attorney General said that after receiving the information, he inquired within his Chambers and discovered that the matter was being handled by a private counsel, Roysdale Forde. Forde was given the case by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall. The affidavit stated that Forde provided Williams with a copy of the proceedings in March 2016 and it was then that it was discovered that no appeal had been filed on behalf of the Attorney General. As a result a motion with affidavit in support of motion was filed on behalf of Williams on May 12, 2016 seeking an extension of time to file a Notice of Appeal out of time against the judgment of Justice Persaud.

Dipcon had taken the former PPP/C government to court in February of 2009 to recover sums it said it was owed along with all other costs for road construction and infrastructural works done in the Mahaica/Rosignol area. Dipcon had contended that by virtue of a written agreement dated March 5, 2003 and amended inter alia by Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated March 5, 2003, and by an Addendum dated July 15, 2003, it was contracted to execute specified road construction and infrastructural works for the Government in the Mahaica-Rosignol area and that the Government should pay to it a lump sum payment of US$20,258,644.22, a reasonable sum to be agreed between the parties to compensate for increases in costs of performing the said works resulting from general inflation conditions during the course of work. It was also agreed that the work would be rendered by Dipcon over an extended period of time and that the lump sum would be made by monthly installments during the course of the work. Based on the agreement, Dipcon carried out its functions and invoiced the Government US$20,258,664.22 for the works done.